Ryan and Essie is a children’s story that started with some drafts written when I was quite young. Of course, that original story got a substantial polish by the time I returned to the manuscript about twenty years later. But the idea of two children who are pushed together by a larger world that wants them to team up was what always defined the book, from the childish draft into the finished story that built itself around Ryan and Essie’s incompatibility. At times this space adventure and its world-building of the planet of Caricanus show evidence of a young mind learning to tell a story. But I wouldn’t be the first author to complete an idea that they discovered in early writing years and the two protagonists do have a vividness that tugged me back into finishing their story after putting it aside for so many years.
So for the Five Central Characters that bring focus to this weird, but special little story. Since Ryan and Essie are both critical to the book, I’ve foregone both of them so neither one gets favored. So these FCC characters explore the world that wants these kids to work together so badly.
Prince Alavtar is the son of a king who rules a hidden castle built out of diamonds. It is the only castle in the eastern and middle part of the planet that wasn’t wiped out by an ancient war and it remains a hidden sanctuary. Alavtar is Essie’s first friend in the planet, but he is a sensitive and at times emotional young man who becomes vehement and negative when her unfamiliarity with the planet causes his friend Crissy to die.
Lyssia is a dishonest, backstabbing girl who is going nowhere in her life. She works as a henchman for the villainous King Karpalff who rules most of the southern part of the planet, but she has one gift—she can shape-shift. Befriending Ryan immediately in the deserted caves around the ruined ruby castle, she takes advantage of his ignorance to rope him into Karpalff’s service. It’s only at the end that Ryan learns she’s not even human.
Princess Tarvelas is a brilliantly gifted young lady with wisdom that makes her seem far older. She lives in the emerald castle on the western side of the world and is deeply connected to the spiritual side of the Caricanus universe. They worship a deity called Trisagion and Tarvelas has rare direct access to him. A reclusive and intense person, she accepts death and betrayal from Ryan as she is trying to teach him about the planet, rather than ever let go of her ideals.
Viltan is a drifting scavenger who seems to pride himself on being disloyal to everyone. He comes from the galactic world outside of Caricanus—it’s one of many inhabited planets far from Earth—and assists confused Ryan with tasks from Karpalff. Self-absorbed and ostentatiously distant, Viltan refuses to adopt the thinking of the bickering Caricanan castle-states and shows that by trying to work for them all.
Princess Kalvarina is from the pearl castle. Her home is isolated and remote, locked in an endless war with a northern king who is loosely allied to Karpalff. A young warrior who keeps her feelings to herself, Kalvarina is Tarvelas’s cousin and shares a close bond with her. But her home life leaves her bitter and always hungry for affirmation and certainty, as her mother is unkind to her and favors her brother all the time.
And there will be more updates
In the midst of getting This Merry Summertime published and searchable on Amazon (more stores to follow soon!) I'm participating in a great giveaway for free clean fiction in all genres. As we're heading towards the end of summer, this promotion is called Before Going Back to School All-Genre Clean Giveaway and all of the books have been approved as family-friendly, although not all are children's books. My book is Victoria: A Tale of Spain and you should check this promotion out if you're looking for clean books.
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If any of you have ever walked into a grocery store, a bookstore, or a sells-everything store like Walmart, you’ve seen Disney Princess merchandise. Little coloring books of Cinderella’s adventures, board books about Elsa for just a dollar, backpacks for little girls sporting a smiling image of red-haired Ariel or serene Belle. Rapunzel dolls, Snow White costume dresses, Tiana purses, and hairbrushes featuring all the princesses.
I didn’t actually grow up with these princesses, like so many women who are now my age, and I never knew much about the characters that inspired these toys. I was taken to see The Little Mermaid when it came out and I landed on brief moments of the other movies from time to time, but Disney stuff was really rare in my family because my mom disliked the whole princess thing--with a few exceptions like The Lion King and Fantasia (and a touch of Mary Poppins) because they weren’t princess movies. It was only as an adult that I saw many of the “Princess” movies in full for the first time.
I came to these movies so late that for a long time they all looked very similar. I could barely tell them apart except by the princess’s hair colors. But gradually I noticed two things: they are a broad cultural frame of reference that most people are familiar with; and they don’t necessarily have the same audience they did 10-15 years ago. As time goes on, people come and go from these movies and while the princesses always look the same, those interested in them do not. That could make them quite useful for using the Princesses and their evolution over time to place my books in the bigger picture by comparing them to something that is familiar to many of you.
So here’s a list of the movies that remind me of each book’s personality. You might not find this helpful (it depends on how much you like princesses!), but if not you can just laugh. 😊
And there will be more updates.
This week I’m continuing the monthly In a Nutshell series, in which I explore a few of the five central characters for my books in more detail. Facets of Fantasy was the second of my published books so it's natural to discuss it early on. And since its three component stories complement each other in multiple ways, one character from each story deserves a mention when examining the whole book.
Ferdinand in "Halogen Crossing" has upset the central character Cassie because he killed her parents. It all goes back to an ancient artifact owned by the rulers of Ferdinand’s city. POV matters because we hear things only from either Cassie's viewpoint or her cousin's. The culture stemming from the artifact in the city certainly isn't great and it influenced Ferdinand because the people here were very serious about what they were doing. But Cassie's country, Medosa, is extremely tribal and primitive and the artifact came from there in the first place. The link between Ferdinand and Cassie becomes a deep one and likely to show back up in his life after the story ends.
Lord Andre in "Jurant" is also a bit tricky and he may be shown differently from what he’s really like. This is due to the story being told from the POV of his grandson, Don, who views him in a very angsty way because he blames Lord Andre for a death in his family. All the teenage characters are hard on Lord Andre, but he is at least somewhat misunderstood. Julie was not necessarily perfect even though she died and Lord Andre’s poor relationship with Don is based on bad communication rather than malevolence.
Violet in "The Amulet of Renari" inherits a necklace with special properties and finds there’s a ruined city and an ancient prophecy mixed in. Once she gets stuck with that necklace and it looks like the world is coming to an end, she rises to the challenge. She isn't very friendly and doesn't have a lot of personal interest in the mission entrusted to her. But she thrives on action and communicates quite a bit in her own way, although others think of it as just a buzz of Violet's voice in the background. But in spite of their importance, the people of Renari need her to deal with that artifact while they feud, get lost, and complain. And when it comes to doing that, Violet's quite specialized.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
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When I set about defining my books, I wanted them to be positive places where a gentleness emanated from the pages. A hopeful safety lies in gentleness and there's also an honesty to it. A whirlwind of pushy book blurbs and hot characters (or whatever type character the author wants you to admire) can conceal a reality underneath. A quiet--possibly even lurking--reality that's more visible if you dial down the volume. That lurking reality isn't necessarily bad, but like anything quiet, it gets drowned out by conflict and angst. Peaceful fiction can help explore the truth that noisy books ignore.
Bellevere House has been featured on Ezvid Wiki video "10 Wonderfully Inventive Retellings That Interpret Classic Stories in a New Way." Click to see the video.