Monopoly Returns!

In my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, I decided to use a game board to reveal some of the clues that would guide Valeria with her task back in the time of the Black Death. It wasn’t a hard choice, no, really there was no decision to make! It would be Monopoly, classic Monopoly. 

I was introduced to Monopoly at a tender age, really not even quite old enough to play it, but I loved it, with all the fake money, little green houses and red hotels, the deed cards with lots of words on them, and… the tokens. “The Token,” was my original working title for “Valeria & The Enemy of Time.” As the book progressed, I realized that I wanted the title to reflect more what the book was about, rather than the mysterious token that appears. So I dropped that title, leaving it only as an artifact on my earlier drafts.

Our babysitter’s son was the older brother we never had. He took us on adventures. I’ll never forget when he took us, three young sisters and a little brother, on a wilderness hike up the flank of the foothills behind our house. I have a snapshot in my brain of us coming back a couple of hours later, trudging up the gravel road, past our place, alongside the pasture. The whole time I can see his mother standing at the end of the road by their house, hands on her hips, with a “spanking implement” of some kind in her hand. Our steps got slower… and slower. She diverted him while we went into the house. He hadn’t gotten permission, apparently.

We played Tom Sawyer, poling around in a flooded cow pasture on a shed door, being warned about water snakes, the “most poisonous kind there are.” I’ll bet he never anticipated what would happen when I saw a potato peeling floating around with some tossed garbage. (Think; kids screaming “water snake!” tipping the raft, pandemonium abounding.) We read his Tarzan comic books, picked off tomato worms and executed them, and helped fill the utility sink with frog eggs, which annoyed his mother. Of course we had a club. And a club house, which was an unused animal shed. We tried to dig a tunnel under the wall, but it was slow going. My sister could barely wriggle through it. It didn’t look like a secret escape tunnel should. But the primary activity of the club was Monopoly.

We played a few times at the kitchen table with other members of his family. That was when I picked my token, the same token I would use every time I ever played the game. The iron. When I was a kid, playing Monopoly was like how a youngster would visit Disneyland without a grown-up leading the tour. Instead of a choreographed plan to take the best advantage of the day, Kids would just walk around riding things and enjoying the experience. If they didn’t know the rules of the park, they would just make some up and go merrily along. That’s how I played the game, buying the properties with the pretty colors, randomly putting houses on and trying to figure how to charge the rent for them. We always did the non-official, oft-played rule of tossing the fines collected into “Free Parking,” to be won by players who landed there. Once, we tried putting everything there, property sales and everything, but the bank ran out of money.  Then the leaders of the club decided the Monopoly set should be stored in the clubhouse, seeing as how playing it was the club’s primary mission. 

One day, the club abandoned its primary mission. The goats got into the clubhouse and ate up all the money.

One of my favorite presents of all time came that Christmas, my own Monopoly game. I still have it, and even though it is worn and the money is soft from age and heavy use, everything is still there, even my old iron. 

Now Available! Valeria & The Enemy of Time

New Book Release! Valeria & The Enemy of Time

I am thrilled to announce that my new book, “Valeria & The Enemy of Time” is now released and available on! 

Valeria was like most of us when we were “t’weens.” Ordinary. Or at least, that’s what she thought. Nothing special. But a tapestry with one possible future was being woven for her, and when the three strangers showed it to her, she had to make a decision. To believe the fantastic tale they told her, to prepare for a journey back through time and thwart the Enemy who was maliciously harming the future? To attempt her quest without knowing more than the smallest hints? Or to dismiss the whole experience as a game, as simply her imagination run amok? Or was the experience  all only a result of concussion from the terrible school bus accident. 

But it was not her imagination. And it was not a game. When events in Earth’s timeline began to change for the worse, Valeria and her best friend, Theo were thrust back in time to the medieval era of The Black Death in Italy, 1349 AD. With the scant clues given them by the three strangers, Valeria began her task of trying to save a little girl’s life, a little girl who was supposed to live so that Earth’s timeline would remain undamaged. 

In the course of their journey, Valeria began to discover her own strength and courage, especially when she found herself alone to go on with the quest. But hard as it was to survive a plague-ridden and primitive world, it was nothing compared to her final showdown with The Enemy of Time!

If you like the convenience and lower cost of the ebook, you can get the Kindle edition. If you are the type who likes to hold an old-fashion paperback in your hand, that is another option! The physical book is a nice, large, comfortable size to hold. It came in at 300 pages, which sounds like a lot! Well, it is a nice long-ish read that you can settle down to for a worthy binge. But what I like is that the size of the print is just a tad larger, to respect the the middle-grade readers. That “easy on the eyes” size can also be helpful for older eyes too, by the way! (Not to be confused with a “large print format.”) Even though I wrote the book with middle-graders in mind, I believe “Valeria & The Enemy of Time” will be enjoyed by all ages, anyone who likes a story about friendship and adventure, with a little bit of history, and a fantasy that could be real. (Who knows? Maybe!)

We have plans to make the eBook version available through other publishers also in the very near future, and when that happens, I’ll make that announcement. 

I’m also looking forward to some possible book release events. I’ll be sure to mention those on my Facebook page, CR Roberts Books.

Please be patient as we continue to fine-tune my website and make all the buttons do what we want them to!

Almost Live! Valeria & The Enemy of Time

Have you ever built your own house? Created your own business? Had your own baby? 

Written and published your own book? 

There are a lot of similarities! 

  • You think it will be done in no time. In fact, it drags on a lot longer than you would have imagined. 
  • When you have gotten a good start, you look around and say, Dang! I’m almost done! Only this and that to do, really. In fact, what you thought was your second and last revision was only your second revision. The revisions to go will first be numbered, and then they will be renamed things like “final” “last” and “the good one,” and then you will create a folder named “old versions,” where they all get dumped. Because, what if you write yourself into a corner and need to chuck it all back to last June’s revision?
  • You think you can do it all by yourself. Once you have decided on the self-publishing route, it all feels like it’s in your own hands. Type it up, throw a cover together, follow step-by-step instructions to make a Kindle book, hit publish and Ta Da! You are an author. But…
  • You have no idea. You will need a lot of people. Unless you are a technical genius, the one person you do not want to make mad is the one who is telling you what programs to load, building your website, going over how to use Scrivener (again) with great (apparent) patience, and getting your trim size and cover to all come together. You need beta readers. It was scary throwing it out to other people to read for the first time. But I was glad I took that step for my next (almost final now!) revision. My monthly Writers Forum Club meetings gave me ideas and contacts. Friends and family encouraged me (or at least humored me). And because I’m self-published, it will take a ton of people helping to share the news about my book and to post reviews, helping ultimately to make this a success.
  • You think your own house/business/baby/book is the best one there is. No, seriously. It is, right?

Writing a novel started as a challenge to myself. Actually, it began further back, as a co-challenge between Mel Newton and myself. “Write an eBook and Make Money Forever,” or at least that is how I remember the title of the book from the podcast “By the Book.” (Or is it “Buy” the Book?”) Two women, Jolenta and Kristen work through different self-help books for two weeks, living by them, and then reporting on the results. For the “Write an eBook…” episode, they worked up a book apiece and then self-published. One was an Amish romance, the other a comparison of the various Greek Gods to the Desperate Housewives. Mel and I both had the same thought. We could totally do this!

We both came up with topics we already knew how to do, thought up pen names, downloaded Scrivener (an excellent program for writers) and gave ourselves thirty days to finish our books. We both squeaked in under the deadline with our manuscripts. (If you are curious about the results, Google Orvetta Black, Dinah Roberts, and Bar Napkin Guides.) At that point I felt thoroughly qualified to begin my next project, my true goal—writing a middle-grade novel!

I have tried to throw together 50,000 word novels in the past, every November, in fact. When the season turns to fall, Halloween is almost over and you can start tearing down the candy corn lights and plan your Christmas decorations, NaNoWriMo shows up on November 1st. National Novel Writers Month. You join up and get 30 days to pound out your 50k novel. It doesn’t have to be worthy, it just has to get written. Words on pages. I usually get about a week and a half in before I lose ground, fall behind and know I’ll never get it done by the 30th. Then I stash what I started in a pathetic file named “NaNoWriMo Starts” and wait until next November. 

Back to my goal. My first goal was to see if I could just start and finish a novel. No standards. Just come up with some characters, give them a job, take them through it, throw a few conflicts in, and wind it up with a conclusion. Don’t waste a good idea on it, because this would just be my practice novel. Once I proved to myself I could do that, then I would do the “real one.” 

But now I have my new saying. Lifted from my technical person, who is also writing a (collaborative) novel.

“I suck at crappy writing.”

Yes, if I were good at crappy writing, I’d have been done a long time ago and happily pounding out my fourth (crappy) novel. But once I own a piece of writing, it becomes personal. I see how it could be better. When someone suggests a way to give more interest, I don’t say, “Nope! It’s just a crappy novel to prove something to myself.” I gotta do the work. I become fond of my characters. Finally, I begin to realize it’s not just a throw-away crappy novel, but pretty nice, and someone else might really enjoy reading it. So I decided put it out there and hope people like it.

That is where I am with “Valeria & the Enemy of Time.” It’s done now, and will be live on Amazon in a day or two, both as eBook and print version. Here is my website so you can get a look at the book. Not all the buttons may be active yet, but they will be soon. I am putting an excerpt up, so be sure to check that out.

Happy Reading!