My books were, practically speaking, in a beta phase at the time they were first made public. I rarely used beta readers beforehand and would present my ideas in “published” form and then get some feedback about them. The books received the usual gamut of initial responses that happen to a new story. But since I was writing stories that were formative during their first run, these early reactions, even if they lingered in reviews or commentary, became outdated after the books entered a second phase. Once it began this second phase, each book went through a unique development based on its needs. But it was always geared towards finding the story— the finished product—out of that original beta publication.
Syncing was required for The Birthday Present and Facets of Fantasy. When I learned these volumes of shorter stories were to be viewed as contiguous, in a sense—as linking together in some way instead of serving as unrelated shorts—the task was to untangle them from each other and find the right combinations that reflected this core linkage.
Longevity was important to A Year with the Harrisons, since it dealt with what was potentially a flash-in-the-pan topic. It was presented very informally at first, a serialized weekly installment run on my FB fan page. About 8 years later I felt there had been enough real interest for me to proceed with a publication.
Context was necessary for the Palladia books (City of the Invaders & Consuela.) Both of them were shown early on as short little sketches and while their storylines were on the right track, there just wasn’t enough detail. Information about a larger world was needed, and eventually a more dramatic underlying structure around these stories began to appear.
Definition was important for Victoria: A Tale of Spain and The Test of Devotion. When these two first went public, they were vague on some of the character development and didn’t always clarify what needed to be understood about the personal relationships in the stories. For this reason, they were some of the most confusing for readers. As they developed, the books that emerged differed from the initial drafts in ways that made the stories clearer.
Accessibility was central to Bellevere House and Ryan and Essie. Both stories were shown sufficiently and neither of them needed more time to determine reader interest or any structural organization. But in both books, the story was very subtle and deeply embedded. So they faced a communication problem, with readers not being able to access the story immediately. Connecting readers to these books has been a priority.
And there will be more updates.
As I talk this week about expanding the Palladia Series into a trilogy, City of the Invaders is available for FREE in a group giveaway. Until the end of the month, you can catch it along with 50 other sci-fi, fantasy, YA, and dystopian books in the May Fantasy Giveaway promotion. This really is a steal for loading up on some great free books. Just subscribe to author's newsletters. City of the Invaders is #1 in the Palladia Series and I've highlighted the series throughout this month, so this is a perfect time to get started on it! Just follow this link.
If the link doesn't work (it works for already-subscribed addresses about half the time) use this instead for a direct download. But only for my book. Be sure to check out all the others at the link above.
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It took a while for Consuela to really make the switch to the Palladia world. After all, transplanting a story from one genre to another can be a bit of a shock and the readers picking up these characters need to get used to seeing them in a high-tech world instead of the Italian coastal scenes of the beta version. But the underlying types of people shown do belong to Invaders’ world of criminals and city-states, because riff-raff and politics, as I mentioned earlier this month, are vital to Consuela. And after the story settled in for a bit, I started to think about doing another Palladia book. But I didn’t until I was sure the transition was working. What would the third book be about? It would have to be something that built on both Invaders and Consuela. And in any case, assuming these two books did go together, maybe the story ended there.
Now, of course, that the world is settled on action-adventure and crime, with a dash of politics, a bunch of new characters have popped out of lurk spots like the riff-raff they are. You’d think that after two books detailing shady dealings, educated subcultures mingling with crime lords who run everything, and a bit of backstabbing and subterfuge, we had seen all the criminal types anyone would ever need to. But no, there are plenty more. One of the hallmark traits of Palladia is that there really are a LOT of people who participate in this lifestyle. Perhaps more of them than are strictly needed, which creates many of the problems in this future society. But they certainly do exist.
The third book, title still pending, is currently being planned to include some of the outer-space colonies mentioned in the earlier books, but never visited—especially Alphea (Mars.) The Alpheans have a mysterious and very high-tech colony. But I want to include some of the Palladian types like the EC as well, in the form of a young lady who is a bit of a clueless fan of Alphean culture and finds herself befriending a well-off Alphean family who aren’t quite what they seem. (Well, they are what they seem to be, namely rich and Alphean, with two young people among them she becomes good friends with. But there’s more to them than that.) And of course, there’s a criminal heist going on with a mismatched team of squabbling hustlers, including a young orphan who definitely has a mind of her own and seems to have forgotten she’s only thirteen. Since it’s Palladia, there will be plenty of opportunities to shoot people or steal their money. Or maybe both. 😉
And there will be more updates.
Last month I mentioned that I will be publishing a little collection of shorts this year. To add to that, the anthology will be called This Merry Summertime and will contain 7 short stories and satirical comedy scripts, and one novella. The satirical comedy scripts are very short screenplays that tell a typical, cliché story in a funny way. But they are creative, with invented characters, and explore the genre as well.
The title was chosen because the storylines for every piece take place during the summer. A couple have scenes in the spring or early autumn, but the bulk of the story has a warm summer feeling to it and several stories are set exclusively in the warm months of the year.
The 7 pieces are titled:
Actually, the idea of publishing these blindsided me without warning. A very few of you might have been around long enough to remember some of these little skits, which were shown to a few blog readers about 6 years ago. But the concept behind these shorts wasn’t serious at the time and they returned to my USB flash disk where they remained buried up until last month. I thought of them as a rather wistful memory of a very different time in my publishing career, one that was rich in personal relationships but much less professional than it has since become. Everwood briefly appeared in a now-out-of-stock single of "The Amulet of Renari", because at the time I wasn’t sure if Renari would fit permanently with the other Facets stories. But it ended up doing so and Everwood went back into the USB disk.
If I ever stumbled on any of these while sorting my files, publishing them never occurred to me. But then, like a motorcycle coming sideways out of a forest, these stories zoomed back into view. And the next thing I knew, I was compiling them together and preparing to publish them. Movies at the Beach requires a bit of trimming and it will still be the longest in the book when it’s done. But the changes I’m doing are slight and basically these little skits are resurrecting themselves. In terms of the imagery of a motorcycle trying to run you down, they mean business too. At least, that doesn’t sound like a vehicle that wants to be argued with.
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.