It’s a pretty good bet a lot of you are getting ready for the holidays, right? 😊
Of course, for many Christians like myself (as well as a hefty chunk of Americans who aren’t Christians but celebrate our biggest and most popular holiday anyway) it’s about Christmas. The year-end festival devoted to commemorating Christ’s birth. But by holidays this year I really do mean what I say, because the last 3 weeks have been Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday all rolled into one!
Thanksgiving we visited my sister in Oklahoma, as I mentioned last newsletter, and while there we went to see a Christmas lights show and did some ice skating. There was a small rink with very rough ice on the outskirts of the light displays, so the four of us sisters had a lot of fun there. For two of us, including me, it was a first to ever try to put on skates and hobble around the rink as true beginners, gripping the sides for support. I fell on my right side when I got going a little faster and developed a big bruise over the next few days. Lol My married sister said she’s still pretty bad at skating but it appears her husband is a natural—although he didn’t join us to skate that evening, so I didn’t get to see for myself.
Next day they gave me an early birthday gift while attempting to visit a park with a waterfall—Turner Falls. Unfortunately, it was closed. Only 2 days in the year it’s closed and that day was one of them. But I got some really nice pics of the scenery from a distance, climbing around some rocks, and spent some quality time with family as we posed for group pictures. We used to do this years ago, but have not got together to do it for a long time.
Then this Wednesday was my birthday. Yes, I was born the day after Pearl Harbor Day and it seems, from anecdotes, that the doctors who delivered me discussed Pearl Harbor while I was being born. Go figure. 😊 Monday was very close to the day and there was a lovely concert of religious music held at Baylor University by a small student choir. They perform this every year in the Armstrong Browning Library, a simply gorgeous little building dedicated entirely to the poets Robert and Elizabeth Browning. I snapped a few pics of the room and the singers (who are DIMLY VISIBLE in the extreme front of one shot) although the pics just really don’t do it justice. It was a beautiful place and a perfect evening.
Here's a link to a video I took while riding in a horse-drawn carriage. It really captures the sights and sounds of the Christmas lights show.
And here are a few pics from various places I went.
Which brings me to the point—during this holiday season, which is centered around an event meaningful to a particular religion, the thought at hand for everyone is “what do you believe?” Because everyone has a philosophy or religion of some sort. I won’t be presenting any review copies this week since I doubt anyone has time to review for the next couple weeks. But I’ve done a nice, snappy little overhaul of the interior formatting and descriptions for all 11 books. I also added little 5-page teaser scenes about the next installment in the backs of the Palladia Trilogy books, something I'd been needing to do for a while. And I’ll leave you with thoughts about Facets of Fantasy, a book that is all about what the characters believe morally and philosophically. 😊
What do you believe? When it comes to Karl, Don, & Juranai, that's never been in any doubt. Until they run into situations that challenge their beliefs to the core.
For Karl Kallai, like all Medosans, following a path of destructive glory seems inevitable. He's going to chase down the ancient Golden Belt of the Kings no matter what. Visiting the enemy city of Niferna on a diplomatic tour isn't nearly as interesting as searching for magical artifacts. Until the darkness within the things he seeks is challenged by the last person he expected.
Don Tachimant, born in the intergalactic world of the far future, is a skeptic. He believes only in family and government—and as a lawbreaker and a runaway from home, increasingly doesn't believe in those either. When he's dragged back to his family's military school on a secret mission, he finds that great spiritual power is flourishing right under his nose.
Juranai, a grandson of the Wolf-King Thazan, is able to change his form from human to wolf. For enchanted beings like himself, it's natural to believe in the mythical kingdom of Tsayan. But all that is very much in the shadows for Violet Vail, a human from modern Renari. These legends are about as improbable as King Arthur's sword—until a run-in with Juranai leads her straight into the past.
And there will be more updates.
I spent about three days this week traveling to and from Oklahoma to visit my sister and her husband for Thanksgiving. Everyone in our family went and it was my first time to go up there to see her. I went by car on the way there and by train on the way back and did a lot of eating and family time together in between. I had never been out of my state before. I have traveled to foreign countries, but not other states in the US, since Texas is so big that it takes a while just to get across it. 😊 Besides, I’ve never been a big traveler—I would definitely call myself a homebody. So getting to see the beautiful state of Oklahoma was a first for me and I am really glad I went. Soon after crossing the Red River I snapped this awesome moment of a row of wind turbines silhouetted against a low afternoon sun. Fantastic. Next week I'll post some pics of places we visited, including a Christmas lights show and a park with a waterfall. But I didn't have time to go through the photos before sending off this newsletter.
Getting out of the house made me reflective about my writing. Sometimes I spend so much time locked on the computer screen worrying if I am expressing myself clearly and communicating my message that I don’t think about people outside the writing bubble. Seeing all the people on the train and in the places we visited in Oklahoma made me wonder if they would be interested in my books. I imagined describing books to them and making a sales pitch—although I didn’t actually do this as I didn’t want to distract from the holiday time with my family. Many writing coaches recommend getting a really targeted visual image of your reader in your mind, almost as detailed as a specific person. While that focus hasn’t been 100% absent from the last few years, it hasn’t been at the forefront as I was more zoned into the actual mechanics of putting the books at a good level of writing. Journeying to a new place always creates a new story for me—and it also inspires me to get my books out there even more for people to read.
Review copies for the next 2 weeks are Victoria: A Tale of Spain and A Year with the Harrisons. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion.
Victoria: A Tale of Spain Review Copy
A Year with the Harrisons Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
Last month I listened to a couple of free webinars taught by New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Alessandra Torre. She is also the founder of an online writer’s conference called Inkers Con which features specialized classes on many topics. I’d seen some ads for her teaching on FB and I thought “What the heck? Why not give it a try?” Although her genre isn’t the same as mine, most of the topics she covered are applicable to every fiction author because they are basics: how to find an audience, how to promote a book, and how to use Goodreads. It was great to see not only an insight into the industry (she is both traditionally and independently published, so she has knowledge about many aspects of publishing) but also the comments from other authors in the thread below the videos. Many had the same questions I did, such as if her tips would work for children’s authors too and whether Goodreads is even worth it because of all the trash reviews.
The three things I really liked after taking 2 hour-long video classes with her were:
So yes, as you can see by all the smiley faces I went into this webinar sure I’d hear only a thousand and one ways I was behind the curve. (Or I'd hear only tailored, specific advice for her genre which wouldn't help me.) And I certainly heard a lot of things that made me feel like I had a long way to go. But I would wholeheartedly recommend Alessandra’s webinars if you can catch them because I also went away feeling increasingly confident.
On a side note, fall has actually come here! I woke up a few mornings ago to this wonderful foggy mist covering our orchard and the remains of our garden. (Need to get to work preparing it for fall, I realize looking at this picture. Summer went by so fast. It’s time to dig up those old plants and get the strawberries ready for winter.) In the front you can see a little planter of red flowers. Another memento from my sister’s birthday, this chrysanthemum adds some bright color just as the year is starting to get chillier and grayer. Very cute, I think.
Review copies for the new two weeks are The Test of Devotion and This Merry Summertime. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (MerrySummer is a good sampler to read if you're just getting started on my work because it contains funny, pint-sized miniatures of every genre I've written except sci-fi. Be aware these stories are meant to be funny! Don't be one of those readers, and I've had several of them, who missed the point of something I wrote or even got anxious and offended because they didn't understand it was meant to be comedy. Not that any of you are that dumb, I'm sure--but anyway, you are duly warned!)
The Test of Devotion Review Copy
This Merry Summertime Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Adventure Stories
Always looking to better my craft.
Join the newsletter below! It goes out twice a week. This signup has no reader magnets attached but I am preparing a freebie to be offered as part of the welcome email in the near future.
Check out my list of Top 5 Best Children's Adventure Books About Family and Exploring I've Recommended on Shepherd.com!