I was shocked when I looked at the calendar and realized it’s been three months already. I was supposed to come back with lots of publication-type-things to unveil! I have collected a lot of writing-related items and ideas, including new folders, new notebooks, and a commitment to writing by hand (used to do it all the time as a teenager and I think I had more fun writing that way.) 😊 I got a book of writing prompts, that I picked up for $2 in a resale shop, and a brand new workspace complete with a lovely organizer set that has each item in a different pattern in shades of blue. I had initially decided not to include four of my books (Harrisons, Bellevere, MerrySummer, and Ryan and Essie) in the new time-travel magnet because I could not think of any continuing storylines for those characters. But I got a load of new ideas as I was organizing the china between our little white cabinet and our hutch. It was a busy afternoon's work as all the china needed to be taken out of cardboard boxes and unwrapped out of newspaper. So I thought about stories while I worked and those four books quietly found a place to belong.
This summer I spent a lot of time working in the house, reorganizing and renovating it. Writing fell by the wayside as a complete restructuring of our living space became a priority. My sister and I woke up one day in late April and realized we had never adjusted our home to accommodate two adults living alone, no children and just one small cat. Our changes had been gradual before, still keeping lots of old habits, as two sisters left the house and our parents moved down the road into our grandfather’s house. But except for some stuff that left the house when these people did, our structure remained the same on a daily basis. We were occupied with routines and never looked at items we had placed years before because they had always been there and we don’t spend most of each day thinking about household physical objects. But this year we saw that we hadn’t caught up to where our lives are really at. We were living in a house that was for a different family at a different time of life.
For instance we moved two musical instruments (our piano and also one of those huge old Conn electric organs that someone gave to us years ago so they could get rid of it) out of our bedrooms where they were taking up large amounts of space. From the sound of "piano and organ" you might think our house is sizable, but it is SMALL and that's the reason they hijacked our bedrooms. They had been put there to keep them safe as there was literally no place for them anywhere else, but honestly it’s been a decade since the youngest of us was under 13 and nobody is going to be kicking, scratching, or crayoning on these instruments now. I was especially glad to get a chest of drawers and my sister to get a desk, now there was actually space to put these things in our rooms! In fact, I made my new motto be “STOP keeping stuff in my room for later, to keep it safe. My room is MY room, all mine!” 😊 We also discovered a lot of gaps as we made the house better organized—for instance, we never kept bathrobes in the bathroom although there are hooks for them, because our house used to be very crowded so we kept our clothes near where we slept. But as we looked around the house we saw it was virtually empty these days. In fact we even have a SPARE bedroom now! (My parent’s room, vacated after they moved out.) We’d been using it as a sort of garage for junk we didn’t have time to go through. So we made time this summer and are turning the room into a den. Having suddenly much more space in the house also means we can create a small dining room area adjacent to the kitchen. We had no room for this before because the only table was used for both schoolwork and food preparation. I look forward to hanging some china plates on the wall.
Anyway, in the midst of all that, I got a nice computer and tidied up massive amounts of stuff from my desk (a lot of the stuff was stashed there to keep it for later and didn’t even belong to me.) I’m getting all set to write some more. I also uploaded about 18 months worth of new reviews to my book reviews blog, as I tend to get behind on that aspect of my website, and I redid the back covers for my books because when I finally got them out of a crowded closet box and onto a bookshelf I noticed too many of the spines were similar and too many of them were black. But I’d never put them in a bookcase before, so I hadn’t noticed. I like the new prompt book I got because writing prompts have always annoyed me. They are everywhere, often given as links or emails. But I don’t have a place to write the story immediately once I see the prompt. This book has a page below each prompt for writing. I’ve never used prompts before, but I’ve been so distracted lately I’m going to need them to get back in the writing game as I start the time-travel magnet.
AND I am going to send out the newsletter only when I have an announcement about a new book, a sale on older books, or other stuff like that. That way you’ll know when you open my email that you’re getting something big and that I’m expecting action on it, instead of you just receiving and languidly browsing a stream of updates about my life. Many authors both blog and send newsletters, but they often don’t combine them as I’ve been doing. Sending only every 2-3 months when there is something to announce is what I’ve seen other authors do more frequently than sending out constant blog posts to a newsletter. They might send these to a blog audience but not double it with a newsletter audience. So that is what I will switch to as well.
Until my next announcement, best wishes to all of you!
I mentioned in my last newsletter that I'm really busy these days. Not to go into particulars, but getting lots of newsletter posts written and published last year while I was also writing and publishing Celestine was a strain because it's hard for me to find time and proper environment to write. This is not an excuse or a subtle way of signing off--the old "I'm just so busy" phrase is a catch-all for gently eliminating any socializing that has become an unnecessary part of your life. Let's admit it, we've all done this when we have too many things on our plate and need to cut back. It's not lying to say we're busy. It's quite truthful. We are busy and that means we need to prioritize some things over others. But "I'm busy" sounds much kinder than "I'm deprioritizing you" which is why this excuse is so ubiquitous!
This blog post isn't such an excuse. I am not deprioritizing my newsletter subscribers because without you I can't share my book concepts, bounce off ideas, spout about reviews and reader/author culture, and talk shop generally. (Well, that's not technically accurate. I share a lot with my sister, Sister 4, who still lives with me at home.) But having a close relative listen to you, while invaluable emotional support, isn't quite like a newsletter or beta reader circle because she's always so loving. This type of support is crucial, and without it authors will wither up, but authors also need a sampling--or warning--of what potential readers, strangers, people stumbling into your genre by mistake, and those looking for faults in presentation and editing might be examining in your work.
But right now time taken writing blog posts is time taken away from writing books. And I've got to get back to writing--the reader magnet I planned, the series of time-travel stories for sale on my website, and then later books. I need to return to my story set in Scotland (which has moved from a historical story to a contemporary comedy with some romance) and then there's that epic fantasy book I've always wanted to get back to. Plus there is The Prince's Ball, a rework of an old manuscript with so much extra material that never made it into the story we call Millhaven Castle. I've floated this idea around for years, but never quite found an opportune slot for publishing it as other projects got in the way. In short, I have a lot of things in the queue like lava in a volcano when the vent is blocked.
So I'm going to take the next 3 months off from all online activity outside of a once-weekly post on FB just to show I'm still alive. Could be longer than 3, but that depends on how much new writing I get done in that 3 months. If I get a lot done, I'll come back with new announcements. If I need more time, then the online vacation will stretch until I'm ready to return. This hiatus includes my blog and newsletter as well. I am going to hibernate and write, write, write. If you want to follow me on FB, feel free to. I no longer use my official author page, though it still exists, because it so boring and clunky to toggle 2 FB accounts and FB won't let most people see my author page posts anyway. Here's a link to my personal profile where you can Follow me or you can add me as a friend if you prefer. I confirm requests from women. Men--just send me a message with your request, saying that you are from my newsletter and that's how you found me. If you're already on my FB, good for you. You are a valued friend. :)
In a few months I will have a lot more to share with you!
Last Sunday I had a nice time out with two of my sisters, visiting the Scarborough Renaissance Festival up in Waxahachie, Texas. You see, it works like this—I am the oldest. Then there is Sister 2 (Hannah.) She got married at this Renaissance Festival in 2018. So when Sister 3 (Andrea) invited Sister 4 (Marianne) and I to go with her this month, I agreed because I wanted to see the pavilion where the wedding was held. The wedding day had been freaky—extremely cold for the time of year and we were freezing our toes off standing outside, some of us in costumes. (Me personally in plain street clothes, but still cold.) Think Pepa's wedding day being ruined by a hurricane type of freak weather. Encanto!
Wedding pictures were cut short because of the cold. Sister 4 and I went back to thaw out in our motel and didn't stay to enjoy the icy, windy Faire. Which meant, I realized when I revisited it, that I'd missed 98% of it. It was nostalgic to see the Pavilion again, now filled with some sort of crowd, so I didn't enter it because I was afraid I would disturb an event. I had really wanted to sit again on the bench I had sat at during the wedding to take a trip down memory lane. But this visit was different—hot and humid. I saw some jousting (huzzah), toured many shops but purchased only a few things, learned court dances, and admired some majestic birds of prey and the great skill of falconers who run a non-profit that cares for injured birds of prey.
Here are some pictures of the bits of merchandise that I got. A set of art cards signed by the artist; a little pottery sculpture of mushrooms (my aunt used to make things like this); some tiny earrings from a shopkeeper who helped us out and then we bought from him; and specialty lip butter from Sister 3, who likes the soap and candle stores in the Faire. I did not notice until Sister 4 pointed it out to me, but I bought the lip butter flavor Redrum—which is actually murdeR spelled backwards. Wow. Not sure what to think about that!
I also got some business cards made last week (finally) as well as some bookmarks, which means I now have something to give people when they ask about my work. I've been meaning to do this for literally years, but never got around to it. My first efforts at business cards were homemade affairs, about 15 years ago, because I couldn't afford anything else, but recently I've often wished I had real business cards or bookmarks to hand out. So I got those done at last—more pro than the last time!--so my name and website are written down and people can remember them after talking to me.
Celestine Princess rounds out the Palladia Trilogy. It was published late after my other books—4 years after my last new book, Bellevere House. When I started out, I just tried to get stories towards whoever would take a chance on reading them. But after 2017, something changed. For the first time there was an actual audience for these books. So it was like “what type person gets which book” and that process went on for about 2 years until I started to run out of books. At that point I rewrote the forgotten Test of Devotion, but it still wasn't enough because there were more readers who wanted a book and didn't have one. So I brought back some old skits from my blog, digging deep to find more material for people--This Merry Summertime—which filled a gap. But there were still some who didn't feel like they had a book. It's that moment of "Oh No, I missed something." Finally I realized I just did not have anything for these people, so I had to write one for them, and the obvious place to put it amongst my other books would be to tie up loose ends in Palladia. So Celestine was written to be a completion—and that's what is so great about it. If more and more people had not gotten interested in my work over the last few years, Celestine would never have been written.
My name is Arielle. I’m the one who doesn't like people who can't fit in.
Even when I'm one of them. In Dorilantz the conflict between the EC and Invaders isn’t a circular rigmarole between similar factions. It’s war. War on my village and my family, in particular. Which turns into a war on me.
You think I’m being angsty, don’t you? It can’t be that bad, you say. I’m exaggerating. But after a masked leader of the Invaders kidnaps you and forces you into a ritual of being shamed and mocked and yelled at over nothing, it’s hard not to draw your own conclusions. He’s out to get me. And he sure likes to tell me what to do.
He's terrifying. Everyone is so afraid of him they can barely speak in his presence. He carries a big heavy metal stick and he’ll hit you on the head with it too. And he used to be EC, it seems. When two girls from Palladia, named Katia and Consuela, came to help me, I learned the danger from The Man isn’t that he wants to hurt me. It’s that I could so easily become just like him. The line between EC and Invader was always murky—and it has never been thinner than now.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
Join the newsletter below! This signup has no reader magnets attached but I am preparing a freebie to be offered as part of the welcome email in the near future.
Check out my list of Top 5 Best Children's Adventure Books About Family and Exploring I've Recommended on Shepherd.com!