This week I'm examining The Birthday Present in more detail and The Birthday Present and Ryan and Essie are both on sale. They are priced at $0.99 each, which is the lowest price they've had in about a year. Both are in group sale events and not only can you find some new authors (or maybe authors you’ve noticed for a while and this time their book is on sale!), you can see what types of books are similar to mine. Market context has historically been a little hard to get on these two books, specifically, so I encourage you to check out these sales.
The Summer SFF Bargain Books promo has The Birthday Present and emphasizes fairy tales, academy stories, military sci-fi, and attractive protagonists on the covers. It has mostly adult books, but with a few YA sprinkled in. Click here to visit it.
The Marvelous and Magical Fantasy promo has Ryan and Essie and a good list of intelligent, thought-provoking fantasy (think A Wrinkle in Time) that doesn’t sacrifice adventure while exploring ideas. It has books for all ages from children's to adult. Click here to visit it.
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I am starting a little series, In a Nutshell, based off of the Five Central Characters series that has been going on monthly. It explores some of the central five characters for each book in a more detailed way. And for The Birthday Present the ones to look at are Lucy from “The Birthday Present” and Lord Harry from “Millhaven Castle.”
In “Birthday Present,” it isn’t told from Lucy’s POV as much as from that of one of the boys at the military school she visits. Her important relationships are with the human beings in the colony she comes from. Aure, the other focus of the story, relates mostly to the culture he oversees, including the boys Lucy befriends. But Lucy has a job to do towards changing the society Aure has created. She is a very attractive and brave person in spite of her faults. She can be a bit stubborn, she is around very dangerous things without seeming to realize it, and she argues a lot. But that doesn’t negate her courage and her dedication to doing the best she can. She’s a well-intentioned girl even if she’s a bit overwhelmed by the things around her, and you don’t have to be perfect to do a good job or to stand up for what’s right.
In "Millhaven Castle," it’s similar in that the POV character, Alyce, isn’t quite what motivates the story. She is grabbed by the protagonists, Lord Harry and those around him like his brother. Lord Harry drives the story and his relationships with other Capsells determine a lot of what he does. Alyce sort of walks right into a situation that has a lot of anger bubbling up within it and she doesn’t quite understand because Harry is a very angry and moody person, but he tries to restrain it by acting in a jerky manner, all fits and starts. He is quick-tempered, often interrupts, and behaves oddly because he’s upset about things around him. He helps Alyce to show his disapproval of his brother, does not really explain why he’s helping, and does not let her see what a caring person he can really be. His inability to explain his motives is a hint they might not be 100% good, but he is viewed as a sympathetic character anyway.
So, both characters show there is a lot of subtext within The Birthday Present book. Both the stories have many relationships that are only hinted at. But sometimes it’s best to write that way because readers will be smart enough to figure out what’s going on.
And there will be more updates.
This month A Year with the Harrisons is going to be in two free book promotions, one for adults and one for children. Normally I only do one promotion per book, but Harrisons is a really neat story because it is peppered with grownup characters who have a lot of pizzazz and a larger than life flair and with teen characters who belong to real-world conversations about society, education, and family. So both adults and teens can really enjoy it, making it cross over into both categories.
This week's promotion is the June Children’s Book Giveaway, which has lots of books for young people ranging from preschool to young adult. A Year with the Harrisons, obviously, is YA so it’s a bit on the older end of the spectrum here. Click here to visit this great giveaway if you enjoy children’s and YA books and would like to grab some while they’re free. Just subscribe to author’s newsletters.
You can download Harrisons along with the other books. If that doesn’t work, click this link instead for a direct download. But only for my book. Be sure to check out the others!
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It’s certainly time to start greasing the publishing wheel again and breaking some ground for new books. While there are always things that could still be developed about my older books, audiences reinvent themselves naturally over time anyway. So in a way, there’s no “end” to it. For example, just look at the many film and TV adaptations of Emma or Pride and Prejudice. While some things remain constant, there are also abundant differences as time goes on. Each new version builds on older ones, as some characters go through many phases and develop in surprising ways.
Similarly, while my older books are still active entities, with ups and downs, I want to write more books because there are so many characters I haven’t explored yet. As we go month-by-month through the five central characters of each book I’ve published, what really shows is that each story is unique. They offer different characters for readers to relate to. After all, books aren’t relevant unless they echo our relationships in real life. We’ll feel about characters the way we feel about ourselves and the people around us.
When someone responds to a character, they think this little avatar tells their story. And I get more ideas as I go places and live life—ideas for characters. Somewhere, out there, there is always someone new to write about--their relationships, loves and hates, friendships and adventures, the genre they like to read, the historical era they’ve claimed as theirs. Wherever I go, I look for a new story to tell because so many people who deserve to have their story told haven’t appeared in my work yet. I don’t write about everyone, of course. That would be beyond my capacity and pretty exhausting too, to understate. But like most authors, I belong to a particular set of people. I call this a “dimension,” probably because of a residue left on me from writing so much speculative. 😀 Many authors use the term “tribe” or similar expressions to refer to their people set. You just never know when a new set of characters from your dimension is going to show up and it’s always very exciting when another story starts rolling in.
And there will be more updates.
Victoria: A Tale of Spain started as a rework of “Millhaven Castle.” Before MC got published, there had been a much longer manuscript about Alyce and I wanted to include a few things from that unpublished book in a rewrite. The resulting story, called “Alyce,” was followed by a draft of Victoria a year later and (briefly) an early draft of Consuela. But “Alyce,” rather than an MC rewrite, became about totally different characters even though they appeared under the same names at first, like Alyce and Lord Harry. Realizing I had a unique story springing up where it hadn’t been expected, I merged these new characters into Victoria and dropped the MC names to finalize an independent book that has, I’ll admit, some of my personal favorite characters out of what I’ve written.
It’s tricky to define the five central characters for a book in which people’s initial idea of these characters as part of the Millhaven Castle world has been replaced as the story moved into its own identity. But some things have remained constant and have risen to the top: 😊
Duke Carlos is the crusty, slightly enigmatic father of the book’s protag, Duchess Victoria. He heads a large family of girls along with his shy wife and while he seems easily duped by a con man working nefariously for the King, it’s true the family ends up none the worse for it. Often seeming critical and bluff, it’s possible Duke Carlos is much less vulnerable than he looks.
Roderick is the King’s younger brother. Hardly an enviable position at a court run by his angsty brother, so Roderick, like Duke Carlos, is not as easy to know as he appears. When rescuing Victoria, he often seems a bit blind to how she might feel. But he’s a genuinely caring friend and gives her some good guidance on how to deal with things.
Victoria is a young girl who seems withdrawn and quiet, but she’s surprisingly tough. Like many in this story, she conceals her true feelings, but in her case it’s part of her personality. She’s a reserved and stubborn person who is able to endure several scares, a lot of travel, and situations of hardship without being phased.
King Felipe is the greedy king who will let nothing—even a threat only he knows exists—keep him from enjoying his life as monarch. As one of the most really villainous characters I’ve shown, he’s also one of my favorites. Very entertaining as he tries to keep what is essentially stolen, he’s a selfish and at times self-pitying ruler who is very human as well.
Araina is the youngest of Victoria’s many sisters. She’s only about 11 or 12 and is a spunky, active, slightly daredevil girl. Victoria sends her to Venice with family to keep her safe—but it’s not easy to keep a girl safe when she almost managed to fall off a cliff outside her own home. When Victoria’s adventures end up taking her to Venice, Araina is right there along for the ride.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
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When I set about defining my books, I wanted them to be positive places where a gentleness emanated from the pages. A hopeful safety lies in gentleness and there's also an honesty to it. A whirlwind of pushy book blurbs and hot characters (or whatever type character the author wants you to admire) can conceal a reality underneath. A quiet--possibly even lurking--reality that's more visible if you dial down the volume. That lurking reality isn't necessarily bad, but like anything quiet, it gets drowned out by conflict and angst. Peaceful fiction can help explore the truth that noisy books ignore.
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.