Last Chance to Buy Hidden Pearls!

It’s with some sadness that I am announcing that, starting July 1st, my first novel, Hidden Pearls, will be going out of print. This decision has been a long time coming, but I definitely feel that it is the right choice for now.

Why?

I began writing Hidden Pearls when I was 14, and published it when I was 20. Understandably, I’ve grown a lot as a writer, a researcher, and as a person since then. As I continue to pursue my writing and begin to put more work into marketing and advertising, I want my work to be as professional and polished as it can be. Hidden Pearls never really got the rounds of revisions and editing (especially in regards to historical accuracy) that it needed, and as such, I’m taking it off the market for now.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my dear old story! Constance, Margaret, Meredith, Jack, Edward, and Arthur- they’re all near and dear to my heart. It’s a novel that readers have responded well to, too: I’ve even had a few tell me that Hidden Pearls was their favorite book! One day, I’d LOVE to revisit it, shine it up, and re-release it. However, I’m really not sure when that will happen, which is why I want to give a last-chance notice before I take it off of Amazon.

While this moment is a little bittersweet, thank you so much to all those who have read and loved this story, even in spite of its imperfections! Hopefully, it will not be the last we see of these characters ❤

The Erasure of Anne Elliot

It’s been years since I’ve used my blog to rant on anything, but today I happened to be browsing Youtube the hour that the trailer for the upcoming Persuasion movie dropped. I had my doubts about it already, but, if possible, the trailer was even worse than my fears. It doesn’t even look like an adaptation of the story at all. Parody almost seems more apt.

I could say all the reasons I’m bothered- the gimmicky breaks in the fourth wall and the “subversive-ness” that one article mentioned are just a regurgitation of that awful 1999 Mansfield Park film, and I want to sue whoever’s decision it was to have the word ex’s come out of Anne Elliot’s mouth. (Seriously…I feel like much of the trailer is salvageable except for that)

You see, that’s the real problem that I have: not the historical inaccuracy, or even the over-the-top comedic tone in one of Jane Austen’s least comedic stories. (Really, that would be an entire post itself–while there’s definite humor and satire in Persuasion, it’s also in my opinion one of Austen’s most genuine, romantic, and gentle stories, not one given to a tongue-in-cheek, flippant adaptation. A vibe like this would work much better with Northanger Abbey.)

It’s Anne.

Dakota Johnson’s Anne Elliot is not only beautiful, she’s witty and fun and flirtatious. She smirks. When she gets into scrapes–like spilling gravy over the top of her head–it’s in a disarming, goofy way. She’s not the forgotten, overworked, and neglected character from the book. Book Anne Elliot isn’t Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse; she’s sympathetic and likable, but she’s shyer, more wistful. And she’s still a dang good heroine.

Mentioning Mansfield Park here is all too appropriate, because Fanny Price isn’t your typical strong heroine either. And yet, Fanny is one of Austen’s strongest heroines, as far as morality goes. She refuses to budge when it comes to her convictions, which is made all the braver when you consider her natural meekness. 1999’s Mansfield Park bulldozes over that, turning Fanny into a sarcastic aspiring author with a biting wit who appears more like a fangirl’s imagined version of Austen herself. Netflix’s Persuasion–from the trailer at least–is doing the same with Anne.

What do we have against shy girls? Against girls with fierce, “old-fashioned” moral convictions that aren’t popular? Against girls who say the wrong thing, or can’t think of things to say, or who avoid the men they like (or once did) because it’s awkward? Against the girls who let themselves get pushed around and are too easily persuaded by those around them?

Today, it often appears that the only flaws allowed having as a heroine are the ones that make you too independent, too “much,” too stubborn, too rebellious, or too endearingly klutzy. And of course, over the length of the story we (and the heroine) discover these aren’t even “real” flaws at all. (How can we be too independent? We don’t need any man to save us!)

We all like to think we’re Elizabeth (although it seems her flaws are often ignored in admiration of her). But many of us–I would even argue most of us–are more like Anne, or Fanny, or Catherine, or Marianne. One of Jane Austen’s strengths is that her heroines’ personalities are so different. Completely disregarding the actual personality of a character to create some sort of quirky girl ideal or modern “strong heroine” isn’t just disrespectful to the source material, it’s disheartening to the very women whose personalities and struggles have been disregarded as not being worthy enough to display.

The fact of the matter is, I didn’t always love Persuasion, either. Anne simply wasn’t as exciting as Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse or even Catherine Moreland and Elinor Dashwood. As a teen, it was one of my least favorite Austen novels, and when I read reviews of readers saying they didn’t appreciate the book when they were younger, but do now, I rolled my eyes. That wasn’t going to happen to me, I thought. I would not change my mind so easily. And how wrong I was! Believe me, Anne’s story rings so much realer to me at 28 than it did at 16.

To be honest, the point of this post isn’t about whether this new Anne Elliot is likable or not–it’s that this is just one more instance of needlessly re-writing a story to erase a character whose strengths we don’t appreciate and whose flaws we can’t twist into quirks to emulate.

I have nothing against filmmakers who want to try making a sly, satirical Regency comedy. But I do believe that when you are adapting a novel for the screen, you should try to be as true to the themes and the characters as possible. And that’s not what I’m seeing here.

Will I watch this new Persuasion? I had been planning on it. After all, it’s been some time since we’ve had a PG level period drama offering, and while I think Jane Austen stories are over-adapted, Persuasion is one of the more neglected ones. I had hopes this one would be done right. Having seen the trailer, I doubt it, though I’m willing to be proven wrong. If I do decide to watch it, my expectations are just going to be very, very tempered.

The Jolly Genre Jubilee Tag

It’s been a while since I’ve done a tag, isn’t it? Rachel at Hamlette’s Soliloquy tagged me in this one, and I love the questions. I’m a bit of a genre hopper when it comes to both reading and writing, so it was fun to fill out!

What is your favorite genre of fiction to write? Fairy-tale fantasy is probably my top pick, but I also love writing Regencies, especially when it comes to dialogue.

What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . . EVER. This used to be a much longer list, but now it’s just whittled to down to steamy romance/erotica. I also doubt I’ll ever write any sort of gory horror. Creepy, yes. Gore, no.

What fictional genre feels most like home to you?  When it comes to books, Traditional Regencies are 100% my comfort genre. Which maybe makes it funnier that my “homey” genre for TV is so different: it’s 90s/00s scifi!

If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be? Going to be adventurous for this one and say portal fantasy. I would like to go off on a magical quest but still have the ability to come back home, thank you.

What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment? If anybody has an answer to this question that’s anything BUT contemporary, I would like to meet them.

What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before? I don’t know that it’s a genre that I’m interested in so much as a particular story, but I’ve got a paranormal plot worked up in my brain (one of those genres I never thought I’d write!) and one day I’m going to get around to putting it down on paper.

What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from? A Sleeping Beauty retelling that was inspired by the second half of some versions, which involves ogres. A bunch of little things all fell into place, and now I’m handwriting a Sleeping Beauty fantasy in my spare time, lol

How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey? Six: Historical fiction, fantasy, scifi, paranormal, contemporary, mystery

If you’d like to participate in this tag, here are the questions!

  • What is your favorite genre of fiction to write? 
  • What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . . EVER. 
  • What fictional genre feels most like home to you? 
  • If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be? 
  • What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment? 
  • What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before? 
  • What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from? 
  • How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?

The Book-Buying Ban

Before you ask, The Count of Monte Cristo–I keep wanting to say Monte Crisco like he’s in charge of a a tub of lard–and Dune were Christmas presents and as such have been kept in their plastic until such a time as I am ready to read them.

Do you ever look at something in your life and think, “hmm. I could work on that.”

That was me last November looking at all my unread books and wondering, how many of these do I even have? After going through every single book I own, I made a list of all my unread ones.

The answer is fifty-three.

Fifty-three!

So, being inspired by my dear friend Ness, I decided to tackle this problem with a book-buying ban. I have made the commitment to not buy any books—not even cheap used ones—until I’ve read through every book on the list and I am HOLDING MY SELF TO IT.

I am letting myself check out books from the library on occasion, mainly because I’m a huge mood reader and some of these books that I own are not high on my want-to-read list. I’ve got to reward myself with a fluffy romance after I finally slog through Ten Great Works of Philosophy, after all. (Two months in and I’m only on work number #3. Plato and Aristotle may have been geniuses, but succinct they were not.) But the main point of this whole thing is to stop acquiring books until I’ve read all the ones I have. A shelf purge will also probably occur after this ban is over. So far, it’s 22 books down, 31 more to go. And I’ve still got some real monsters on this list, too, like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Final Empire, aka Mistborn #1.

Despite my complaints, I do have some books on this list that I’m really excited to eventually get to, like Jurassic Park and the small stack of Brandon Sanderson novels, of which my friends seem to either really love or feel really ambivalent about.

I’m also letting myself abandon books, too. So far that’s only happened once but there are one or two more on my shelves (both of which I got for free) that I have a feeling are going to follow suit once I begin them.

Anyone else have monster to-read lists? Or any books they’re looking forward to reading this summer?

March Reflections: 2022 So Far

So….almost five months in and I’ve been settling into my new job. It’s funny, because for as long as I had been pursuing library jobs, I’d never before applied to anything in the children’s department. It’s no coincidence that when I finally did, that ended up being the job I got.  And now, looking back, I realize how worth the wait it was: I’m so much better suited for this position than the others I’d applied for. I get to interact with kids! I get to do crafts! I still feel a bit like a newbie and am making a ton of mistakes (or it least it feels that way) but I also feel really good about where I am and confident this is where God wants me to be right now.

In other news, my sister and brother-in-law bought a new house and it’s a bit of a fixer-upper, so I’ve gotten to go over and help a bit. There’s still a fair amount of work to be done, but I LOVE the layout of their new place, and it’s got a wonderful yard! Plus, all work is rewarded with baby cuddles from my nephew, who is still the cutest child in existence. He’s seven months and crawling now, although he refuses to do so on his knees, and instead bear-crawls with his feet on the floor. It’s hilarious.

Earthbound is coming along a bit slower than I had originally planned. I got a mild case of COVID in January, and it ended up setting me back a little. Additionally, I’ve had several other responsibilities eating away at my time. That being said, I’m still hoping to have book 1 finished by June! I’ve also realized that this story will need more substantial editing than it’s hitherto received. However, posting on Vella has definitely forced me to keep up with the writing, so you can take a peek at chapters 1-12 here. This whole process hasn’t gone quite the way I’d hoped (I really wanted to publish final-edited, gleamingly polished chapters!) but I’m trying to roll with the punches and not stress out about it. On a happier note, back when I first started drafting Earthbound in 2016-17, I had made character moodboards that, during a computer change, got lost. I tried looking for them for years in multiple places….and I just found them on accident recently. So you’ll get a peek at those soon!

Annnd this post has been in my drafts for a week because I couldn’t find a good, pithy way to end it, so I’m just going to stop overthinking and leave it here.

Earthbound is here!

Earthbound has now launched on Kindle Vella! You can read the first three episodes here. (and, since I’m posting each Saturday, this week’s slight delay means you won’t have to wait as long for the next installment: episode four will be available on the 11th!)

I can’t wait for you to meet Daniel, Jo, Cass, Huck and Malachi as they overcome their pasts, flaws, and situations to change the course of human (and alien) history.

You can find it here!

Well….this is embarrassing.

Due to some publishing delays, the first three chapters of Earthbound won’t be available until Monday, rather than Saturday as planned. As a result, the newsletter launch will be delayed until then as well.

Dearly sorry for the inconvenience, but hey: it means that there’s more time to sign up for the newsletter giveaway!

Earthbound- Coming Soon!

It is FINALLY time to share the synopsis for my next story and let me tell you, it is COMING SOON. Like, next week soon. I’ll explain about that in a second. But now, without further ado, Earthbound:

Once, Daniel Blake was a hero.

He was a man who, by a quirk of genetics, had been blessed with all the gifts of a mythical superhero. But that was before the earth was invaded, before his failure sealed the world’s doom, before he was left alone on a desolate planet. He, once the earth’s superman and savior, is now its last and only resident.

Until there is a knock at the door.

Jo Mackenzie has spent her brief sixteen years knowing nothing but slavery—the inheritance of all humans stolen from earth. But she also grew up on stories about a man who dared to fight back. A man, they say, who may still be alive.

And she’s determined to convince him to come back and save humanity once again.

Do you like found family? Awkward grumpy father figures? Ragtag groups of teenage rebels? Corrupt alien governments and scientific conspiracies? Then boy, do I have the story for you 😉

Earthbound will be landing on Kindle Vella December 4th. If you’re not familiar with Vella, it’s a new program that works a little like A03, fanfiction.net, Wattpad, etc. Basically, the story is going to be uploaded in a serialized format for the next several months. The first three chapters will be available–for free!–immediately, and I’ll add a new chapter each week.

(And if that’s not your thing, don’t worry: the story will be split into two books and published more traditionally in early 2023).

So, who’s ready to go take down a corrupt alien government, and maybe pull a heist or two along the way?

My Heart is Filled With…

note: as I was cleaning out my drafts folder, I came across this post from 2019 I wrote but never published. It’s turned out to be pretty timely for 2021 too, as the past few months have been an incredibly emotional time for my family. And yet, funnily enough, just recently my job situation has unexpectedly veered towards the direction I was yearning for so much during the time I was writing this. It’s amazing how two years can change things.

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Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me a lot about thankfulness (and Thanksgiving is coming up , so I suppose it’s apt). I haven’t been in the best place these past couple of months–I’m still looking for a full-time job, without much progress. At the beginning of this year, I focused on the word joy and how I wanted to be particularly attentive to that virtue–especially in today’s world, which seems to thrive on anger. Anger itself isn’t a sin, and it’s an appropriate emotional reaction in many cases. But nowhere in Scripture are we called to cultivate anger, or to constantly dwell on it. And sadly, I see too many people–including Christians–doing this very thing.

Yet, as I was struggling this month, it wasn’t anger that was draining my joy. Instead, it was frustration and worry and even a bit of depression. I’ve generally always been a pretty happy and content person, and so those emotions haven’t only been a challenge on their own, but also because their presence has sort of made me feel like I am losing myself, too. I kept telling myself that I was trusting God, but even though my head was telling me that, my emotions weren’t exactly…cooperating.

Now, being the type of person that I am, when I see a problem, I want to solve it. (Do I see my emotions as a puzzle to be put together and then evaluated to see the bigger picture? Maybe.) I couldn’t fix my job situation any more than I was already trying to, so how could I fix my attitude?

I started reading some sermons on Thankfulness (my church has a table with free books and pamphlets, and that was one of them) and it was just what I needed. I didn’t think I wasn’t be ungrateful, but…well, I wasn’t being grateful, and that was affecting my entire outlook on life. But focusing on the ways God has already taken care of me helps to remind me that he’ll do that now and in the future, too. Maybe that’s why Scripture is filled with God’s people celebrating holidays and erecting monuments to help them remember His faithfulness. Because humans are very, very forgetful. Myself included.

Being thankful isn’t always easy: it’s not simply a platitude that you can say to magically change your outlook on life. It has to be an intentional choice: a purposeful reflection on all of the gifts (and not just the material ones) that I’ve been given.

And no, it’s not easy. I’ve stumbled at least half a dozen times this week alone. But I’m working on it. And what better time of year to reflect on this than Thanksgiving?

A Wild Newsletter Appears!

I’ve been a terrible author.

I know, I know. What does every indie author really need, according to every marketing book out there? A newsletter.

I have been meaning to start one for at least four years now, but now the wait is over!

Yes, I now have a newsletter!

And, there’s a giveaway to accompany it! Everyone who signs up before the first edition goes out on December 4 will be entered in a giveaway to win a paperback set of With Blossoms Gold and January Snow!

You can sign up by either clicking this link or the shiny new button at the top of this page 😀