For many people, summer is independent of all the other seasons, keeping its own schedule and playing by its own rules. So . . . I don’t know . . . is that a good enough excuse for my blogging silence for much of the summer? Hopefully maybe? I helped with a Bible camp for teens and a music day camp for kids (which finished up in August), and in the interim days was preparing for each one, on top of working my normal jobs. I’ve had a marvelous time!

But, confession: I’ve hardly done any serious writing. (Hence Camp NaNo in July was not an option for me.) However, now that life, from this vantage point at least, seems like it will settle into a straight line again, I hope to return to my writing routine. I started a new Marielle story and am tossing around a few other ideas as well.

Music Camp


Choir Practice
A Musical Game
Learning about the Planets and Decorating T-shirts


I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Gustav Holst and his orchestral suite The Planets, but that’s been a bit of an obsession with me lately, as I had the pleasure of introducing kids at the music camp to it since our theme was “Outer Space: The Music of the Spheres.” The Planets is one of my favorite pieces of classical music. Our solar system’s planets fascinate me, so I had a great time discussing both the music and the planets themselves with the kids. If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it! It’s made up of seven unique movements; you’re bound to like at least one of them. My favorites are Jupiter and Neptune; my least favorite is Mars.

I. Mars, the Bringer of War. Holst wrote The Planets during WWI, so this ominous piece reflects the destruction and senselessness of war underneath a triumphant veneer.
II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace. Gentle, melodious tones bring peace and healing, with a sense of sadness for what has passed, but hope for what lies ahead.
III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger. Speedy Mercury is represented by the shortest movement in the suite. The quick, darting theme remind us of a bird.
IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. Jupiter is the “king” of the planets as it’s by far the largest. The music sounds like subjects celebrating their beloved king.
V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age. This sad, wistful piece sounds like an old man remembering the glory days.
VI. Uranus, the Magician. One pictures a pompous magician (dressed in blue?) waving his wand around performing tricks.
VII. Neptune, the Mystic. Deep blue Neptune reminds us of the ocean. The quiet, changeful, siren-like music images an underwater journey.

What have you been doing this summer? On my second note, have you ever listened to Holst’s The Planets?

If you set yearly goals, doesn’t it sometimes seem like it takes all of January to grasp just what they are and where you’d like to go in the year ahead? Several weeks into the new year, I finally feel like I know my writing goals for 2017. 

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Goal number one I’ve actually known for a while now: publish my 1930s Sense and Sensibility retelling, Suit and Suitability. Thankfully, it’s temporarily out of my hands now and in the beta-reader domain! (I appreciate these people so much!) I hope to post a few articles on the 1930s era leading up to my release, and I can’t wait to be able to announce the actual publication date. The whole Vintage Jane Austen series should be debuting in the coming months.

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Goal number two is something I haven’t even hinted at until now. In the midst of editing S&S last year, I desperately needed to exercise different writing muscles now and then: creativity, whimsicality, simplicity . . . and so I pulled up a backburner idea and wrote a fairytale retelling. Have you ever heard of the Grimm Brothers’ “Bremen Town Musicians”? Four old farm animals have outlived their useful years and, with their lives now threatened, leave their homes to be musicians in the fine town of Bremen, Germany. I had so much fun spinning this story I’ve always loved into a short children’s novel. I’m editing it now, and Lord willing if all goes well, it should be published later this year. In a future post I’ll share more!

Ivana Ebel


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Goal number three is to write another Six Cousins novel. The one I’ve begun, however, is focused on Marielle and her mom instead of all the cousins. (Though Reanna has recently informed me, in her quiet manner, that she would love to be included; since she never asks for much, she’ll probably get her way.) It takes place on Prince Edward Island (I made sure to record my P.E.I. impressions while I was there in September!) and should be much shorter than the other two. I’m happy to be writing about Marielle again and exploring how she’s grown, as well as revisiting this beautiful island in my imagination.

So those are my writing goals for 2017 so far! In the coming months, I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about each of them. What are your goals, writing or otherwise, for this year?