As the process goes from completing books to zoning in on a readership for each one, I'm straightening out all sorts of tiny details. I'm not going to make the mistake of not knowing who each book is for before I start marketing them. In short, I've learned this interesting lesson--when presenting books to the world, it is best to have a plan. (Who knew, right? haha)
So I'm getting the books labeled genre and age-wise (except for Bellevere, still working on that.) Victoria is going through a pretty big rewrite to pull some of melodrama down and make Victoria's personality blend more with Alyce--or what used to be Alyce's, now the two are combined that's no longer a useful way to put it. The Prince's Ball is retitled to Temmark Osteraith.
I'm going to do a different print of Birthday Present. Old Facets (containing Jurant) and Ryan and Essie still on Amazon, but taking a back seat. Blue Facets has three stories and I like their vibe together.
The five published books on my website are all the same length, about 52K, except for Consuela. It's a little bit shorter. At first I presented many books as novellas, individual longer short stories, long collections of stories, or even the occasional novel. But as I worked with the books, stories took a more mainstream shape. Novels got cut. Novellas merged with each other. Extra stories that padded out books disappeared. All of them became a very similar page count (250-280 pages) and suddenly all the little random "stories" had been replaced by streamlined books.
I didn't start out with this in mind, because although my stories were often an awkward length, I've read and enjoyed books of any length and I didn't plan to add or crop words just to fulfill someone's idea of a book. But I'm glad it happened. Nowhere is this new streamlined kind of book more visible than in "Victoria." It started as a novella of 30K words, then it shrank to a much shorter story. Then it blended with "Alyce," an even shorter story (about 18K) that had been once released as part of the same series. After I went back to the old, longer version of Victoria--keeping the merge with Alyce--I had to rewire my mind to realize this is a novel now. I'd become programmed to automatically think of Victoria and Alyce as short. But together, they became a full novel.
A Year with the Harrisons shrank to become a similar length and when two of the Facets stories were removed, Facets of Fantasy was also comparable. And so is Bellevere House, which started longer, but after a special rewrite just about Ed and Faye's relationship, became exactly the same length as the others.
Yes! My books, like tangled hair, got themselves straightened out.
And there will be more updates.
Among the many things I wanted to correct this year--along with formatting, book organization, marketing, website design, blogging consistency, and unconstructive conversations with people--was the perception of romance in my works. I've never included much of it. When I read books, they tend to be children's, some Christian devotional, a little memoir or book about crafts and fashion--very rare YA. Romance isn't common on my periphery and that is because I TRULY do not usually find it an interesting aspect of a story.
But in a market saturated with this topic, it became easy for people to assign this silence to the reverse--a great deal of interest that I was concealing. After all, people often find it hard to talk about something they really care about. They feel personal, lacking in confidence, and very much involved. For many years I've experienced snaps, snipes, whiplash remarks, and accidental slips that have revealed people assume romance is on my mind. I'm "really" a romance writer. One person believed I wrote romance for literally no reason and seemed nonplussed to find I wrote fantasy. Another accused me that my work was "really" 50 Shades of Grey and sent me endless skits that were "spoofs" of what I really wrote, supposedly. Another naturally told me one of my characters must be really me because, although this character was a small child, she was set up in opposition to a boy for most of the book. The message was clear--I was writing "romance" and hiding by making the characters children. And on and on and on.
Because lack of clarity might have led to some errors about what my position is, I'm taking care to adjust book descriptions to hint what the character relationships might be. Who is in a relationship or might be interested in being in one. Because I am now talking about them, it will be impossible to assume I am concealing them, and you will also notice that the focus is always on broader themes.
And there will be more updates.
I won't deny that Bellevere House hasn't always been the most fun to write for me as an author. I took it on as a challenge, not for fun, and I was surprised myself at the direction some arcs of the story took. If this book surprised me at first, it continues to do so. The initial reaction to Bellevere left me in little doubt that it had no future and no audience. It had fallen flat on readers and was to be discounted as an ignominious member of the Jane Austen collection. Since I had written it exclusively for this collection, I will say I was more than a little ticked-off by this because it seemed to me all my effort was being wasted.
I planned to keep it only as long as was necessary, since no one would ever want to read it again after the collection's first run. By this time I was already involved in other projects and more than happy enough to do this. In fact, I didn't have time to devote to Bellevere anymore and I had even written a contemporary version to give the story a chance since one of the biggest sources of concern was how I handled the vintage era. It's dialogue, slang, pop culture, and cliches. However, Bellevere-vintage-version (annoyingly, I now felt) just got consistent reads on Amazon. The pageviews on my website were steady tending towards high and often jumped by 1000% if I mentioned Bellevere or even if I did not. If I talked about another of my books, the Bellevere page soared.
I really felt like tearing out my hair.
I'm not sure why people look so much at a "rejected" book. I've often tried to send sunken books afloat again and it doesn't usually work. It's an uphill task at the best of times if you try. While I'd like to think this is just an after-thought as people come from another VJA book and sort of try Bellevere out of a sense of duty, I'm not sure. If I didn't want to read a book I'd skip it whether it was in a series or not.
And there will be more updates.
I've always been a writer. Author of 9 published books. Most recently published A Year with the Harrisons, a variation on Little Women. Next year will be publishing The Prince's Ball, a futuristic fairy-tale adventure.