During the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve steadily blogged and posted on social media about working on all my previous material. My goal was to develop a coherent label, something people could recognize and feel confident about reading. They would know who I was and what I “offered,” a connection that was lacking in my early publishing years. Everyone drifts at first until they get a handle on something new, including publishing. At least, I really hope this is true—otherwise, I was just a super-clutz at first. 😊
While this was going on, I didn’t put out any additional books. My most recent book, A Year with the Harrisons, was just an older story that got delayed in publication. So after Bellevere House, which was part of a group project in 2017, I went on creative shutdown and into branding mode. Every time I would try to work on new ideas, I had to return to what was already out there and make it better. As a result, these earlier books became continually NEW as their audiences and marketing grew more structured to get them in line with a developing brand of low-key, pleasant fiction.
Working on all 9 books at once involved a bit of rewriting, some editing, a lot of new cover design, and major analysis. Lots and lots and lots of analysis of the story components and how they measured up. I became a one-track feedback machine, from my own perceptions to the reactions of other people. And as those books got whipped into shape, it was pretty full-time, you might say. It wasn’t possible to add a tenth—a really new publication—to the list yet, much as I wanted to.
But I am creating new ideas and I hope to move forward this year into the next phase—a new book!
And there will be more updates.
This Friday (the 14th) Bellevere House will be $0.99 along with other books in The Vintage Jane Austen. Since a lot of you won't see this until Saturday, I'll keep the discount price for my book through the 15th. I don't know how many of the other series books will still be on sale, but you can look around. Here's the Amazon link for Bellevere and once you're there you can find the other books by clicking on the VJA series.
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The two stories in The Birthday Present book go together even though they look dissimilar. One is angsty-looking sci-fi—but it’s not really as depressing as it seems and has a happy ending. And the other is a comedy about a Cinderella-type girl who goes to a prince’s ball, but it doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to in the fairy tale. But what makes them similar is they’re about daring escapes, just enough comedy, and a feeling of removal into a world that’s not yours. The heroes have improbable successes in which they find a way out of situations when you really thought they were tied in a box. And with a high proportion of interesting main characters, most of the central figures really do carry the story. (Unlike in some of my other books, where side characters took off.)
So, to capture all that daring escape etc emotion into five characters:
Alyce is the girl who went to a Cinderella-ball that ended up comically wrong. Once she discovers the Prince is the most selfish letdown in the history of princes, she manages to deal with it in a way that’s more amusing for the readers than it is anything else. It’s hard for the Prince to use her in a political scheme because he has no understanding of her personality.
Lord Harry, of course, ought to provide a bit of a solace as he is the Prince’s younger brother and he does actually like Alyce a great deal. But he’s not good at showing it because he’s a bit self-absorbed and not a good listener. He really ISN’T and this is something Alyce notices about him, but she likes him anyway because he does sincerely help her while she’s at the castle.
Lucy takes life seriously. And she has this hard-to-describe relationship with a man who is like a brother to her. Although he was against humans for a time, as he is not human, he and Lucy also have a lot in common because people can view her as a challenge to their status quo and someone they feel distant from, as they do him.
Emperor Aure is a super-powered humanoid called a GMF. His almost endless youth and strength meant he was impossible to get rid of. He was also a surprisingly fierce person and when he opposed humans, he was a menace. Although very old he still looks young and can communicate with Lucy, who he calls his “little sister,” because of their shared background.
Ralph is a boy from Alyce’s village. Like everyone in this town, he knows only other people from the village. He complains all the time and is never up to dealing with situations. Alyce barely notices him, but her friend Lulu freaks him out by pretending to want to date him. Ralph isn’t quite what he looks like—at least, for his sake I hope not!
And there will be more updates.
First, I want to let you know about a GREAT sale on fantasy ebooks, that you can catch from now through the end of the month! Prices vary—my book, Facets of Fantasy, is in this bundle and is priced at $2.99. For fantasy readers, this is a great chance to find your new favorite author. Even if you don’t buy anything (although of course all the authors would love it if you did) you can find them on retailers, read samples, and learn about their work through this event, The Adventure of Fantasy. So come on over and check it out here
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When I first started reworking my published material, it was a lot like cleaning out an old shed where your family has stashed a variety of things for decades. (Going through such a shed was something I also did a few years ago, so the comparison really rings true.) Each book had many characters, but I had no idea which were the most important ones. Of course when the stories were in my head, each character was equally valuable to me. But which ones would a reader focus on? Which ones were jumping out of the page?
Eventually, I tried to locate the five central characters in each book. They might not always be a protagonist—all of us have read great books in which the main character was actually the most boring. But, usually, these five are important to the story and have a big role in developing it. At times I was still blurry about exactly which characters composed those five—so I did lots of blog posts, lots of Facebook posts, and listened to people by noticing which statements fell flat and which seemed to strike more of a note with readers.
In the process, I went from my own notions of my characters’ identity to seeing a bit more of who readers might think they were. Obviously, the books that were published first have been around the longest and have the most established reader interaction. So, I’m still trying to find some last bits of character focus—a big clue to what the story is “about”—for the last couple of books. My first book was The Birthday Present and its five central characters are:
I’ll talk about them in a post next week. After all, if someone is the big central focus of anything, including a story, it’s best not to cover them at the tail end of a blog post. 😊
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write stories about human emotions--about the journey of life. Every step of it can be meaningfully great or simply terrible and you can only reach the end after experiencing many kinds of things that make you grow. Emotional travels are the travels of life and the road of living is not one planned out in notebooks or organized in Scrivener. It is felt in love, hope, and fear and developed through an understanding of why humans go through these. And, on top of that, my stories are adventure stories. History, fantasy, and daily modern situations are all adventures as long as you don't know for sure what's going to happen when you wake up each day. Because that would be like repeating the same day over and over again and who wants to do that?
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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.