A Book That Stands Alone
Ryan and Essie, chronologically, was published between Victoria: A Tale of Spain and The Test of Devotion. And ordinarily I group the books in pairs based on when they were published. The two story collections; the first two Palladia Series books; and the two novels about American 20th-century life are all natural fits for each other and it also happens they were published in adjacent years.
But Ryan and Essie doesn’t match the feel of either Victoria or Devotion. In fact, it’s incompatible as a mystical fantasy story set in deep space. These two books, meanwhile, have much in common with each other and were published very close together. So I’ve paired them as a couple and moved Ryan and Essie farther down in the list towards more recent books in spite of its technical time of publication. This is because it’s now the only one that doesn’t have a partner. (You have 9 books and you’re working in pairs of two, this is bound to happen! 😊) A new book will probably have a lot of compatibility with Ryan and Essie, especially if it’s a fantasy story.
I’ve found it logical to work with the books in pairs because books written very close together usually have the same emotions from readers. It's certainly possible for characters to be part of little cross-connections throughout my books, but audiences tend to feel similarly about books written close in pairs. So usually I write two books that explore a set of related ideas and then move on to another pair of books. But over time I’ve noticed that Ryan and Essie has stood outside of any conversations about my other books. This makes sense if another book is needed to make a pairing--I've only explored half of the ideas around this story, so it's a bit out of context. So why was Ryan and Essie published when it was if it had nothing to do with stories published at that time?
Well, this is really one of my oldest books. I started working with the ideas when I was still a juvenile. And perhaps whatever book eventually pairs with it will also have been a hidden part of my writing world for a very long time.
And there will be more updates.
Bubble, Bubble, Goes the Idea Fountain
Right now I'm part of an all-genre sales bundle for April. All books are $2.99 or less. The sale even includes non-fiction and it's a grab bag of interesting books that might not appear in other, more specialized genre promotions. There are many gems in here, including more cross-genre or unusual books. It’s a very entertaining bundle! My book is Consuela and it is priced at $1.99. There's no pressure to buy (although all the authors would love it if you did) and it’s a great way to find samples of the books on retailers, and scout out authors you'd like to bookmark or follow. Follow this link!
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My next book will be an anthology of shorts—a couple of funny fairy-tale stories, some screenplays satirizing popular entertainment, and an adventure novella about homeschooled kids, called “Movies at the Beach,” which never made it into any other publication. All but one of these have not been published before, though a few were linked as files in blog posts years ago and circulated among friends. (My blog was a very informal affair back then!) The little pieces are roughly middle-grade or younger YA, and just good clean fun. I would think if I was very fortunate they might remind you of the mixture of zany humor and strong emotion in L.M Montgomery’s Chronicles of Avonlea.
After this book, I have three ideas for the future. I'm just not yet settled on the publicaton order. The first is another historical project, this time set in Scotland. When I found all the stuff I’m putting in the upcoming anthology. I also realized I had many uncompleted, rather crunchy story bits drifting around in manuscript form. These little drafts never went anywhere because they lacked a final element. Something about them just wasn’t coming together. But the Scottish setting (which is a really neat one to work with) gives them the missing piece, which is a strong location in which to place the new story that is exploding on a sudden tangent out of those old scattered bits.
I’ve been up in the air about whether to do a third Palladia book. (To turn City of the Invaders and Consuela into a trilogy.) These two stories were written very close together—6 to 7 years ago. A third book would be written years after the others and my life and audience have changed so much this book might not have consistency. However, the main pro for the idea is that trilogies have a finality that two stories just don’t provide AND that authors do sometimes work on a book in their series much later. These books usually have a different “feeling” to them, but that’s not necessarily bad. So we’ll see.
The third idea is for a Christian fantasy book, for adults. I’ve tried the “Christian” genre label with some of my books before, but they are now happily settling into other genres. One of the reasons several of them lost this label is that they were for young audiences. Many readers of the Christian genre want to read about flawed characters and spiritual themes in books for adults. Writing this genre or reading it does not make you more or less Christian. Many Christians prefer mainstream fiction and those who write Christian fiction want it to be meaningful to non-Christians too. It’s about a particular type of story. And I’ve always wanted to broaden and find the characters in that story.
And there will be more updates.
Day by Day
Because of COVID-19, my trips to town are rare these days. I go mostly to buy a few groceries, especially produce, and the stores are usually out of EGGS and always out of TOILET PAPER. So far the virus has stayed away from my family, but with an outbreak nearby our movements have become very limited. Coronavirus news from close to home and around the world draws my attention each day and I wonder how life could have changed so fast. A few weeks ago I was in the library on a routine visit and now . . . it's closed.
But while an emergency requires upheaval, another essential part of human life is a sense of normal. Of things that remain in place no matter what. Steady rocks that provide anchors. Whether it’s just watching a favorite movie, finding encouraging prayers and verses online, walking or snuggling pets—anything—doing these things reminds me of a world without COVID-19. It provides perspective. I can remember what things were like before and what they will one day be like again. Even if there are permanent changes, things WILL become a little more normal eventually.
Routines are precious because they link us in a crisis situation to what we were like in an ordinary time before. It keeps us from losing our identity. All over the world, people are trying to keep a sense of normal in the midst of this situation--even doctors and nurses, although their lives are anything but normal right now. Sending these posts to you helps me maintain a bit of my life the way it used to be because I've written and blogged for many years. I trust in each of your lives you are also finding hope in the things that have survived around you. The things you’re still able to do.
And hope is what’s always really out there, if we know how to find it.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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