As we enter the new year, everyone has resolutions for 2021. Losing weight, managing money better, renovating your home, volunteering with youth—all of us have priorities. For myself on the writing front, I plan to finish The Palladia Trilogy this year. That’s a broader goal, thinking more globally. During this month I have just two goals. One is to get back to normal after last month, which was really busy because the holidays intersected with my uncle’s passing away—he died of carbon monoxide poisoning when his furnace malfunctioned and we were told about it on the 26th—and with disastrous plumbing that struck on a chilly New Year’s Eve and left us managing busted pipes and broken faucets for days over the weekend. My sister came on Jan. 2nd for a delayed Christmas party, and while this was nice because I hadn’t seen her in a while, it left me feeling a little bit with a full plate the week after Christmas.
The other is to redo my book descriptions so they sound less like slices of stale bread. I wanted to equalize all of my books last year because some got disproportionately more attention and others had gone unpublished—so I cut down to the basics and did a bare-bones description for each book. All pretty similar and detailing just what’s in the book’s plot components, nothing more. But now I think they are pretty much stabilized, so I’m looking for more of an emotional connection coming out of the blurbs.
A Year with the Harrisons got a makeover last month for market-oriented purposes. It felt complete as a story, but it had always wavered between YA and Women’s fiction--kind of an all-ages sort of thing. The original serial version had Letty as a college girl, but I kicked it down to high-schooler when I published the print in 2018 because the book’s homeschool focus was still big at that time and it made more sense to show a girl who was actually still learning at home. Education turned out not to be an important factor in this book at all, though, and the homeschool component has dwindled to just a couple of mentions here and there. Rather, it’s about an extended family of people who are proudly different from others and can easily get a little full of themselves about it—but isn’t everyone’s family like that? So I moved the book to New Adult, which a writing editorial I subscribe to defined as about women ages 18-30 going through still-youthful life experiences. This held an umbrella over plots with both the protagonists (Letty who is now 18 and Betty who is 28.)
Ryan and Essie also got some definition as I removed the brief mention (unlike in Harrisons it was always very brief) of the Essie character as homeschooled. The idea hadn’t been to explore education, but to polarize the kids even further so they were opposed in every way and couldn't relate to each other at first. But their antagonism isn’t what drives the story. Much more it’s what brings them together as they make moral choices for the first time. Digging into the description to draw out more emotion—since readers who aren’t on my newsletter don’t have the luxury of getting details sent their way twice a month—has been fun since the world of Caricanus has an angle as a creepy kind of place. It’s in ruins, but not abandoned and the followers of Trisagion are quite as questionable as they are austere and tough. So these two kids explore this place with a very deep history and decide what to do about the world, not about each other since they aren’t really a problem.
And there will be more updates.
For the last 3 years, I’ve blogged pretty much every week. At times I posted more than once a week and I actually can’t remember if I ever skipped posting during some of those busy months in 2018 and 2019! But for a long time, it's been steady at one post per week, shared in the newsletter on weekends. I have been putting a lot of attention into my blog posts, but blog activity and promotional activity to market older books are both taking a lot of my time. I really want to start writing new books and since I'm also busy with other things, I have to prioritize where my writing time goes. So I will be cutting the blog posting down to about twice a month, which means you’ll be getting a newsletter update every other week instead of weekly.
I kept a few sporadic blogs in the past when my posting was much less consistent. But this blog has been a steady place for me to discuss my work and my artistic vision over the last few years and I’m very blessed and grateful for that. The continuity of this blog has been a product of the stable newsletter following I’ve had during that time and writers are beings who want their words to be read by a public audience. Having my ideas discussed through this blog has been beyond meaningful and kept me feeling so encouraged during a time when I wasn’t producing any new material and was instead contemplating my journey forward and how to become an author who truly helps readers.
However, it’s also true that many writers only send newsletters occasionally and keep their blog (or podcast) as a separate stream people can also subscribe to. I’ll do whatever feels right at the time when I am able to produce weekly blog content again. I will still post weekly images on FB and Instagram (there are follow buttons at the top of the newsletter or in the sidebar if you've clicked through to the blog) and in the next few months I plan to do a little more video content. I will continue to connect with you every other week via email during this exciting upcoming new year. I have three WIP now—two are more fleshed-out ideas and one is just lurking around the corner—and I am so eager for you to see all of them. To do that, I must write more on my manuscripts and less on my blog. And in any case, twice a month is still pretty often to get an email from me. 😊
And there will be more updates.
I mentioned that I have been collecting Christmas songs. And when I was listening to them, I noticed the people that each song represents. The songs are the echoes of real people in life, people who find their place in the Christmas narrative year after year. Those people read books too. So I started to feel some songs were closer to particular stories of mine than others were. I could almost imagine the characters singing these songs, although Christmas has actually never been mentioned in any of my books to date. (I’d like to do a Christmas-themed book. On the bucket list. On the bucket list.)
It's true that some of the carols I gave each book weren't written in the historical era the book is set in (or they were from another culture so the characters probably wouldn't have used the song) and that my fantasy characters don't celebrate Christmas because their worlds are imaginary and I never included a Christmas-type idea in them. But if these characters lived here and now in December they might sing these songs. The people who have such and such carol as their favorite—they are the people who I wrote about in those exact books.
Just for fun, I put together a playlist for you of some of these carols. Because these songs are likely so familiar to you, they might literally ring a bell. The arrangements are choral, vocal soloist, piano soloist, even Celtic. The last two are representative of several songs I associate with my two WIP. I trust by next Christmas that one of them will be published. And after that there are always Christmases to come.
(list below for which songs go with each book. This list won't appear in the actual playlist, so reference it here.)
This Merry Summertime
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
A King is Born
City of the Invaders
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I Saw Three Ships
Facets of Fantasy
I Wonder as I Wander
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Emmanuel (God is With Us)
Ryan and Essie
Ding Dong Merrily on High
What Child is This
The Test of Devotion
The First Noel
Joy to the World
A Year with the Harrisons
Angels We Have Heard on High
The Trumpet Shall Sound (from the end of Messiah)
Victoria: A Tale of Spain
Oh Holy Night
Sing We Now of Christmas
The Birthday Present
Away in a Manger
Do You Hear What I Hear?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write stories about human emotions--about the journey of life. Every step of it can be meaningfully great or simply terrible and you can only reach the end after experiencing many kinds of things that make you grow. Emotional travels are the travels of life and the road of living is not one planned out in notebooks or organized in Scrivener. It is felt in love, hope, and fear and developed through an understanding of why humans go through these. And, on top of that, my stories are adventure stories. History, fantasy, and daily modern situations are all adventures as long as you don't know for sure what's going to happen when you wake up each day. Because that would be like repeating the same day over and over again and who wants to do that?
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