With more coronavirus cases reported close to home, grocery shelves stripped bare, and stores and public places closing each day, the pandemic of COVID-19 occupies a large part of my thoughts as it does for everyone these days. No one is free or safe from being affected by this situation, or even from contracting a case of this deadly virus themselves. My thoughts go out to each and every one of you, wherever you may live or however the virus is changing your life right now. Pray for your friends and loved ones, respond to your community’s crisis in a sensitive and wise way, care for those more at risk among you, and never forget to wash your hands!
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"How The Test of Devotion Was Saved,” a little play on words from the classic movie “How the West Was Won,” would be appropriate for talking about my only western story. Very much like the West itself, Devotion’s road hasn’t been easy. It didn’t fit with my other work. Like Victoria: A Tale of Spain it used Spanish-speaking culture as a backdrop, but the stories Devotion most resembled were actually City of the Invaders (with its criminal angle) and Bellevere House (with its use of historical Americana.) These stories already utilized those elements in my work. So I often wondered if Devotion was even necessary.
It was a challenging book for me to write. I couldn’t remember Lanmont’s first name. I couldn’t remember the alias he used for the first few chapters until his identity was revealed. In the middle part of the story, where Arabella was rescued, I found my eyes sliding off the page. I couldn’t concentrate. (Not a great mindset to be in when looking to publish a book!) Even this year, when the book pushed forward a notch, I still had more typos than average for my first drafts. Giving it to an editor got rid of that problem. But it sounds like Devotion was a largely merited flop. It was too late to recover it and maligning of the early launch by readers was pretty fair.
But then . . . some stories take time. They grow in the telling. Slowly, Devotion slipped into place. It didn’t jar as much, I found the material much easier to work with. The character relationships started to make sense, the errors disappeared, and I could see Lanmont more clearly. In fact, he’s one of the best characters. (Even if he is kind of a jerk.) And so The Test of Devotion is not what it used to be. It’s become a really good story. Even with its many flaws, bumpy launch, and gritty, abrasive tone, there's something to love in this book. It's a story of unlikely friends overcoming differences to help someone else out and that's one thing the world always needs more of. Because it was published fairly recently, I’ll be talking about its characters in posts a little bit down the road.
And there will be more updates.
Last week I talked about the central five characters that bring a focus to Facets of Fantasy and about how this is one of my oldest--and most interacted-with--books. And this week Facets is part of a giveaway bundle of fantasy books. The giveaway lasts until the end of March and contains a wide diversity of books--epic, high fantasy, coming of age adventure, young adult, fairy tale, mythology-based stories, etc. There are several books I really liked the looks of! You can download as many of these books as you want by subscribing to author's newsletters here. You can also get Facets of Fantasy along with the other books if you want to read it--just enter your email. If that doesn't work, use this link instead to get it directly.
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All of my early books were sci-fi or fantasy. Beginning with the first part of Victoria published as an ebook in 2014, I started to do historical writing which continued for several years. Of my first 5 books, 4 are sci-fi, fantasy, or dystopian. Of my last 4 books, only one is (Ryan and Essie.)
Some people don’t like to read speculative fiction, particularly. They prefer realistic, especially historical, works. So I wanted to try and capture new characters who might be more likely to appear in a realistic setting. It’s not like you’re going to hate my speculative or hate my historical because they are for entirely different audiences. If I wanted to reach two audiences, I’d have two pen names. Some readers prefer the feel of historical and others prefer sci-fi or fantasy. It’s two ways to tell the same type of story. In fact, I’m open to doing both in the future.
In Consuela, these two sides of my work are almost absurdly manifested. Consuela was originally set in a quasi-historical world (think Disney’s recent Cinderella movie) that it shared with early drafts of Victoria. Later it was unpublished and when it returned, it became part of the City of the Invaders dystopian world. (City of the Invaders is the highlight book for next month, so I will be talking more about it soon.) Consuela remained a comedy story even though that’s not the norm for dystopian. I just felt that it was more emotionally connected to Invaders now than to Victoria, which was steadily moving in its own direction as a historical work set in Spain. But it goes to prove that the bridge between my two main genres is easily crossed. In fact, I'd describe my books as interconnected. That’s why I’m looking forward to publishing more. Every new story adds perspective on the earlier books as well as introducing new characters for readers to play around with. 😊
And there will be more updates.
Facets of Fantasy was the first book many of my readers discovered. It had two editions, different cover tweaks, ebooks and paperbacks published years apart, and at one time it contained both “Millhaven Castle” (which had already appeared in The Birthday Present book) and a shorter version of City of the Invaders. So Facets has been continually molded and changed into the book we see today. It is pared down, in a sense, to a core of 3 stories that never had a life outside of this anthology while others spun out or moved on. Finding the central characters can be tricky when people's original concept of what this book was about included stories that have since moved elsewhere. But these three stories, unlike the others that came and went, really are “fantasy” stories. Even Jurant is space fantasy rather than sci-fi. And they all have an adventure that calls the characters into action whether they want to sit back or not. Doing nothing is never an option when the world—or your family—must be saved.
The central five characters reflect the book’s essence as its identity solidifies. (And about time too. This book has been seriously bopping around for far too long.) 😊
Ferdinand in Halogen Crossing wears many hats as his roles include villain, boyfriend, antagonist, and eventually friend. “Nice guy” isn’t really one of his qualities though—at least, not on the surface. He got caught up in the government’s secrets and ended up losing a lot of his identity as he became a pawn. But by the end, we see he isn’t entirely bad.
Violet in The Amulet of Renari really has an affinity for bad situations, but she’s indestructible. Risky adventures, sinister backstories, incoming invasions—pretty much anything you’d want to avoid is her specialty. She’d just as soon stay in her remote home full of secrets as have adventures, but when catastrophes engulf other people she somehow sails through.
King Flavian is Ferdinand’s boss. He’s one of those side characters you need to watch out for--dishonest, crafty, and pretty good at both. His whole family has gained immense power through controlling a magical artifact that can destroy them, which is kind of the ultimate gamble. Since King F. hosts all the guests in the story, he’s in charge in his own home. But it’s hard to win if the people who actually own the artifact show up.
Lord Andre is a middle-aged man who has become very isolated and very reclusive. He runs the Jurant military high school, but recently he’s become rather demented and believes he can tap spiritual power to make physical bodies stronger. Catching the eye of the government, since his behavior DOES sound like a bad idea, he reunites with his grandson and ends up getting caught.
Charis is an ordinary Jurant student, with an extraordinary attitude, and she steals the show from Sekana, Lord Andre’s lab rat. Although a bit of a tagalong in the galaxy’s elite power structure, Charis exhibits a sassy attitude, kick-butt fighting skills, and an inability to back down. Fights with guys seem to be her specialty, but she dresses as well as her uniform will allow and some might call her beautiful.
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.