I'm a big believer in fresh starts. I see them as a way to revise and recommit yourself to what's important to you. January brings a new year. Monday brings a new week. Chinese New Year. Easter. Beltane. Diwali. Even the first day of the month, a day filled with new submission calls and conference announcements for me, offers an opportunity to try again.
Today is the solstice, the first day of a new season, and don’t we all need it. It seems we’ve been inundated with divisive news in the world, the United States, and even the writers community, a space I once thought fairly safe. The seemingly endless wave of atrocities has made it hard to stay positive lately. I’m depressed. I’m finding it hard to write. I’m not the only one.
Yesterday a friend sent me this amazing, profanity-laden blog post by Chuck Wendig. Being a writer, Chuck focused on the power of words, but if you’re otherwise creatively inclined, simply substitute art, music, dance, theater, etc. to meet your needs. The overall message is the same: When we are surrounded by darkness, creative endeavors can seem pointless. Don’t give up. Your craft is part of you and will be what helps you survive. It may be what helps others endure.
If you are struggling like I was, find hope in the first day of summer. Use it as a fresh start. As the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, today leaves little room for darkness. Let the sunlight burn away all the hate, anger, and fear, leaving us renewed to work toward something nourishing. Let us grow strong and true to resist anything that seeks to divide rather than unify. Use the gift of today to set yourself back on your creative path so you can thrive and use your gifts to help repel the darkness.
In 2016 I joined a small collection of authors who have since dubbed themselves The StoryPenners. It’s an informal group dedicated to producing charity anthologies to fight the darkness in its many incarnations. That first year, we created a book of novellas about couples who got snowed in. We called it MELT, and we continue to send proceeds from the book to a charity supporting mental health research and aid. 2017 brought HAUNT, a collection of nine spooky tales that benefits Chicago-based homeless charities. This year, we focused on the unexpected romance that can happen at summer festivals. We called it SUMMER FAIR, and decided that proceeds will be sent to a charity that supports survivors of rape and domestic violence. We thought it appropriate to have the cover release on the first day of summer.
This stunning cover was created by Aleisha Knight Evans, who has kindly donated her time and effort to design the covers of all three of the StoryPenner anthologies. The book comes out in exactly two months on August 21st. A pre-order link is already up on Amazon. There's a blurb below and you can find more info on my Summer Fair page.
For today, I hope you enjoy the start of the new season. I hope summer's warmth reminds you not to give up. Use your creativity to do some good in the world. I wish you the joy of a fresh start and a fair summer.
SUMMER FAIR Book Blurb:
Summer festivals bring the aroma of popcorn, the excitement of rides, and the promise of real-life enchantment. Seven authors bring you original love stories, each set at a different summer celebration. You’ll experience the thrill of the Chicago World’s fair through the eyes of a plucky girl reporter and the quiet desperation of a teen working a summer job at a traveling carnival. Get whisked away on romantic journeys around the world from a sweet Texas Dewberry Festival to a lantern-filled temple celebration to a surprisingly rowdy New England Founders Day. Whether it’s the magic of a Renaissance Fair, the excitement of a Theater Retreat, or the pulse of a Music Festival, you’re sure to get geared up for all things summer with this delightful new collection.
Riding the Wave by by Annabeth Leong
Amaryllis and New Lace by Gregory L. Norris
Salty and Sweet by R.L. Merrill
Dewberry Kisses by CM Peters
All the World by Marie Piper
Carnie by Sienna Saint-Cyr
The Storyteller’s Side by Harley Easton
With Stars in His Eyes by Arden de Winter
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Harley Easton is a Renaissance woman dabbling in everything life offers. She's worked at a theme park, found expert witnesses, been a guest lecturer at a national museum, and worked with medical students. Putting experience and insanity to good use, she's become an author specializing in erotic, romantic, and speculative fiction.