Last year I became a driving teacher. Our family uses the popular Driver Ed in a Box method because graduates of this program have over 80% reduction in collisions. (Disclaimer: IF they follow the program. I made an error in teaching things out of order and you'll see below what happened to me....) After months of listening to audio, watching video, scanning the road for hazards, and practicing parking on hot summer afternoons, I started to see spots before my eyes. Spots of anxiety, of trying to prepare for any possible error, of worry that someone is going to back into my car. I’m endlessly afraid of a collision because as the teacher, I am responsible. But situations come up through the actions of other drivers, actions I can’t control, and I still have to be the responsible adult.
Actually, this has been a fantastic experience. I’ve loved spending more time with my sister working as a team on something and it was amazing to see how much knowledge I had that I could pass on to her. Now you might wonder, if this was so great, WHY I was paranoid all the time. That’s easy. 😊 It’s because our second day together in the car, I introduced some material too early and soon we smashed through a pillar on the porch and bent the side of the lawnmower like a plastic plate. It’s a good thing the lawnmower was there otherwise she would have driven through the house! That was a terrifying afternoon. We got very lucky, of course. The pillar was easily replaced and the lawnmower could be bent back into shape. The car was not damaged. This picture is of our driveway, the lawnmower (see on the right), and our neighbor’s dogs who happen to be there. But I show you this picture because we didn’t take one right after the collision. We were too busy and I was thinking “got to take responsibility for this” the whole time. But it made me a much better teacher in the end and I think a smarter person too.
Any of you ever tried to do something you haven’t done before? New, for the first time? Learning or teaching can both be scary and nobody out there can say they nailed them right away. They might act like they were flawless. But actually they simply don’t remember the past very clearly and are lumping their since acquired skills with the memories of first learning as if the two had existed side by side. There is a rule (always applied with a bit of a sarcastic smile) that hindsight is 20/20. But with every rule you’ll find an exception and it's those who pretend they had no trouble along the journey. Their hindsight is frankly myopic and inaccurate. We all make mistakes starting out--especially if we are busy and juggling several things at once. And everyone I know is always proud to say they've been busy and have had too much going on.
This Merry Summertime was a charming example of a flop when I released it a couple of years ago. That was my fault since I was very busy when I published it--apparently too busy to notice what really links the book is not humor, but young women because it says so in the subtitle. It's "An Anthology Celebrating Family, Fantasy, and Young Women," not "A Collection of Satirical Short Stories." Like when I taught my sister driving techniques out of order though they were clearly delineated in front of me, I was just being stupid and I wrote a description for the book as a set of satires when that's not even what's in it. (The result of stress, is my theory. 2020 was a hard year.) True there is a lot of comedy in the book, but it only serves to lighten the mood around some pretty serious ideas. Each story features women and girls who dictate the plots even when the men and boys think they have all the power. Naturally, since 85% of the anthology deals with bygone eras of history. And with last Monday being Valentine's Day, it's neatly appropriate to talk selling points on a book that praises the power of women in their relationships, since every short in it has a romantic plot too. 😊
A book for princesses of every age . . .
Young or old, are you a Princess? Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter at all. Powerful or commonplace, it isn’t important. Girls are princesses and women are princesses at heart. This set of seven comedy stories about royals and royalty celebrates the princess in everyone. Here are the names of the protagonists—the very royal young ladies.
Meet Arangiphaten: A haughty Egyptian queen whose romance with a vampire puts a lot of teenagers into sometimes slapstick danger—and eventually love triumphs over all.
Meet Helena and Nora: Two ordinary young women who get tangled up in Shakespeare’s magical world of romance—one as an actress playing Ophelia and one as a character in a comedy revision of All’s Well That Ends Well.
Meet Ella: A Cinderella in a land filled with fairies who think they’re better than people—until one of them takes a lot of interest in her.
Meet AnnaRuth and Everwynne: Teenage girls filled with all the angst and self-importance of growing up, as well as all its beauty.
Meet The Heroine: True to her name, a lovely young woman who comes like a princess to a befuddled western town and eventually restores it to sanity.
Light-hearted with just enough snark to be true to human nature, wit adds depth to these classic tales of love and friendship. In their families, their friendships, and their romances, girls bring a special touch to the world.
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.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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