I won't deny that Bellevere House hasn't always been the most fun to write for me as an author. I took it on as a challenge, not for fun, and I was surprised myself at the direction some arcs of the story took. If this book surprised me at first, it continues to do so. The initial reaction to Bellevere left me in little doubt that it had no future and no audience. It had fallen flat on readers and was to be discounted as an ignominious member of the Jane Austen collection. Since I had written it exclusively for this collection, I will say I was more than a little ticked-off by this because it seemed to me all my effort was being wasted.
I planned to keep it only as long as was necessary, since no one would ever want to read it again after the collection's first run. By this time I was already involved in other projects and more than happy enough to do this. In fact, I didn't have time to devote to Bellevere anymore and I had even written a contemporary version to give the story a chance since one of the biggest sources of concern was how I handled the vintage era. It's dialogue, slang, pop culture, and cliches. However, Bellevere-vintage-version (annoyingly, I now felt) just got consistent reads on Amazon. The pageviews on my website were steady tending towards high and often jumped by 1000% if I mentioned Bellevere or even if I did not. If I talked about another of my books, the Bellevere page soared.
I really felt like tearing out my hair.
I'm not sure why people look so much at a "rejected" book. I've often tried to send sunken books afloat again and it doesn't usually work. It's an uphill task at the best of times if you try. While I'd like to think this is just an after-thought as people come from another VJA book and sort of try Bellevere out of a sense of duty, I'm not sure. If I didn't want to read a book I'd skip it whether it was in a series or not.
And there will be more updates.
The more I do with my books, the more things spring forward that need to be done. Getting a story articulated in a way that will make readers understand why they should pick it up is hard, but I'm getting better at it.
As I examined A Year with the Harrisons, I realized it had been a variation on Little Women all along. I started the book years before I began doing my other "retellings," and so I didn't spot that it was a retelling at first. But as time went on, the characters began to look familiar--Meg, Jo, Amy, Laurie, Mr. Laurence, Aunt March, Marmee and Mr. March. I really did leave out Beth. The story started with 3 sisters and though I sometimes considered adding a fourth, it just never really happened. So there are still just 3. Aunt March (Brenda) also gets a lot more screentime than in the book and I enlarged on her immediate family as well as her relationship to the "Marches" (the Harrison family.)
The Birthday Present is now a small prequel to The Prince's Ball and helps to set up its futuristic world. After using Alyce-type characters several times in a historical sort of setting, this story needs a fresh new look and futuristic should shake it up in the right way.
Pricing now ranges from $4.99 to $1.99 for short story singles. I'll begin promoting widely using KDP Select soon, so stay tuned for that!
And there will be more updates.
Life is about making adjustments to new things. When people stop learning, they die. And I'm learning more and more as the years go on. "The best teacher, failure is," Grand Master Yoda says in Star Wars, and after my fair share of failures (of course, I think it was a little more than a fair share) I'm trying to understand readers a little more. I've always had a story--but it's important to communicate that story to people who might not be expecting to listen to it.
The Birthday Present has a new cover and is now at $.99 on Amazon if you want to read the teaser for The Prince's Ball. So fun--going to love working with Amethyst, her gang of friends, a trio of weird brothers from a super-snobby elevated class, and the creepy boy who has a very serious crush on Amethyst.
Life is so funnnnnn.
Stories aren’t static. They meet the needs of readers. I used to think a story (Little Women, for instance) was set in stone. It was what it was, with an unchanging cast of characters. But actually, stories are fluid, even old classics—let alone something new. As people come and go, losing or gaining interest in areas of the book, it changes. It metamorphoses. Suddenly bland characters are striking, “flawed” characters are seen as just evil, minor characters turn out to be the most loved of all, and good characters seem to have questionable morals. All because new people are reading the story now and they’re shedding some light on situations that might not have been noticed at first.
Oftentimes, they are seeing something that was always there—it was just the original audience didn’t quite see if a character was hiding something or if another character had potential. But as time goes on, people become more and more observant and can come up with some surprising things.
Anyway, here is a list of my books as they currently stand in popularity on the website. Since it’s been so much time after writing most of them, I’ve certainly seen some things I didn’t notice at first. Reader interaction on the website has helped me immensely as well.
This list isn’t a breakdown of the value of each book—only of the website visitor population. And there will be more updates.
Singing, dreaming, telling stories . . . I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I love to write more than I love to read, but nothing equals a book that draws me in to find its story. Most recently publication: A Year with the Harrisons, a contemporary comedy about three sisters and a family mystery. Next year's publication: Temmark Osteraith, a futuristic fairy-tale adventure.