Friends and Family

Monty and Merlin: Best Buds

The holidays are always busy. It’s a time to reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with. It’s a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate their connection. It’s also a time to reflect upon the people in our lives and to cherish those who are gone.

I’ve never considered myself to be the most social person out there. I’m happy with the people I know and when I meet new friends, I prefer to do so in a smaller setting. Attending a party with a hundred people is a bit overwhelming for me. It’s sort of like walking into the Godiva store to choose a single piece of chocolate. I never figured out the grace some people have of sampling little bits from each conversation and building up lots of small friendships, and letting them grow over time.

I see myself as more of a cultivator. I find a person or two and tend to them carefully, enjoying the laughs and events along the way. It can be tricky for me, then, when the relationship changes. It’s a natural part of life. People date other people, they get married, they have kids, they move, they earn a new job, and so on. I’ve always wondered if there was a “right” way to do things and whether I was missing it.

Relationships change. It’s a fact, regardless of the relationship. Friendships swell and ebb as time goes on. Even those connections between the closest people bend and stretch. It doesn’t mean they come to an end, necessarily, or turn into something sad. Sometimes the frenzied start to a friendship settles into a calmer, more natural flow. Other relationships start slowly and develop into wonderful pairings. Others cycle in and out and in again.

Over time, I’ve realized that I do prefer deeper relationships. I enjoy the connections that I’ve built with those around me. Occasionally, time may pass between gatherings, but we can reconnect to talk about the heavy things in life as needed but also we can lift each other with the joyous happenings or even just throw on a hilarious movie and lose ourselves for a while.

There are people in my life I’d love to see more often, to share more adventures and time, to laugh with and light up the night. We all get busy, so it isn’t always possible. Some days, we’re simply just too weary. It doesn’t mean the relationships are faltering. Life sometimes takes its toll. Plus, we all need some alone time too here and there.

As we look ahead to 2016, I am thinking about all the positives in my life and working to give them priority. It is important to also acknowledge the negatives and strive to minimize them, but I don’t want next year to be all about avoidance or reduction. No, I want to look to the brighter azure sky, the gleaming golden sun, and the brilliant white clouds of any shape imaginable. I want to revel in the beauty of the world around me and I want to do so with the people I cherish most.

It feels like a subtle thing, thinking of it this way. There are people who bring me down or who get stuck in my thoughts in an unhelpful way. Rather than dwell on those, I need to shift and direct my energies toward growth instead. Flowers don’t stomp around in the dirt; they reach up toward the light, opening wide and revealing their own inner colors. 

I want to deepen the relationships I have now. I also want to meet some new friends. Life gets serious enough when things just go wrong. So the rest of the time, I want to relax and laugh and enjoy the moment. I may need to adjust how I see relationships in order to have that freer sense. I need to allow for others to be busy and not fear losing them. I need to remember that we are on this journey together and where the road goes, there are many things to see along the way. Some may venture down different paths, and that is okay too.

This doesn’t mean I won’t still work at cultivating my relationships. But maybe sometimes they need to grow on their own a little too. It’s a different concept for me, because I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t ever-present then everything would wither away. Friends and family may have come to know me this way and so a change in how I behave may be startling and confusing. But in order to grow I need to spend a little more time in the sunlight without my fingers always fussing with the soil. 

It’s time for me to grow a bit too.

Reviews!

The greatest moment for an author like me is knowing that people are reading and enjoying my work. Some readers have told me directly what they liked and what didn’t work for them. It’s truly helpful feedback, both the good and the critical, and I learn and grow from all your words.

Journeys in Kallisor has been out for just two months but it feels so much longer than that! I’ve shared this world I’ve created and I have enjoyed the experience deeply. I look forward to getting book two into your hands early in 2016. It’s my goal!

For this holiday season of giving, I would like to ask every reader of any book a special favor: Go and give an author a review. Whatever genre you’re reading, once you’ve hit the end of the story, please consider finding the author’s review page and post a review there. And it is okay to be honest. It really is. We grow from the feedback we receive. 

One of my reviewers made my day with the statement that, “[If] you’re a fan of classic role-playing games, this book and your imagination will provide hours of entertainment to combat the forces of boredom in a mundane world.” That’s exactly the feel I was going for, so I’m thrilled to have nailed it. And this same reviewer added, “The story uses the difficult-to-use-well omniscient POV and the head jumping occurs so rapidly at times that it becomes confusing.” It is a critical point that I have taken to heart as I work on the edits for the rest of the series. 

Another reviewer felt the “names of the places and the people seemed confusing at first,” and I can understand that too. It’s a new world with a bit of information and people to meet right off the bat and it takes time to adjust to new settings. Hopefully as I move ahead I can keep the transition from reality to fantasy smoother. This reviewer added, “A loose comparison for Journeys in Kallisor would be a combination of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.” That filled me with a sense of awe at the comparison! Also, “[The author] uses each character’s strengths to the advantage of the group and uses their weaknesses to show how each learn and grow.” That was certainly my goal, and I’m glad I managed to succeed there.

All these comments mean the world to me because the readers took the time to share their thoughts with me and with the world. Please consider doing the same for whichever book is currently on your nightstand. 

Your words help to inspire our worlds. 

My goals for 2016 include completing edits for Red Jade and getting the other three books in the series out by the ends of winter, spring, and summer. I also plan on following my own request by posting reviews for books I read on Amazon, Goodreads, and any other author site I can. More than that, I hope to honor and cherish all the people around me with even more positivity and support.

So now that you’ve read all this, which book are you heading off to review now? Trust me, it will make the author’s day!

Red Jade Cover Reveals

The holiday season is upon us and the world is aglow with light and smiles everywhere. People are bustling about in stores buying gifts and food, and the anticipation of merriment is everywhere.

While this is going on, I have also been working with Fyodor Ananiev on the cover designs of Red Jade books 2, 3, and 4. As a refresher, let’s take a look at the cover of book one, Journeys in Kallisor. For added fun, let’s just focus on the artwork. I’ve removed all the text and overlays for now…

Red Jade: Book 1: Journeys in Kallisor

 

The other books are already written. I am still processing the edits from my editor, Rochelle Deans. It is my goal to have book two ready in early winter 2016. The title is The Shattered Shards and it continues the quest of Gabrion, Dariak, and Kitalla, as well as a few new companions. 

Red Jade: Book 2: The Shattered Shards

 

While questing for the shards of the Red Jade in Hathrenier, the group itself is shattered by numerous events. The structure of book three cycles among the characters as their quest continues. Book three, The Assembly, is anticipated for a spring 2016 release.

Red Jade: Book 3: The Assembly

 

At long last, the journey must come to an end. The Red Jade saga ends with book 4, The Forgotten Tribe.

Red Jade: Book 4: The Forgotten Tribe

 

As you can see, Fyodor has done exquisite work once again. I had intended to share only book two’s cover tonight, but in my excitement, I decided I had to share them all with you. I hope you enjoy the artwork and I look forward to reading your reviews on Amazon as you get to read each installment over the coming year.

Have a great night!