The World Beyond
Springtime has come to Texas and it feels even more pleasant because it follows closely on the heels of a devastating winter storm that hit here a short time ago. Our hardy little rosemary plant died during the storm—which was a pity because rosemary is one of the plants I’ve always had success growing. In fact, because of my good memories spent gardening over the years, I named Arielle’s sister Rosemary in Celestine Princess. This character doesn’t appear much as Arielle is separated from her family throughout the book, but choosing this name for someone that the MC cares about is a little personal touch for me.
So we replaced the old rosemary plant with a new one and our plum trees are blossoming beautifully. One of them had a large limb, almost a third of the tree, cut off last year due to a disease, but it seems to be in a great mood in spite of that. The branches are white with flowers. We are also experimenting with growing carrots, which aren’t easy to nurture and we haven’t grown them in my memory. (My mother says she tried to grow them once, but that was before I could remember.) Tending things that take effort to care for and looking at the enduring strength of our tree that has been through so much—imagine if your legs were cut off and then you were subjected to abnormal temperatures!—reminds me of the vicissitudes of characters in fiction and why we respond to those so much. The struggle of life and also its healing are echoed in the stories we read and seen even in the natural world around us.
My current writing effort looks like it is shaping up to be Palladia 4. It’s a little early to tell, but it seems to be getting longer than just a short story. When I first wrote Palladia 3, it felt like a chance to finish out a trilogy that was started years ago and never completed. But by the time the book grew during the writing, the world of Palladia had really gone on a journey and Celestine Princess didn’t feel like the end of a trilogy, but a middle book in a series. Characters from the earlier books, like Katia, had also really grown up. As a guide for Arielle, she represents faith to believe in what is right, and from a teenage outsider who moved into a corrupt city and blew up a building (among other things she and her brother did), she showed a much more mature persona by Palladia 3. Perhaps that’s a natural effect of so many years passing since I wrote books using this world.
This new story will use the culture of Alphea (Mars) as a setting. The Palladia world is largely dystopian in terms of “the Earth won’t look ideal in the future” framework, but it also mentions a colonized solar system and we’ve never visited any of these places that are mentioned. We mostly visit Palladian countries caught in a friction between two cultural groups—a friction that reached a boiling point around Arielle’s adventures in Celestine Princess. But writing a brief area on Luna (the Moon) in that book really sent me into a whole story set off-Earth. I had considered characters taking a trip to Alphea last year, but now I am revisiting the concept after doing Palladia 3 it’s a quite different take from before. The Palladia books each have a different protagonist, but characters and locations from earlier books pop up in later ones and Katia will reappear in this one. Her personality has grown so strong that by now I have this sensation of “these new characters are going to meet her. I wonder what that will be like for them? I think they will be very impressed by how she rises to challenges.” And as for Miss Plummer from Consuela, who has it in for Arielle’s former mentor Mrs. Hoberman . . . well, that argument seems to have flown all the way to Mars and writing it is one of the really fun things about this new book.
And there will be more updates.
First off, I’d like to let you know about another great StoryOrigin giveaway. It’s in one of my favorite categories—All-Genre, with a bent towards Young Adult and family-friendly. Although genre-specific events are great for getting people who are interested in that genre, all-genre events are perfect for any books that don’t fit neatly into just one genre label. For instance, This Merry Summertime, the book in this giveaway, contains a mix of historical, fantasy, and contemporary under its celebration of “Family, Fantasy, and Young Women” subtitle. So any of those genres might cancel the others out for a genre-specific event, but all-genre is right up its alley and the fact the giveaway is clean and family-friendly is an added perk. It’s a big giveaway—74 books & 54 authors—so you’re sure to find something you like in this diverse newsletter builder event. Click here to see all the books!
Finished the first draft of Palladia 3 this week! I’ve got to say, I haven’t written a story like this before. But what I’ve liked about working on each one of my books is they don’t duplicate each other, so readers get to explore a different scenario every time. That keeps things fresh because if authors have created for a long time, as I have, they run the risk of lapsing into staleness, repetitions of previous books, and a dearth of new ideas. But that hasn’t happened, at least so far, to me as this book was an emotionally intensive story to write with one of the weirdest plot premises I’ve ever used. I've put the manuscript aside for a few weeks so I can go back into it with fresh eyes later on and get it ready for beta readers, and I’ll write a full description when I dive back into the story a short time from now.
But just to let you know what it’s about, the story built to a climactic encounter with the villain in which Arielle, inspired by Katia and challenged by Consuela, faced her inner weaknesses and learned to rise past a situation that ate away at her self-esteem and made her bitter. The action takes place in Dorilantz, a country that neighbors Palladia and Belaria but was not visited in the first two books, which has an oppressive regime that still persecutes the EC. When Arielle is chosen for a symbolic ritual called The Princess is Not Pretty, in which she is put on a stage and mocked every day as a way for the two people groups in her country to come to terms, she pretty much gets really frustrated about it. But in choosing the right—yet not natural-feeling decision—to think outside her immediate emotions, she ends up making the world a better place and coming to terms with what she was afraid of.
And the title will be: Celestine Princess. The logic for this naming is simple. The first two Palladia books have titles that begin with the letter C and cover art that shows one girl as the central concept of each book. It keeps the series branding consistent to use these for the third book—title starts with “C” and the emphasis is on the female MC of that book. The title for Consuela also names the MC outright, but City of the Invaders does not mention Katia’s name in the title. So I include Arielle’s identity as the MC in the title (like Consuela) but not her actual name (like Invaders.) I wasn’t sure until the end chapter if this would be the book’s title, but I found it went very well with the book’s ending after all.
Fitting the two girls from the first books into this one in a way that felt believable was one of the big challenges of writing this, but as I worked along towards the conclusion, I did discover that both Katia and Consuela were necessary to represent and portray Arielle’s journey. So I was very pleased about that! When I return to working on the book in a few weeks, I’ll start putting together a street team and that means beta readers. I’m so eager to get some of you reading this book and to hear your thoughts. 😊 Really excited. So stay tuned for that a little while down the road. Meanwhile, I’ve already jumped into a new Palladia story that came into my mind the minute I’d finished typing on Celestine Princess. I’m not yet sure of the length of this story—whether it will be a fourth Palladia book or a short novella/skit to offer as a perma-free download. But I’m working briskly away at it right now.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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