Last month I listened to a webinar on how to do audiobooks. I’d always considered them out of my range because it was way (and I do mean WAY) too expensive to hire out the work and DIY was hopelessly technical. I knew the market for audio was huge, but I always thought of it as a somewhat optional format and not only because of cost. It was because unless you can get Shakespearean actors or better yet a cast recording with multiple voices (both of which were what I listened to on cassette tape growing up) listening to an audiobook doesn't half match what you can imagine in your head while reading. But there's actually a pretty big market for simple author recordings because readers want to feel close to authors and hearing their voice adds that sense of trust, like they know how the author perceives and intends the book to be.
While nothing really comes close to equalling an ensemble with multiple voices for recording fiction, especially if it's a complex book with lots of characters, it's fairly straightforward and inexpensive to do simple author recordings yourself. Once I realized there is actually a market for authors reading their own books (rather than author reading being a necessity when other narrators aren't possible), I came away from the webinar buzzing with questions, plans, and movements towards creating my own audiobooks. There are three primary reasons for my doing audiobooks.
It will take a little while to get the ball rolling on this, because there is a learning curve involved. But having mastered all the formatting of print and ebooks, it is really exciting for me to break into something new. Suddenly everything feels so fresh. My books come alive in my head in an entirely new way and I’m sure they’ll do that for readers (cough, listeners) as well. With this Sunday being Easter, it’s joyful to reflect on how much of a quiet rebirth is taking place in my writing. Those dead times of very little engagement are part of the journey. This will happen to every writer eventually. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the story and for me personally, as a Christian, renewal after everything falls apart is what I truly believe in.
The second Palladia book, Consuela, is a story that came back from nothing. And like most things that were resurrected, it looks quite different in its new form. It was the middle part of a series, wedged between two halves of what became Victoria: A Tale of Spain. Although it was a lively story, it wasn’t doing anything for anyone, really. My sister once told me frankly she didn’t know why I wrote it and I think at the time that’s how a lot of people felt about my writing overall! Victoria was really a sort of biopic about my family and my trip to Europe in 2011. Consuela, however, was a work of fiction. It was a very, very loose spinoff retelling of a classic novel and the characters are exclusively fiction. After its publication in 2014, it was also abruptly discontinued. While I didn’t know why way back in 2018. I did start to realize it should separate from Victoria, so I revived it in an entirely new form. It took a while for this transition to solidify because people can have trouble accepting a big change like that. (This actually happened to Jesus during the Easter story, by the way. "You can't be here. You're dead, right?") So many out there will be a doubting Thomas when faced with something that goes against what they expect. The actual narrative in Consuela really hasn't changed that much—but the way it is placed among my works means everything.
My name is Consuela. I’m the one who doesn’t want to fit in.
In 2335 on Earth almost everybody is either EC or Invader. If you’re caught in between them or mixed-class, it’s tough. I’m bored by the whole thing, though. I’m an Invader to the core—I’ve got everything down pat. And I wish I wasn’t just exactly what I’m supposed to be.
My secret is I’ve always wanted to know more about the EC. I don’t know why we’re supposed to hate them. And when this random old EC woman asks me to come with her as a translator (because guess what, centuries of fighting between our two groups has created lots of barriers!) I couldn’t turn it down. What I didn’t anticipate was how much trouble my new friend is in. I always thought EC were pack-minded and loyal, but it seems I was wrong. I might turn a few heads by spending time with Miss Plummer—but if your friends turn out to be your enemies, maybe you need your enemies to become your friends.
It's Palladia, though. Here both enemy and friend are words that so often mean the same thing. Would you trust me? I’ve got to shrug and say maybe you shouldn’t.
And there will be more updates.
I will confess something that might or might not matter to all of you—but I will come clean about it anyway. I don’t enjoy putting puzzles together. 😊
When I was a kid I received my fair share of puzzles and so did all my siblings. Puzzles are a nice, safe choice for someone you don’t know well. Some of the pictures were very pretty—lovely paintings or nice stock photos of things like barns against green woods. Eventually as an adult I realized I had NEVER even opened some of them and just gave them away. But many adults love puzzles. They are experts and spend weeks putting together extremely difficult puzzles with thousands of pieces. Often the pictures are chosen because it’s hard to put them together. I remember hearing about a couple who loved to do hard puzzles and they said the hardest one they had ever tried was of three cheetahs. Anyone can use their imagination and visualize what a many-thousands-of-pieces puzzle of nothing but random spots and golden specks would be like. I would consider that real torture, but I think these people enjoyed the challenge.
In recent years I have worked on puzzles a little more because I needed to improve my analytical skills for SWGOH. I love to collect the little characters in this video game, but there is also a population of serious “gaming is my life” people there and if you do not get some of the more difficult, higher-tier characters you can’t get into a good guild and many rewards are available only in guilds. These difficult, higher-tier characters appear in special events that require, in some cases, massive preparation. Seriously, there are whole Youtube channels devoted to tutorial videos for how to do these events and how to play this game generally, and I’m like “I just want this event to be over with quickly, please make it less extreme!”
But then, as I said before, I never liked puzzles. Doing these really hard events is like doing a puzzle. Every piece has to fit together perfectly, including that last piece that’s fallen under the table or gotten lost, or the whole thing won’t work. 😊 Gradually, I’ve learned to enjoy challenging myself more. I realized after watching these tutorial videos that some people actually think this is FUN. These events are deliberately difficult because people love sitting down with a challenge and spending hours figuring out how to do it. They feel it teases and sharpens their brains to examine every angle until they find the right strategy. Until all the pieces are in place. I’m even starting to appreciate the sense of accomplishment prepping for one of these game events is giving me and the heightened sense of detail I have gained.
One of the older books I looked at very little at first was Ryan and Essie. This was a manuscript from my teen years that I put out there simply because I was publishing a lot, like 3 books a year, and was running out of material. I felt it wasn't the best story idea and it didn't have a great hook, but I tried it anyway and then forgot about it. Later I realized that many of its situations could have coded significance--and a reader who "gets" this story might enjoy fitting all the symbolic pieces together to form the completed concept in their mind. Some people love to keep their brains always working, to challenge themselves even when reading a book recreationally. So then I made some edits. I bumped Essie's age up to equal Ryan's and gave her father a specific occupation. This matters because Ryan was given strong individual development, but we knew almost nothing about Essie and her plots were not emotionally equivalent to his because she was younger. Small changes—but for the person who sees a special meaning in every detail, important perhaps. If you put together a puzzle, you have to make sure you do it right.
I am Tarvelas of the Emerald Castle. On Caricanus, a planet far beyond yours in the distant reaches of the universe, my home is called Castile Enfarm. It is one of the seven great castles of Caricanus. Each one was carved out of a great jewel in ancient times and filled with the light of Trisagion. Our deity.
My home is dying. Humans made this planet's history when they came to it from your world. Now, two humans have come to Caricanus again. A boy and a girl. They are named Ryan and Essie. They are ordinary children except they both possess far too much stubbornness. Their coming is the fulfillment of a prophecy and I know it will kill me. I can feel it. I won't be the only one who dies. What is happening will shake up and change the whole world. And I also know, strange as it sounds, that this is a very good thing. If your world is falling into darkness, there are worse things than death. There are forces of total destruction. These two children represent life and in doing that they bring death to what is old, but not destruction. Right now they focus too much on what is unimportant, on things that don't need to be looked at.
They must learn to care about others.
And there will be more updates.
Celestine Princess (Palladia Series #3) has arrived.
I've spoken before about the challenges of putting another book into this series. It's been a rewarding story to write as well. It's live in nine stores and should be available from libraries in about a week. Paperback and ebook were released simultaneously, a break with my usual publishing trend of delays on one or the other. This title is not on a preorder or an Amazon exclusive so it can be read immediately from any store.
Opening lines for the book are below:
"The sun was just dawning and eagles were flying high in the east. The day they came."
To read a complete description, visit Celestine Princess's website page.
After sending out a post with signup for my street team, I thought about something that (slaps forehead) hadn't occurred to me before. Managing 2 separate lists will be tough with everything I'm doing right now. It was interesting to see the reaction I got, but I'm going to just send out general requests to the whole mailing list for now. Sheerly, honestly, because it's easier and I don't want to pour a lot of time into begging for reviews. Lots of authors go all out with swag, reader bundles, little gifts, etc. I'd love to give back to my readers, but I also need, right now, to minimize effort that takes me away from writing.
Once Celestine is up and running, I'll put a review copy somewhere for people to get and then tell you about it. I'm not impatient if books have no reviews after a while (MerrySummer has been published for a year and still has 0.) They'll come when you don't expect them--I've routinely found that to be true of reviews. And basically, of anything. I am already planning my Scotland book. Talked about it last year, I believe, but I'm having trouble remembering. This book will be funnnnnn. So fun.
Now to throw in something personal--here's a pic of our Very Large Zucchini. Our gardening this year resulted in a few jumbo zucchini instead of the usual smaller ones. Seriously, the biggest one weighed 4 pounds, which is simply enormous for a zucchini. I think we unintentionally grew a prizewinner!
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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