As people in my state (Texas) are talking about opening businesses back up, with limitations, life is returning to a tentative pretense of normal. Of course, if you’re required to visit parks only in limited groups wearing masks the definition of "normal" is open to interpretation! But along with all the hard and sad things during the storm of the virus during April in the US, there were little things that were less grave and sometimes even a bit funny.
Like the toilet paper craze that started immediately and is still a problem. Last week was the first in which I saw even a little of it on the shelves at my local grocery and there were still no disinfecting products like hand sanitizer. In fact, people got to the hand sanitizer long before we did and we rely on a tiny bottle we dug out of an old purse. (We rarely used hand sanitizer before, which was why we didn’t buy any quickly enough.) We tried to restart our chest freezer, which we hadn’t used in 4 years, because we had some extra ears of corn as a gift. We usually freeze extra corn until we can use it, but that takes space. So the freezer . . . oh wait, scratch that idea. Nada. That freezer was a no-show. And freezers were also sold out everywhere unless you wanted one the size of an entire room or a tiny one that only stores medicine! 😊
Some cute little pics of life during that month—my sister sews a lot, so she made us little masks. This is a pic of me in my mask and I look a bit like a bandit. Or perhaps a witchy sorcerer in a fantasy novel, who wears concealing face coverings. Since we live in a remote area, I don’t wear the mask much, but I take it with me when I go shopping. The lilies in the window are a memory of an Easter spent at home. Lilies are not exactly the best news for cats--understatement--and we have lots of cats. So we put the lilies in the bathroom window because the cats never go in there. In a plastic pitcher, of course, since we wouldn't want a nice vase to get smashed if it fell out of the window. But I think the lilies looked beautiful there and did a good job of representing the message of the Easter story--humility and sacrifice. And so did everyone who practiced unselfishness during this spring, from the great sacrifices of doctors and nurses as they helped so many families who have suffered loss, to the small sacrifices of everyday people all over the world.
And there will be more updates.
Ryan and Essie, chronologically, was published between Victoria: A Tale of Spain and The Test of Devotion. And ordinarily I group the books in pairs based on when they were published. The two story collections; the first two Palladia Series books; and the two novels about American 20th-century life are all natural fits for each other and it also happens they were published in adjacent years.
But Ryan and Essie doesn’t match the feel of either Victoria or Devotion. In fact, it’s incompatible as a mystical fantasy story set in deep space. These two books, meanwhile, have much in common with each other and were published very close together. So I’ve paired them as a couple and moved Ryan and Essie farther down in the list towards more recent books in spite of its technical time of publication. This is because it’s now the only one that doesn’t have a partner. (You have 9 books and you’re working in pairs of two, this is bound to happen! 😊) A new book will probably have a lot of compatibility with Ryan and Essie, especially if it’s a fantasy story.
I’ve found it logical to work with the books in pairs because books written very close together usually have the same emotions from readers. It's certainly possible for characters to be part of little cross-connections throughout my books, but audiences tend to feel similarly about books written close in pairs. So usually I write two books that explore a set of related ideas and then move on to another pair of books. But over time I’ve noticed that Ryan and Essie has stood outside of any conversations about my other books. This makes sense if another book is needed to make a pairing--I've only explored half of the ideas around this story, so it's a bit out of context. So why was Ryan and Essie published when it was if it had nothing to do with stories published at that time?
Well, this is really one of my oldest books. I started working with the ideas when I was still a juvenile. And perhaps whatever book eventually pairs with it will also have been a hidden part of my writing world for a very long time.
And there will be more updates.
Right now I'm part of an all-genre sales bundle for April. All books are $2.99 or less. The sale even includes non-fiction and it's a grab bag of interesting books that might not appear in other, more specialized genre promotions. There are many gems in here, including more cross-genre or unusual books. It’s a very entertaining bundle! My book is Consuela and it is priced at $1.99. There's no pressure to buy (although all the authors would love it if you did) and it’s a great way to find samples of the books on retailers, and scout out authors you'd like to bookmark or follow. Follow this link!
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My next book will be an anthology of shorts—a couple of funny fairy-tale stories, some screenplays satirizing popular entertainment, and an adventure novella about homeschooled kids, called “Movies at the Beach,” which never made it into any other publication. All but one of these have not been published before, though a few were linked as files in blog posts years ago and circulated among friends. (My blog was a very informal affair back then!) The little pieces are roughly middle-grade or younger YA, and just good clean fun. I would think if I was very fortunate they might remind you of the mixture of zany humor and strong emotion in L.M Montgomery’s Chronicles of Avonlea.
After this book, I have three ideas for the future. I'm just not yet settled on the publicaton order. The first is another historical project, this time set in Scotland. When I found all the stuff I’m putting in the upcoming anthology. I also realized I had many uncompleted, rather crunchy story bits drifting around in manuscript form. These little drafts never went anywhere because they lacked a final element. Something about them just wasn’t coming together. But the Scottish setting (which is a really neat one to work with) gives them the missing piece, which is a strong location in which to place the new story that is exploding on a sudden tangent out of those old scattered bits.
I’ve been up in the air about whether to do a third Palladia book. (To turn City of the Invaders and Consuela into a trilogy.) These two stories were written very close together—6 to 7 years ago. A third book would be written years after the others and my life and audience have changed so much this book might not have consistency. However, the main pro for the idea is that trilogies have a finality that two stories just don’t provide AND that authors do sometimes work on a book in their series much later. These books usually have a different “feeling” to them, but that’s not necessarily bad. So we’ll see.
The third idea is for a Christian fantasy book, for adults. I’ve tried the “Christian” genre label with some of my books before, but they are now happily settling into other genres. One of the reasons several of them lost this label is that they were for young audiences. Many readers of the Christian genre want to read about flawed characters and spiritual themes in books for adults. Writing this genre or reading it does not make you more or less Christian. Many Christians prefer mainstream fiction and those who write Christian fiction want it to be meaningful to non-Christians too. It’s about a particular type of story. And I’ve always wanted to broaden and find the characters in that story.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
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When I set about defining my books, I wanted them to be positive places where a gentleness emanated from the pages. A hopeful safety lies in gentleness and there's also an honesty to it. A whirlwind of pushy book blurbs and hot characters (or whatever type character the author wants you to admire) can conceal a reality underneath. A quiet--possibly even lurking--reality that's more visible if you dial down the volume. That lurking reality isn't necessarily bad, but like anything quiet, it gets drowned out by conflict and angst. Peaceful fiction can help explore the truth that noisy books ignore.
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.