Facets of Fantasy was the first book many of my readers discovered. It had two editions, different cover tweaks, ebooks and paperbacks published years apart, and at one time it contained both “Millhaven Castle” (which had already appeared in The Birthday Present book) and a shorter version of City of the Invaders. So Facets has been continually molded and changed into the book we see today. It is pared down, in a sense, to a core of 3 stories that never had a life outside of this anthology while others spun out or moved on. Finding the central characters can be tricky when people's original concept of what this book was about included stories that have since moved elsewhere. But these three stories, unlike the others that came and went, really are “fantasy” stories. Even Jurant is space fantasy rather than sci-fi. And they all have an adventure that calls the characters into action whether they want to sit back or not. Doing nothing is never an option when the world—or your family—must be saved.
The central five characters reflect the book’s essence as its identity solidifies. (And about time too. This book has been seriously bopping around for far too long.) 😊
Ferdinand in Halogen Crossing wears many hats as his roles include villain, boyfriend, antagonist, and eventually friend. “Nice guy” isn’t really one of his qualities though—at least, not on the surface. He got caught up in the government’s secrets and ended up losing a lot of his identity as he became a pawn. But by the end, we see he isn’t entirely bad.
Violet in The Amulet of Renari really has an affinity for bad situations, but she’s indestructible. Risky adventures, sinister backstories, incoming invasions—pretty much anything you’d want to avoid is her specialty. She’d just as soon stay in her remote home full of secrets as have adventures, but when catastrophes engulf other people she somehow sails through.
King Flavian is Ferdinand’s boss. He’s one of those side characters you need to watch out for--dishonest, crafty, and pretty good at both. His whole family has gained immense power through controlling a magical artifact that can destroy them, which is kind of the ultimate gamble. Since King F. hosts all the guests in the story, he’s in charge in his own home. But it’s hard to win if the people who actually own the artifact show up.
Lord Andre is a middle-aged man who has become very isolated and very reclusive. He runs the Jurant military high school, but recently he’s become rather demented and believes he can tap spiritual power to make physical bodies stronger. Catching the eye of the government, since his behavior DOES sound like a bad idea, he reunites with his grandson and ends up getting caught.
Charis is an ordinary Jurant student, with an extraordinary attitude, and she steals the show from Sekana, Lord Andre’s lab rat. Although a bit of a tagalong in the galaxy’s elite power structure, Charis exhibits a sassy attitude, kick-butt fighting skills, and an inability to back down. Fights with guys seem to be her specialty, but she dresses as well as her uniform will allow and some might call her beautiful.
And there will be more updates.
During the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve steadily blogged and posted on social media about working on all my previous material. My goal was to develop a coherent label, something people could recognize and feel confident about reading. They would know who I was and what I “offered,” a connection that was lacking in my early publishing years. Everyone drifts at first until they get a handle on something new, including publishing. At least, I really hope this is true—otherwise, I was just a super-clutz at first. 😊
While this was going on, I didn’t put out any additional books. My most recent book, A Year with the Harrisons, was just an older story that got delayed in publication. So after Bellevere House, which was part of a group project in 2017, I went on creative shutdown and into branding mode. Every time I would try to work on new ideas, I had to return to what was already out there and make it better. As a result, these earlier books became continually NEW as their audiences and marketing grew more structured to get them in line with a developing brand of low-key, pleasant fiction.
Working on all 9 books at once involved a bit of rewriting, some editing, a lot of new cover design, and major analysis. Lots and lots and lots of analysis of the story components and how they measured up. I became a one-track feedback machine, from my own perceptions to the reactions of other people. And as those books got whipped into shape, it was pretty full-time, you might say. It wasn’t possible to add a tenth—a really new publication—to the list yet, much as I wanted to.
But I am creating new ideas and I hope to move forward this year into the next phase—a new book!
And there will be more updates.
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For almost 15 years, A Year with the Harrisons remained the same. The book was begun in 2005, released to some early readers in 2010, and the primary difference when it was finally published in 2018 was that people weren’t as friendly about it as they’d been when reading the manuscript years earlier. A few touch-ups to polish it further and trim a little padding last year were just cosmetic work on a book that was now at a standstill. But the story itself remained steady and constant. In the book, the characters themselves, a family of homeschooled girls, comment on how stationary their world is. Their home, visited by their aunt 40 years ago as a teenager, is just the same when she steps back into it.
But this year, the Harrison time-warp finally wasn’t there anymore. Something really changed. It used to be a very bouncy, cheerful sort of book, packed with slightly cartoonish, slice-of-life incidents. (Think Dickens, since 19th-century novels were an inspiration for writing the Harrisons.) And that content is still there, but somehow A Year with the Harrisons has become very quiet. Letty, the heroine, seems to have changed a lot more than just her age shooting down from the first draft. She had been a college girl and was now in high school—not a huge change and mostly made to market the book a little younger since I publish a lot of books with that angle. But Letty is . . . different. After all these years of working with the character, I feel as if I suddenly don’t know her.
Betty, Letty's father’s cousin, helms the second half of the story, which is about Mr. Harrison’s side of the family. I included her to give a small-town flavor to the community where the Harrison girls live. Originally Betty seemed a bit cynical, a working woman and rather bored single mother managing her life. But lately it seems there’s more to her plot than that. Her interest in the homeschooling family is shown in the first chapter and while it’s not aggressive, I’d call it watchful. Observant of them. Every time she sees Letty, she asks her questions—to which Letty replies off-handedly, not aware that Betty might be watching her family. Letty’s lack of insecurity about this means she and Betty are pretty cordial considering they have little in common and Betty is much older.
And that’s just one of the relationships. In A Year with the Harrisons, something is not what it used to be. People have gone from this quiet story—but they’ve been replaced by someone else.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
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With so many great authors already out there, what do my books offer? Simply put, they are peaceful. While a lot of writers are genuinely telling a wonderful story I can't tell, I also see too many noisy and angry books on the market. Only a few actually examine mature or gritty situations--too many are just noisy with an unpleasant tone. Even well-intentioned books that preach good values aren't always pleasant. If the author is correcting and lecturing me or other people, it doesn't make for a peaceful reading experience.
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.