It is no secret I write for my own therapy. Dealing with those experiences that caused me to grow personally, professionally, spiritually, are easier when I do so through the eyes of characters I’ve created.
“Miss Blue Skies” is a mystery, and my new serial fiction story on Kindle Vella. It draws from my years of coaching community princess candidates. (Yes, you read that right; as a social studies teacher, the cliché is true, social studies teachers coach, and I coached princess candidates.)
This mystery is set in the Snake River Valley, in the shadow of the Tetons. It is a breath-takingly beautiful place, and if the winters weren’t so harsh, it might be the place my husband and I retire to, when that day arrives for us. The people who reside there are amazing friendly, so please remember, this story is a work of fiction, and the characters are not based upon those we’ve met during our travels.
This serial also marks my first attempt at putting together the cover art. Using Adobe Express, when I’m used to the functionality of photoshop, was a challenge. Please read–buy tokens and read, so I can afford to purchase the real tool for future projects.
Please enjoy this departure from Maguire/McAllister family; and Ashton’s story will continue while I balance it with my day job as a military education counselor.
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.
When I first began writing for therapy after making the decision to leave a job I loved; a job I where I sacrificed to earn a Master’s degree and teaching certification, then gave all my effort into learning the subjects I taught and trying to provide my students with the skills they needed to be successful in living their own goals and dreams, my project began as a memoir.
A memoir focuses on the experiences in one’s life where we learn something. It is about personal growth. As I wrote about the experiences leading me to abandon my goals and dreams as a high school social studies and English teacher, I found they were too painful to process through, and since I was being met with roadblocks while desperately seeking new employment, those dreams I had for myself faded. I was existing; going through the motions of revising my resume to fit job postings, writing cover letters in an attempt to be the one pulled from the stack of others, hoping that I would have a chance to once again do something productive to contribute to taking care of my family.
It was while I was at my lowest the character of Ashton Grace McAllister materialized from a dream.
Through her eyes, I was able to share the trauma I’d experienced during those last months in the classroom. Slowly, as her backstory took shape, and she began taking control over her own circumstances, I found strength and a sense of purpose as the word count grew.
When it was clear her story was longer than any novel ever written and growing, I discovered Amazon was about to launch a new endeavor: Kindle Vella, serialized stories published one episode at a time. All I needed was a cover image and an account, and I could become a published author.
“The only easy day was yesterday,” is the motto of the Navy SEALs, and my main character Ashton is the daughter of a Navy SEAL veteran. But it could be the motto of a self-published author as well. Putting the story out there for others to share in your character’s experiences is the easy part. Gaining a readership is difficult. I am grateful to those who have welcomed Ashton into their lives.
So what is “An Operator’s Daughter” about?
It is a story about resilience.
Ashton lost her mother when was barely 13 years old, when Gracelynn McAllister decided she couldn’t trust others to follow through on the intelligence she’d put together for a CIA mission. (That mission will be revealed in Parts II through IV of the series.) Because her father must travel frequently in his new career as a security consultant, she lives with her grandparents. The story opens after her grandfather has died from a stroke and her uncle is moving her grandmother into an assisted living facility.
Instead of finding a home for his daughter and him to share when she can no longer live in her grandparent’s home, Ashton’s father moves her across the country to stay with old friends of his and her mother; friends she has never met. Their household is filled with family dysfunction, as is the public high school she now must attend in the middle of her junior year.
This public high school is the same one where I toiled as a teacher for 16 years. Ashton’s first day on campus taking the SAT, was my last day in this building. She is the one who must find a way of triumphing over the situations I fled from for my own mental well-being. And she does!
After writing and publishing “An Operator’s Daughter”, I am much better off. I have a new career I love as a military education counselor. It warms my heart to provide guidance for those looking to improve their outlook on life via higher education as a way to change what they do while serving or preparing for life outside of the service. I even get the opportunity to teach writing skills to Army personnel. Without my Ashton, I would not had the courage to reinvent myself, or to look forward to the years ahead.
While I’m also exploring other characters and storylines for publication on Kindle Vella, Ashton’s life is not something I will abandon. Her “journal entries” documenting her experiences will continue.
This post is inspired by an author’s post in one of the many Kindle Vella groups I frequent on Facebook. This author was lamenting the fact she had few reads of her newly posted serial on Amazon’s Kindle Vella platform. She said she had been told by family and friends she is a “good writer,” and was disappointed that readers had not found her serial.
“Good” is relative. As both an avid reader and writer publishing my serial fiction series on Kindle Vella, I am always amazed at what catches on and what is left relatively alone. Certainly, those authors who were already established on other platforms or had been publishing for several years have the advantage of name recognition. Many brought their readers over to Kindle Vella with them from their other endeavors. But there are some authors, new to publishing on any platform, who are drawing in readers in droves and paying their bills with their craft. (Something I aspire to.)
What sets those authors who are killing it apart from those who are not are a combination of things; chosen genre—and it appears the paranormal sells along with spicy romance, length of episodes—smaller word and token counts appear to be key to keeping the unlocks coming, promotion—some authors put out several ads a day, skill at their craft, and a good dose of luck.
I, too, have been told I am a good writer, and I’ve generated consistent reads for my “An Operator’s Daughter” series since it debuted a year ago in July. I am grateful to those who have unlocked episodes and come to know my characters—from an amazing fan who has posted reviews that touched my heart, to my immediate family, and especially to my fellow Kindle Vella authors for their support.
During the week of October 5th through 11th, 2022, Kindle Vella will allow readers with an Amazon Prime account or those who have made purchases of $50 or more to read from the Kindle Vella platform for free—up to 100 episodes each day! I would be honored if you would spend your time unlocking episodes of my series. The links are below.
The Kindle Vella serial fiction site offers authors an opportunity to publish their stories an episode at a time. It is also an incredibly supportive community of writers and in this post, I want to share three of the Vellas that fit the season best.
Young Adult Category
Kim Riehle’s The Sliders Series
Sabrina, Josh, Emma, and Zack… The accident changed everything. Their world was being torn between two realities with no way to control sliding away from life at home. How could they decide who should live and who would be abandoned to death? The bonds of friendship may not be enough to keep everyone alive.
Imagine entry into a parallel world you didn’t know existed and you cannot control when you’ll be in one realm over another? After an accident, high school friends find themselves caught between their usual present school situation and survival in a feudalistic society. Riehle’s characters draw in to their upended lives and you find yourself sliding into their universe willingly; but will you, and then, immerge unscathed.
If you loved “The Office” or “Office Space” this one is for you!
Hunter Chadwick’s DDD Inc.
Welcome to the Agency! What do they do? That’s the wrong question. What don’t they do? They make sure everything is the way it is supposed to be. Kerry Chase had no idea what he was getting into when he signs a binding NDA and contract with The Agency. Now, is there any way out?
Have you ever wondered just who is monitoring your clicks on a keyboard, tracking your web browsing, or monitoring your online shopping habits? It is all happening, whether you want to consider it or not. DDD Inc. will have you wondering about the lives of those tasked with keeping track of you in this conspiracy thriller.
The town you don’t want to run out of gas in!
Kell Frillman’s Beechwood
A prison disguised as an isolated town hides away the victims of neurological enhancements. The residents have the ability to control and influence the environment around them, but someone far more nefarious than them is in control and he has dark plans for the future. As a sacrificial murder causes the layers of perplexity to unfold, secrets beyond what goes on in The Tower begin to reveal themselves. In Beechwood, everyone has something to hide, and everyone is a suspect.
As a little girl, I remember driving through Southern Utah with my parents and their dark humor related to the downwinders of the nuclear test sites (really nothing to joke about; do they really glow in the dark?) When I began keeping up with Beechwood, these towns immediately came to mind, but Frillman’s take on a place inhabited by those who are the experimenters and experimented upon takes it to a whole new level of psychological thriller. I find myself rooting for those are out to solve the mysterious death that begins the series, and the mysterious sixes, but fear those running the show just may triumph in the end.
The other day, an acquaintance stopped me while I was making a dash to my car to tell me they had been reading my series on Kindle Vella. I thanked her for her support, then allowed her, and myself, to get on our ways home.
I really wanted to say, “Thank you, but I haven’t seen any reads of my episodes for today, or this week.” I can check the tallies of my reads from my cellphone, and actually, do so often.
I wanted to ask, “Who is your favorite character?” or “What has been your favorite plot twist?”
Fear kept me from saying anything of the sort.
Yes, I’m grateful for the support, but please, don’t tell me you are reading when you are not.
As my character, Ashton Grace McAllister Maguire has grown up, she’s become better at advocating for herself. She won’t be victim again, although I do put her into some circumstances where she has to use her smarts and skills to find her way through them. I wish I could follow her lead.
Fear, that feeling that paralyzes us, keeping us from moving forward, keeping us from advocating for ourselves; yes, on this front, I am still a work in progress.
Leave a Reply