As a pattern designer, every collection started with “knowing my girl” – who was going to fall in love with the pattern? What products would they be interested in? I take the same approach to write my books. I know my girl…Arienne, Caly, Cleo, and all of the other strong women I create as the imperfect heroines of my stories. For this post, I wanted to give you a glimpse of Calypso Mendelsohn, my Salem, MA psychic. Since I have a visual arts background, I thought it might be fun to give you images this time – as well as a few quotes – as if Caly had taken over my blog!
This is one of the things I love most about being a writer: I get to have adventures from the warm comfort of my office, and Theo gets to go everywhere with me. Today is a little cold (there’s a good amount of frost on the leaves) and I have a billion things that I should be doing as a productive adult. Instead, I’m heading off to scout locations for Ari’s next adventure.
After I’m done scouting the Bazaars of Turkey and Iran, I might swing by a party that Caly should be attending in the Southie neighborhood of Boston. I had dinner last night with Darius, the great Persian King, and I visited with a few art forgers in my living room. It’s amazing what I can find out on my smart TV.
As I look out over my backyard this morning, I know that forsaking my weekly chores for research is the right decision. I’m back at my day job in this post-covid world (it’s not really post-covid, yet…but I’m an optimist) and I just want to escape from that pressure cooker on the weekend and do something enjoyable. Not that my job doesn’t have enjoyable moments, but there’s very little magic happening, and witty banter is kept to a minimum because my colleagues and I are all so busy.
I have a sense of time pressure, though. Construction on Theo’s fence began this week and my mind is starting to drift to garden plans and plant propagation. When the impending snow melts and the first flush of spring arrives, I’ll be outside creating my oasis. It’s been a twenty-year dream of mine, and I’m finally going to make it happen. I’ll even have a blog about it in case you’re interested (after all, I am a writer and artist…so blogging is just second nature and it keeps my writing muscles flexed).
So I must get back to the bazaar! Time is ticking and I need to tell you all about what’s happening for Ari and Caly before it’s time to start working in the garden!
I’ve been super busy writing and I wanted to let you know what’s coming up in the near future.
New Content for my VIP list! I have a new short that’s coming out soon. In Resistant Magic, Kai mentions a character you haven’t heard of: Simon Jampa. My VIP list members will get to read all about him in Simon’s Lake.
Since my VIP list has already received two short stories from me, I’m bundling them with a third short into a little box set of stories that take place outside of the series timeline. In the new box set, I’ve included Hedgehog Tea – a short story that I wrote several years ago for the “A Cup of Christmas” Collection. It’s a cute little story about Salem, MA and some of the interesting characters in that town. Oh, and Calypso Mendelsohn has a walk-on scene.
Speaking of Calypso (Caly) – her new adventure is coming out this fall. This time she’s in over her head because she’s settling into her new life. Trouble finds Caly – usually by walking into her booth at Foretold and presenting her with an opportunity to use those less savory skills! It’s still just too much to resist for my favorite psychic (outside of Nan, that is).
For Ari’s fans – don’t worry – the next adventure is in the works. A few of you have mentioned wondering how the new characters will adjust to the modern world so I’ve given you the answer (and a whole new mystery) in Ancient Magic. This is EXACTLY why those reviews and comments are so important to me as an Indie Author.
UPDATE: The new short story my VIP list just got is actually about the Gnomes because Simon’s story is developing into a novella!
It doesn’t usually happen this fast for me – and perhaps I’m crowing about a fleeting moment of success – but it’s a big deal for me, especially this week.
I’ve been unmotivated, stressed, and generally frustrated by my inability to get into my office and produce something good – something that would make me keep writing the next installment in the Relic Hunter series so I can publish it sooner rather than later. All week I’ve struggled because the last paragraph I wrote last weekend just didn’t seem to have a direction. I spent the rest of the week obsessing over the fact that I had no plan, no vision, and I began to worry that perhaps I’d never write another book as good as the last one!
So today (out of desperation) I went searching for the relic that would become part of the basis for the new book. Within an hour I could see the whole book unfolding. The threads were clear – I had a relic, and I had a plan. The minute it all slid into place, I sat back and realized the angst of this past week was due to a lack of trust in my process as a writer. Part of that process is NOT WRITING.
Yes, that is what I meant. Writing daily and powering through scenes that are going nowhere might work for some authors but it does not work for me – EVER. When I get stuck I need to walk away, completely abandon the project and do other things for a while until I have a moment when clarity descends as if from heaven and I’m back at the computer again, writing furiously to get all of the ideas out before they evaporate again – because that’s a different part of the process, aparently.
When I’m not writing I’m creating the covers for stories I intend to write someday. I’m creating blog images, facebook posts, instagram puzzles – anything that’s NOT writing – but a million things related to my writing. That’s how I work. Abandonment isn’t ever total with me, it’s just that I move on to another aspect of being an author. And it’s okay that my method isn’t everyone else’s method for getting the next book done. The point is, that’s what works for me, and I need to trust that if I give it enough time I will have the epiphany that will make it all come together.
I think the rest of life needs the same philosophy. How many times have you struggled and worried to make something happen only to walk away and have it land in your lap? I’m not saying give up the struggle – I’m saying give up trying to force it to happen on your timeline. Act intentionally, lay the groundwork, and situation will develop when it’s right – without all of the angst and suffering you usually endure.
So go sit on the couch, crack open a new book (preferably one of mine), and breathe. The answers are coming, but the universe, the muses, and miracles don’t work on your schedule but when it’s time for them to arrive, they do.
Stay sane, stay safe, and go binge watch the Indiana Jones movies.
I’m so excited to have finished the 5th book in the Relic Hunter Series – the paperback is available now and the ebook is coming in a few days. Prime Day on Amazon really messed up my release because I don’t want to drop the book and have it swallowed up in all the commotion of Prime Day! I’m looking at June 25th as my release date for the ebook – it’s one of my favorite numbers.
I’m pretty sentimental about Resistant Magic because it marks a bit of a turning point in my journey as a writer. I wrote my first book way back in 2012 – it took me about 3 years to write it and I agonized over every single sentence. That was a great learning experience, but I wasn’t sure back then how far I’d go with my writing.
I remember adding up my book sales that year and realizing I’d earned a little over $300 for that book. That was exciting enough that I wrote Destructive Magic, then Unplanned Magic, and a few books in other series that I will be returning to. That’s when life derailed a bit – right as I was finishing up Legendary Magic – so there was a long pause in my writing. The pandemic of 2020 started me back up and I pushed through Jealous Magic and really started taking this writing thing seriously.
I took it so seriously that I’m being published for the first time since I won a poetry contest in 3rd grade. I have a short piece in Louisiana Literature this summer, and that should be out right after I publish Resistant Magic. In fact, I’m also half way done with Fortunes Give & Take – the second book in the Fortunes Series. That will be out this fall, then I’ll return to Ari and the gang.
Writing has often been my salvation – my imagination has gotten me through the normal down times every life offers and it has shown me a clear path forward. I am happiest in my office overlooking my garden, creating new adventures for my characters and connecting with my fans (I stumble to write that because it seems so surreal that THOUSANDS of people have read my work now…and my reviews bring tears to my eyes).
More than a decade ago, I set out to write fun fantasy fiction incorporating my love of history and mythology with a clear intention to entertain and provide a fun escape to my readers. When I think back to how far I’ve come, I am humbled and grateful that I have had the support to accomplish these goals. So as I wrap up one career (the infamous day job) and move toward transitioning to my new career as an author, I want to remind all of you that it’s not too late.
That one small action so many years ago began this journey. I hope you find the courage to take one tiny step on your own fantastic adventure.
Welcome! I’m so glad you’re curious about the history behind my fun fantasy books. This time, we’re off to Rome – with a few side jaunts into the Achaemenid, Byzantine, and Macedonian Empires.
For information on jinn – I found so many sites, but my interpretations are totally from my imagination. Just in case you want some jinn info, here’s a cool link.
So the worst thing I could imagine happened this week: My latest release was missing a few chapters.
Imagine my horror when I opened my email at 6:00 a.m. and read a message from a reader who VERY KINDLY AND GENEROUSLY alerted me to the problem.
I was horrified! I flipped over to Amazon and looked at the book, hoping there had been a mistake and NOPE – there were really missing chapters. ***Insert the screaming and cursing scene here ***
So like a LUNATIC, I formatted and uploaded another version. That one was complete, but I couldn’t remember if I had made all of the edits on that version and I had only 1 hour before I had to be at work – but I just wanted to stop the bleeding and I knew the version I used as the replacement was nearly perfect because I speed-read through it!
I have NO CLUE how it happened in the first place.
What makes it more confusing is it only happened to some readers!
I have been getting steady reviews on that book, and the chapters that were missing were REALLY IMPORTANT to the storyline – so I’m sure other readers wouldn’t have given me 5 stars if they were missing say…the most important scenes in the book. (BTW, they were also some of my favorite scenes) This is a real head-scratcher for me, because I downloaded it from Amazon when I first published it and just finished re-reading it on my own Kindle – and that version was complete so how and when did it get replaced (because it definitely did)?
I will never solve this mystery but I did go back through the complete version and re-checked every single edit, every chapter, and did it TWICE after I uploaded it again. So I’m sure the complete book is there. I am forever grateful to the readers who emailed me about the error because I would have never known!
I am horribly embarrassed because as an Indie, I feel a certain pressure to be even more vigilant about the quality of my work. I apologize wholeheartedly to anyone who read the version with the missing chapters. I’m horrified (still) and paranoid (more) that something like this could happen again.
I did learn one important thing: those of you who read my books really do care because you took the time to let me know about the problem. I will be forever grateful for that. The missing chapter fiasco ruined my day, but the loyalty and generosity of my readers really made it better. Thank you.
If you’re not on the list you can’t read about the magical mission in the Mojave that Ari and Kai just went on!
I received a comment from a visitor named Wesley asking me if I had thought of writing a story that uses traditional fairy lore.
Yes, I was actually on that path with my latest release Jealous Magic. I have a Fae princess and I deal pretty extensively with King Arthur, Merlin, and the knights of the round table in both Legendary Magic and Jealous Magic.
Wesley goes on to share his knowledge of the connections between fairies, demons, fallen angels, and ghosts and really makes some new points that I wasn’t aware of. I love folklore and legends and those two things are always incorporated into my stories.
Culturally, there are differences between the old gods of many religions – but there are also some similarities between the stories that always capture my imagination. In Legendary Magic, I use the Roman conquest of the Celts to draw the different myths together because the Romans – for all their domination and annexation of other lands – were brilliant at syncretism. They folded the gods of other cultures into the Roman pantheon, leaving behind a merged mythology that’s a beautiful blend of all of the cultures in the Roman Empire.
I am working on my 5th book in the series right now, and I am using the same methods to tie Arienne’s Italian heritage into the story. The fae exist through many cultures, and I love finding those similarities and the connections that speak of the blending of cultures that happened millennia ago. I use those bits of information to weave a more global story that reflects our modern age.
This is not to say that my fantasy novels are scholarly works on mythology! It’s good, fun fantasy that I hope inspires the curiosity of my readers to dig deeper into folklore and mythology. I know I will be doing in the near future as I complete the 5th book and then circle back around to Princess Tyballa Nessinger and her ambitious goal of curing Dr. Ezra Froelich of his fading memory. There’s a connection to Merlin in that story, but I need the time to write it! At this moment, time is in short supply but there are so many stories that I want to tell that I get frustrated that I can’t write for twenty hours per day.
So stay tuned, and please contact me with your questions or to share your knowledge. I read all of those contacts and I enjoy that give and take with my readers.
Shameless plug: If you like my work and would like to hear more about what I’m up to, sign up for my V.I.P. list. You can find it on my homepage. I’m not “spammy” and you can unsubscribe any time – but I will be including some of my wild connections between the myths and legends in my upcoming newsletters (and you won’t get those if you’re not on the list!).
Thank you, Wesley for your insightful comment.