The Diaries of Penelope Ember (Episode Three)

When Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt of the Sword & Laser did a video review of my first novel, House of Shadows, a momentary comparison was made to George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones novels in terms of what the author (that be me) was trying to accomplish. That is, was I trying to write a series of novels telling a consecutive story?

First, it should be noted that the Game of Thrones novels (also know collectively as A Song of Fire and Ice) isn’t specifically a series. If Martin ultimately tells his tale in seven novels, it will be more accurately described as a heptalogy (the Harry Potter novels as they currently exist also constitute a heptalogy). That is, a distinct literary effort comprised of seven individual works which tell one story, divided into seven ‘acts’, so to speak.

As I see it, this differs from a series. In a series, while the stories take place in a common universe (typically featuring the same character or characters), the novels in a series are independent. For example, if one tried to read A Storm of Swords without having read the two preceding books, it could be done, but the reader will probably be lost, like watching The Empire Strikes Back without having seen Star Wars. Whereas if one were to read one of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels, such as Proven Guilty, the reader doesn’t miss as much because the essential story begins and ends in the one work. Yes, the experience is accentuated by having read the seven preceding works, but reading those seven is in no way required in order to enjoy number eight.

What I have done is create a universe. Unless otherwise noted, all of my novels take place within that universe. There are mysteries to be solved, and a major conflict taking place. Some of my novels, such as Book One of the Chronicles of Mordant Ember, House of Shadows, will constitute a series of independent works focused on one character, similar to the Dresden Files. Others, such as The Secret Room, will tell more or less complete stories dealing with other characters within that same universe. I’m doing this because I love this kind of fiction, and I don’t see enough of it being done elsewhere, where the reader is being rewarded for their investment in exploring a common universe.

But here’s the thing; when you ask a reader to get involved in this kind of storytelling, he or she will naturally want to know, is this going to be worth my time? How do I know going in whether or not the author is going to give me the reading experience I crave?

That is why I am writing my serial, The Diaries of Penelope Ember, in monthly installments and making it available for free via this website. It tells its own story, and in doing so offers a promise as to what the reader can expect from reading the novels, which also take place within the same universe. I am doing this because what the modern reader lacks more than anything else is not money, but time. Thereby addressing the question, is this particular author’s work worth my time? By making this serial episodic, that becomes a much easier query to answer. Each episode averages around 4000 words, the length of a typical short story. If I catch your attention, you’ll want to continue and read the next episode. If I lose you along the way, that’s on me. But if you like what you see, you will (hopefully) not only want to read subsequent episodes, you’ll want to experience the existing novels as well.

Now, if this is your first time, and you haven’t read any of the preceding episodes, you can click on The Diaries of Penelope Ember in the site menu above, where you will find every current episode available, including the most recent.

For those of you who have already read Episodes One and Two and want to get right to it, here is the third: Episode Three.

I hope you enjoy. And if you do, I also hope you will consider checking out House of Shadows and The Secret Room. Links to both can be found on the opening page of this site, and each is also available to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

And if you’d like to ask any questions, or simply share your thoughts, my email address is