Welcoming a New Year

Happy New Year’s greetings to you! Please forgive me for not wishing you a Merry Christmas. I didn’t realize that phrase isn’t as common as I thought.

You didn’t know either? Well, I’d like to enlighten you with an event from last week. I found it disturbing. What was it? A fun event for writers.

We are a small group who meet monthly. A librarian guides our writing.

One of our prompts this time seemed easy enough. Take a holiday tradition from your family. Place it in a different historical time period. Then write a story, a poem, a reflection, what have you. As long as we changed to a past time.

After ten minutes, we shared our writing. I hid my disappointment.

The first member wrote of a family moving to California during the gold rush. Once she’d shared, she confessed: she’d forgotten to include Christmas.

Writer two didn’t forget. She deliberately omitted any mention of a holiday. Her caveman and his wife were content to eat berries on this ordinary day.

Our poet, who usually makes me laugh, spoke a group of ladies celebrating the winter solstice and worshiping a Bronze Age goddess. Can you see my frown?

When it was my turn, I let the excitement of the holiday enliven my tone as I read my short story. I’d like to share it with you.

Meanwhile, rejoice in the Lord more as we delve into 2024.

This past month, the book cover design brief has monopolized my time. After sorting through 3,500 Amazon book covers with dragons, I found five that feel like my book. These will inform my designer of what I like.

Which takes us to the next step. For the MiniBuk description on the back cover, a fellow author and I wrestled with words until we settled on this blurb:

Saxon incursions prove invasion looms for Deron, prince of the Britons. He reluctantly accepts counsel from a mysterious enslaved vinedresser, the center of a web of dark rumors.

Despite the pervasive superstition, Deron welcomes her intelligence. But he uncovers her shocking secret. And her dire situation.

Obeying her oracles may steer him to a costly victory. But her curse could drag him to a bitter end.

That’s it. What do you think?

You might have noticed I’m repeating “Winter.” But the three additional seasons wrap up the story in a 12,000-word novella. I think you’ll like it.

And more good news—Jenneth, my cover designer, finishes her art in August. So my next newsletter should be a cover reveal. It’s going to be great.

In the meantime, may you live as long as Melchaiyim, even to the end of the age. 

Anticipating Summer Plans

I was wondering. Do you have plans for the summer? You’ve likely been asked two dozen times. My days will be divided between two things. Mostly. Writing and yarding. Is that a word?

Although the End-of-School-Year craze consumed May, I completed the fourth Oracle of the Vine Dresser story. Almost. Prince Deron insists he needs a more climactic ending. No promises. 

But I’m determined to release the next Minibuk this summer either way. And a second one before November. How? By sending two other stories to the editor for autumn. They’re homework assignments. I resumed my class the Five Year Plan (To Overnight Success)—cheesy, but accurate. Neither story involves dragons. Sad. But they both have creatures who shift. 

As for the yard work, I’ve got good news and bad news. My grape vines did not freeze in April. Thank you for asking. The bad news you’ve probably guessed from the photo. Two yellow jackets nests in one week. I found the first over the weekend. The second, well, it found me the following week. It’s going to be a long summer.

But I want to leave you with this fantastic verse: Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps. (Psalm 148:7) Yes, tanninim in the Hebrew. Meanwhile, may you live as long as Melchaiyim, even to the end of the age.

April Freezes

“If you don’t like the weather, wait a day.” That’s a common saying here in Virginia. Which is why, if you passed my house Easter evening, you would’ve seen a grape arbor transformed into a tent.

We had a freeze warning. Temperatures fluctuate in April. But the 80 degrees in late March confused my vines. They branched out. Rats!

When we had a May freeze in 2020, the tender leaves blackened. A sad sight. I wanted to protect at least one of the four vines from a similar fate.

So, although I pushed past my personal freeze up in the fourth and final Oracle, I didn’t work on the story. Instead, I wrapped an 8’ x 8’ x 7’ gift. To myself.

I had enough blankets and tarps. And burlap. And sheets. And a bolt of bright orange felt I’d forgotten I had. All to protect my smallest and youngest vine. But that’s Virginia.

The freeze happened on a night and a morning when I didn’t have church or school. And that’s God.

This morning all the branches look healthy. Except for the ones I snapped off when a blanket snagged. And the freeze? It spared all four plants. Thankfully, I don’t have 31 like my vinedresser.

I will have her stories—Autumn, Summer, and Spring—out before July. I hope you’ve read her first story, Winter. If you haven’t, it’s available now in my MiniBuk Fire Flight from my website www.deniselajuanpeters.com.

Or, if you’d rather wait, I plan to include the first story with the other three in the second MiniBuk.

Meanwhile, may you live as long as Melchaiyim, even to the end of the age.

Admitting Defeat for an EbookVictory

Admitting defeat brought me to a victory. After three months of wrangling with my website, I asked Stormhill Media to step in and do the work.

Good thing, too. It took an expert 5 hours to rework deniselajuanpeters.com. No wonder I failed.

But even better news. An ebook version of my collection of five short stories is now available for sale from my website. You should be able to purchase it in just about any electronic format: Kindle, Nook, Kobo. Even pdf if you wish.

So for a glimpse of my dragon earth world, take a look. Three stories are contemporary. The fourth takes place in ancient Wales and has captured my fancy. A prequel to my unpublished African tanninim rounds out the set.

I would love to hear your responses to the stories to help direct my writing path. So feel free to comment.

Meanwhile, I will stumble through attempts to sell physical copies from my website. As you wait, may you live as long as Melchaiyim, even to the end of the age.