Every author wants to entertain. That’s why we write. What drives us is the dream of developing characters that people react to. We want our stories to be exciting, to be interactive places where people become passionate about what we’ve created.
In the early years of my publishing I became desperate to get attention. I noticed people were not highly motivated to respond to my work and I started to include material that was extraneous to the stories. It had nothing to do with the tales I was telling. But this material, I thought correctly, would interest the people I was trying to impress with my books. And it DID. They were interested by that material.
But it was at the cost of the stories and of my self-esteem. Not only did these inclusions detract from the books, they sometimes backfired and caused negative reactions from readers. I was quite hurt because, in all honesty, I’d only included these elements to interest the readers. And they WERE interested—without that negative reaction, they had little response to the book at all. “How ungrateful!” I thought. Even when reactions were less negative, I didn’t see any engagement unless I put in irrelevant material.
Trying to change something to get people’s attention is just a way of trying to fit in. If people will only notice you when you change yourself, those aren’t people you should care about. Every author deserves the kind of fans they should really care about—the fans who care about them. In the course of the last 18 months I’ve revised every one of my stories to remove this extraneous material.
These changes aren’t to alter or hide what was in the books, but instead to reveal the true story. In another post I’ll detail exactly what changes were made. In the meantime—just be yourself. You’re a lot better at it than you think.
And here will be more updates.
I popped back into Pinterest early this week and started making boards again. "Pinterest--haven't been on there in a while. Does it still exist?" I thought lethargically. But I poked back in, reactivated my account, and started pinning lots of funny pics and inspirational quotes. Then I searched vintage fashion for a Bellevere House board and found lots of great ideas.
I knew vintage was a popular search, but my sister (who OWNED Pinterest at that time) specialized in girls with bombshell hair and bright lipstick. So I thought that was all there was to the vintage thing. This week I discovered lots of great dresses from the circa 1930s era--some on models, some on dressmaker's dummies. I saved lots and lots of them in many great colors. I visualize Bellevere as having lots of variety in the colors the women wear for each scene (men are harder to get creative about, but maybe something specific in the argyle pattern of a vest, etc.)
Now I actually have dresses to look at, concepts were just popping out at me. Faye wears a lot of gray, black, and blouse-with-skirt combinations. In one scene she wears a pale blue with pink flowers on it, for no reason. Helene often wears an outfit in just one scene, sometimes very striking colors--like dark maroon with a white collar when she plays piano, or a gold shirt and dark brown skirt at the beach. BeBe wears a lot of pale pink, little sweaters, and coral. I found a long dark blue flamboyant evening dress for Myrtle when she's discovered to have been cheating with Horace, and a medium green with embroidery for Aunt Betty when she talks about whether green is more a color for men or women. (Her son wears lots of green ties, which is odd, and which might throw her off!)
So much fun. I'll narrow down pics soon and put some on the blog.
And there will be more updates.
When creating something that's truly imaginative for readers, a place they've never been before--such as the planet of Caricanus--you can rely to a certain extent on other similar works they might have come across. Outer space adventure and wonderfully inventive planets have been shown to audiences in a very detailed way through movie and television franchises and through innumerable well-crafted science fiction books. Over time an expectation has developed of how the outer-space setting might appear.
Especially in an adventure story, you've got guns and high-tech, unreal weaponry we all wish we had here (or not, depending on who is doing the wishing, a 9-year-old boy or his parents), and numerous languages, different alien races into which writers and worldbuilders put a lot of care and attention--and, of course, a sort of social structure. Politics, usually, a way for the tensions in these worlds to come to life as expressions of what these people believe. But while Ryan and Essie has a lot of those similar tropes, areas of the planet are more ancient than futuristic. That area of the story is more like creating a fantasy world, with a mythology that goes back thousands of years and has a mystical angle.
The seven castles were supposedly built by humans who traveled through a wormhole to this planet during the time of the Earth's ancient world. Each castle is made of a different jewel, with signature features like use of water--the emerald castle is surrounded by a moat, the diamond castle has a waterfall and stream running through the center, the pearl castle is frozen, and so forth. Each one also represents something different and is structured in a different way architecturally as Ryan and Essie go through--what I guess could be called--a classic journey of discovery. The scifi part of the story is there as well, but there's an ancient feel to the planet that I think is very important.
And there will be more updates.
Just when I think my work on old books is done and I can (finally!!) get to some new material, I get another setback. Of course, “setback” is an angsty way to put it and quite incorrect. In fact, each time I’ve had to redo a book or a portion of my website, it’s been a really good step and I’ve been grateful for the result. But when you’re trying to move forward to producing new books, delays to get things right again can happen. It’s just part of the process.
Anyway (lol), just a word of update on the books as they’re being processed now:
And there will be more updates.
I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I get most of my ideas while drifting innocuously around my house and some of those ideas get into print.