I'm pretty experienced at using a computer, websites, and the internet. So much of my book marketing, my social life, and my writing itself (using things like Microsoft Word) is constructed around these channels. But that doesn't mean there aren't times when computers think they own me and not the other way around. A few weeks ago I was going through all the form fields of a book promotion website as I filled in data for the site to host one of my books as a listing, with a link to a freebie. But my computer insisted on downloading a massive, mandatory update while I just sat staring at it. Anyone who has used the internet or a laptop much knows how this feels.
Anyway, when the computer was working again, I lost the data in the website’s form several times when I accidentally pressed something. It cleared back to the original page I’d started from, leaving me having to start over. After a little while of this—I know it probably sounds funny, but it's stressful at the time—I did things in extremely small stages. First the book’s name. Make sure I select my author profile from a list because it won’t select automatically. Make sure the keyboard isn’t adding extra, irrelevant letters to the book’s name or to my name. Copy and paste the link to the free files, then go BACK into it and upload a cover and a link to what to read next if you finish my download . . . you get the idea.
And then I was finally able to use a little feature on this site. It has an engine for adding common tropes (cliché plot elements that often appear in fiction) and story settings to help describe your book. Now this was so massively helpful that I was glad I did all that other stuff before. There was a drop-down list of possible terms and it wasn’t just fun to scroll through and see common story devices: “Oh, I’ve certainly seen that one!” It helped me click on a few of my own. I saved all of the filters that I selected to share with you. This covers a LOT of the topics that appear in my books, even if the trope appears in only one book.
Chosen One; Coming of Age; Different Worlds Romance; Dystopian; Estranged Families; Fairy Tale Retelling; Family Drama; Futuristic Tech; Interstellar Travel; Monarchy; Second Chances
Action Girl; Anti-Hero; Amateur Sleuth; Damsel in Distress; Celebrity/Musicians; Magical/Enchanted People; Outsider MC; Pastor/Minister/Church Elder; Royalty
17th Century; 19th Century; 20th Century; 21st Century; Ancient; Contemporary; High School; Historical; Rural; Space; United States; Europe
And there will be more updates.
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.
Because of COVID-19, my trips to town are rare these days. I go mostly to buy a few groceries, especially produce, and the stores are usually out of EGGS and always out of TOILET PAPER. So far the virus has stayed away from my family, but with an outbreak nearby our movements have become very limited. Coronavirus news from close to home and around the world draws my attention each day and I wonder how life could have changed so fast. A few weeks ago I was in the library on a routine visit and now . . . it's closed.
But while an emergency requires upheaval, another essential part of human life is a sense of normal. Of things that remain in place no matter what. Steady rocks that provide anchors. Whether it’s just watching a favorite movie, finding encouraging prayers and verses online, walking or snuggling pets—anything—doing these things reminds me of a world without COVID-19. It provides perspective. I can remember what things were like before and what they will one day be like again. Even if there are permanent changes, things WILL become a little more normal eventually.
Routines are precious because they link us in a crisis situation to what we were like in an ordinary time before. It keeps us from losing our identity. All over the world, people are trying to keep a sense of normal in the midst of this situation--even doctors and nurses, although their lives are anything but normal right now. Sending these posts to you helps me maintain a bit of my life the way it used to be because I've written and blogged for many years. I trust in each of your lives you are also finding hope in the things that have survived around you. The things you’re still able to do.
And hope is what’s always really out there, if we know how to find it.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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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.