This week was my youngest sister’s birthday. Like Hobbits, we are very fond of birthdays in my family and we celebrate everyone’s no matter what their age. My father had a little birthday party in the summer as he turned 69 and for my youngest sister’s birthday in October, my next-youngest sister (I have 3 sisters) took her on a day of shopping around Waco. They visited consignment stores, flea markets, and boutiques, picking up an assortment of small gifts as well as random purchases. It was a very fun day for both of them and it was a lot more about the bonding and friendship than about the gifts. Additionally, they brought back some munchables like good old-fashioned licorice all-sorts and homemade wild plum jam. They remembered reading about how children in the vintage era would have licorice all-sorts. I’m not sure if the candies of that time tasted like the ones we had—which varied from great licorice flavored ones to strange ones that tasted like a collision of laundry detergent and anise. 😊 But we had fun trying them!
My gift to her was a multi-screen (including digital edition) of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent and some earrings. She recently got her ears pierced so earrings were actually a necessary purchase as she has to wear them 24/7 for 6 months and I chose ones that were understated and elegant to match the DVD. We’ve recently almost doubled our digital movie collection by using an inexpensive program called Disc to Digital. We were slow to use digital at first and lethargically redeemed codes that tagged along with DVDs, rarely watching the digital. But once everyone in the family upgraded some of their DVDs, a great variety of movies started to pop up in our phone app and the app was suddenly more interesting. I didn’t know we had even owned some of these movies before! However, Sleeping Beauty is not available via the program we’ve been using and it’s one of my sister’s all-time favorite movies. So of course—I was really glad we do birthdays in our family.
Review copies for the next 2 weeks are Consuela and Facets of Fantasy. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (Consuela is one of the most light-hearted and family-friendly of my books. Facets, on the other hand, has only mild content but heavy undertones that deal with death, grief, and anger. So, if you are triggered by any of those things, be aware before taking the book.)
Consuela Review Copy
Facets of Fantasy Review Copy
And there will be more updates
I have always disliked having my picture taken. Everyone most likely has some kind of quirk or characteristic that’s specific to them. (I also dislike talking on the phone, which I think is a pretty rare characteristic.) We are all different and that’s something to be unapologetic about. After all, who wants to know a robot woman with no individuality, no personal traits--a manufactured person without their little surprises? If there is such a robot out there, I don’t know her and I don’t want to know her.
However, I've found it's really valuable to learn to do things that are not 100% my favorite. And even people who normally enjoy dressing up and smiling vacantly into a camera (as I do not) don’t like photographs of them in all circumstances. For instance, the picture on their driver’s license. I’ve never met someone who told me they like the way they look on their driver’s license. I have often met people who said they distinctly hated that picture and that it barely even looks like them. I sometimes wonder if the people who actually take the driver’s license pictures enjoy doing it, but I have never asked about it.
So I woke up about a week ago and realized my author photo is almost 5 years old. I remember the day it was taken—a nice warm afternoon in late February, in 2017. I was sitting on our porch. At that time our little dog was still alive and she featured in a lot of the pictures because she loved accompanying us to do anything. This picture had served me pretty well, but maybe it was time for a new one. So I put on something green, to try a new look because I was wearing pink in the previous snapshot. I wore tall heels just for fun because I rarely wear them and I have never practiced keeping my balance in that type of shoe. It wasn’t easy! 😊 And I ended up wrecking the heels as I walked all over our yard taking pics, but I enjoyed myself a lot more than I thought I would. We went out into the orchard to a big old mulberry tree we have. It's huge and its branches trail on the ground and have to be tied up with ropes, but the ropes blend into the foliage so you hardly notice them. Autumn leaves littered the ground while we took pictures. I haven’t been out to this tree in the autumn before—I go out to help in the summer when there are mulberries.
Here’s a pic of me in the branches along with my updated author pic. In fact, I am sitting on the same porch in almost the way I did for my last pic. I just often choose pics taken on the porch because they have good lighting.
Review copies for the next 2 weeks are Celestine Princess and City of the Invaders. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (Celestine Princess content is Moderate for violence, including an area where a prisoner is partially undressed while she talks with a man--the scene is not sexual--and later she is forcibly costumed by other women while she’s subjected to a ritual. However, this does not really count as “sexual violence” and is not mentioned in the content rating on the download page.)
Celestine Princess Review Copy
City of the Invaders Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
In the movie Twitches, which usually runs on Disney channel every Halloween, the sisters Alex and Camryn are told by their guardians, Ileana and Karsh, that the girls are from another dimension called Coventry and were sent to our world to hide until they were grown-up. They are completely skeptical and Alex calls the new dimension imaginary. Ileana patiently tries to explain to her “Oh, the universe has infinite dimensions. Well, 9 . . . maybe 9 and a half. But none is more real than another.”
The same is true of entertainment. There are, as I said in my last post, 22 different audience types—well, maybe 22 and a half! —and not one of them is more REAL than the others. Nor are any of them less worth writing about. Unlike the fantasy worlds Ileana and Karsh describe, there’s really no excuse to deny their reality even for a minute. They are not bizarre planes accessed through magic. They are simply groups of people who also inhabit the Earth with us. I’ve never felt that any of them are more important or deserve VIP attention. An attitude of “Well, the first thing I have to do is write such and such book to get my career off to a good start because it’s about the important people. Then the rest can follow.” This way of writing might appeal to someone who is simply self-aggrandizing—but not to someone who actually wants to tell a story. I have not prioritized one audience over another. I just write about whichever one comes next.
I wanted to write stories like the ones I grew up reading, books that had endured the test of time. But modern books are not put together like older fiction. It was common for older novels to contain multiple audiences within one work. They would shift back and forth in intricate subplots that entertained an entirely different audience from the main plot and often introduce a third and fourth angle (occupying almost the length of an entire novella) before cycling back. Modern fiction is linear and tailored, regardless of its word or page count. The majority of books describe only one audience, primarily a projection of the reader, and lack even a basic conflict within the story because conflict occurs when another person is introduced. At least 2 audiences are needed to create some type of tension. Books based on self-centeredness fall thin very quickly.
Other authors rise above this syndrome of excessive tailoring, but while their work is well-crafted, they usually address the same couple of audiences over and over. Readers have grown to expect that authors will write for only one audience or perhaps show two in symbiosis (a better approach) for their whole careers. But there is no rule that authors must always do this. As I analyzed my work more, I found that I had included many different audiences instead of sticking to an audience base of one or two. This stemmed from my original goal—to write stories that had a wide range of audiences. Two is the minimum to create necessary depth, but it’s also the maximum allowed in one book in modern fiction. So I adjusted by writing about a couple of audiences in each book and adding different audiences in later books until I’d covered almost all of them.
This means my readers have the option to head for the book in their audience bracket, tailored in a way they are accustomed to reading—while I still have the ability to show as many audiences as I want. Yes, I will exclude readers whose motive is an exhibition of neurotic self-absorption, because those books don’t constitute a real story! With a few books still to publish, I’m well on my way to achieving the goal I set for myself all those years ago—and to achieve it within the expectations of what a modern writer should do.
And there will be more updates.
Author of Science Fiction, General Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Anthology Fiction
Always looking to better my craft.
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