I had an epiphany yesterday that the reason my books are having a rough time lately is because they aren’t targeted to the right audience. Fortunately, some of that audience found ME but where do I go to find the rest of them?
Gee, that sounds pretty simple right? Just go out and find people who are interested in fictional historical family sagas. Stories about siblings, love, relationships and struggles. Stories that are along the lines of say: Little Women, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie or any story with unique and interesting characters who each have their own voice. Character driven stories with all of the elements that make up a family; secrets, tall tales, unconditional love and above all, security. Stories that wrap their arms around you and hug you. Stories that although dark and mysterious elements lurk in the background, the family or community stand together against all odds to survive.
In “Hope From the Ocean,” two small boys are left alone to fend for themselves when their Mother dies. Unless their Uncle Dan comes to save them and give them a home, their future is left to the winds of change and most likely not for the better. I wondered if being orphaned and dumped by their grandmother was the worse that could happen to them. Then I thought, emotionally, maybe but physically, absolutely not. Turns out the more I wrote these boys, the more wrong I was. Was any family enough or did it have to be a certain kind of family to heal them? What if they didn’t fit in? What if they didn’t get along with the other children? What if they didn’t want to or didn’t have the ability to connect and relate to them? What would it take to for each of them to find their way? What kind of men would they grow up to be?
In “Fireflies,” a child’s miraculous touch creates a mysterious shroud over a family who at first, want to deny anything unusual is happening. Once they realize they can’t hide it anymore, they provide a protective shield for him. However, he didn’t just wake up one day and start healing people. What set off this chain reaction and how do they make it stop? What will he do next? What will happen to them all if he is discovered? Will it ever stop?
I want to share a few snippets from my reviews since that is where I first started to understand what it was about these stories that people loved. Feedback has been the most valuable food for my growth as writer. It’s not about ego folks; it’s about learning your strengths and weaknesses as well as gaining a more complete understanding of who your readers really are and who “gets” you and what your saying.
“Fireflies touches the heart without being saccharine or overblown in its belief in the boundless power of love. Sacrifice is a matter of family honor and community necessity. No one sets out to be a hero. The Whelans are by and large innocents, in the way the Waltons were. And speaking of classic television, for fans of Highway to Heaven, Touched by an Angel, and Ghost Whisperer [before it went off the rails and become about other things than the unwavering love of the husband and wife despite her abilities] you can’t do any better.”
“This is a captivating story. Somewhere between an Irish ‘Little Women’, “Little House on the Prairie’ and its own story. It has the same rustic appeal, with the story relying on the characters to carry it. And oh do they carry it. Mixed in the the daily life of the Whelan family, is the plot around Ennis. His powers are done pretty subtley, and I wouldn’t call this a paranormal book. I would say it’s more historical slice-of-life, mixed in with a little coming-of-age and a dash of fantasy.”
“Ennis’s powers are a little reminiscent of those of John from ‘The Green Mile’. Even their personalities are a little similar- they’re both very aware of the world, both soft-spoken, they never complain. If you were to be a healer, these would be the ideal components for it, so it’s not surprising that they have similarities.”
“Not often does a book come along that is difficult to say who the target audience is, but Fireflies defies the “age” thing and is perfect for both younger and older readers alike. P. S. Bartlett has built a world that takes you back in time, where the air smells fresher, the sun shines brighter and the innocence of youth is still alive! There is no fast-paced action in this character-driven plot, but each page flows smoothly with characters free of angst and bitterness. There is no physical battle, the battles that are waged are of the heart and the mind, in the ability to just believe and accept. I enjoyed the slower pace and beautiful descriptions, as well as the feeling of love and unity in the Whelan family. This was a relaxing and warm read, perfect for a quiet escape into another world!”