Edmund Bertram was not the reason I did Mansfield Park. I'd never quite liked him--although I didn't care much and that was a good thing. I actually took Mansfield because its characters annoyed me the least. I preferred some of Austen's other novels as overall stories, but each of them had at least one major character that irritated me to pieces. Writing about those characters would be a problem, so I bypassed those books. Only two of them were options, but I would also have skipped the other three if they had been on the table. Edmund was the one character I didn't completely like in Mansfield Park, but he didn't drive me crazy.
The tricky thing was that he was a primary male character, so I couldn't minimize him. I planned for him to be an obligatory reference at first and early on I wrote more of a trite romance between Ed and Fanny (Faye) than currently appears in Bellevere because I felt he wasn't good for much else. But he sprang up large because he has a quite real, unexpected entertainment factor. In fact, his faults are what I began to enjoy about him. He doesn't have to be perfect or anywhere close to that in order to be a good character. He just has to be real--something that applies to Bellevere House as a whole. Its characters aren't whitewashed role models or even entirely rational, but from being a skeptic who had always had Austen in my face (not that I hated her, but my friends and family were way bigger fans) I've grown into loving her work. Bellevere is now my personal favorite of my books for plot and storyline. Not for characters, because that's Victoria: A Tale of Spain. But for narrative and that of course means I've put it above any of my own creative plots. To paraphrase John Dryden "I hope that in wrecking Jane Austen I have created an above-average self-published novel."
When I was evaluating my books, I began to reconsider Bellevere and Ed. Though he's unattractive at times, his absolute foolishness keeps him from being a boring character. He might even be funny as he drifts around trying to up his market value by being rude to the woman he actually likes and flirting with someone else. After all, what I've always tried to avoid was writing a boring book, not a bad one. And, thanks to Austen's vivid story arcs, this one will be worth reading no matter what I do with it. My first blurbs for the book, which feel almost cute since they were so long ago, said Ed was the one Faye would never admit she was in love with. I've discovered it's the opposite. Faye is the one Ed will never admit he's in love with. But since he is actually quite fond of her, it makes sense that he now spends most of the last chapter apologizing to her.😊
And there will be more updates.
Ryan and Essie’s plot involves a twist where the two children turn out to have parallel siblings living on the planet Caricanus. Ryan’s parallel sibling is a twin sister named Rianna and Essie’s is a brother who’s two years older than she is, named Ethan. The initial way the story was written had Ethan also being Essie’s twin, but by the time the story was finished it had changed to being a brother only. Maybe two sets of twins running around on this planet just felt like overkill or maybe it was some other reason. Anyway, Ethan looks very similar to his sister and fills the exact same role in the story as Ryan’s twin sister does.
Caricanus is like a mirror world to ours where these kids go to learn about some of the relationships in their lives. So two characters to look at are ones who are closely involved with the twins plot—Viltan and Kalvarina. They are the only two characters who really seem to know Ethan and Rianna before the secret of their identities as related to Ryan and Essie is revealed.
Viltan is someone we don’t know a lot about. He seems to be in his late teens, but could easily be older and just look young because he is not fully human. He is part Kinari, a race that appears in Facets of Fantasy’s story “Jurant,” so he has weird purple eyes. This purple color reflects a lot of his inner ambivalence since it is a blend of two opposing colors, red and blue. Because half-Kinari are rare, Viltan never fit in anywhere and ended up on Caricanus. While he’s not loyal or admirable, to the extent we get to know him through Ryan’s POV, Viltan is close friends with Ethan. He knows that Ethan is human (a secret at the time) though he does not know the significance of this, and he always protects Ethan’s identity.
Kalvarina is the princess of the last castle that the kids visit in the story. Because there is a battle happening and Essie ends up destroying the castle through a mistake, we don’t see much of this castle compared to the lengthy time spent in some of the others. It is in a cold climate and the people there have a harsh warrior culture. Rianna lives alone a little to the north of the castle, in an observatory where she watches the stars. This mirrors her brother Ryan, who is in an observatory when Essie first meets him. Rianna mostly tames Vlagtaffs, a mysterious bird race, and keeps to herself, but Kalvarina seems to know where she lives and comes to ask for her help. She’s the only person shown aware of Rianna’s existence before the end of the book, though it’s possible Kalvarina’s parents might have known.
And there will be more updates.
This Merry Summertime is now available for sale on several retailers besides Amazon. It joins the nine other books already distributed via Draft2Digital. You can find it listed at B&N, iBooks, Kobo, and more. Click this link to see eleven stores where the book can be found. It will actually be available in more, but some of them have longer publishing times or they don't have easily accessible links because you have to plug into their system to view content.
Library distributors like Overdrive and Bibliotheca are among the outlets that take an additional week or two to publish content, so I'll notify you when MerrySummer hits library ebook shelves. Meanwhile, all of my other books have been library-accessible for over a year. Reading ebooks at the library is really easy. You can check them out just like regular books except you read them on your phone. You return them by clicking a button—or they will return into the system automatically when their time is up. Audiobooks are also available to check out through library systems, if you like audiobooks, along with loads of ebooks. My library uses the Bibliotheca system—many others use Overdrive or a different system. Bibliotheca doesn’t have a browsable website of titles (that I could find anyway), but if your library uses Bibliotheca just log into its app with your library card.
Having my books available in library systems doesn’t mean you can automatically borrow them. The library has to purchase them first. But they are available for the library to buy because I’ve listed them in some of the sites that libraries use to buy books. If you’d like to check out one of my ebooks through the library, you can search for it using your library ebook app and then hit a button that requests for the library to buy it. There’s not a guarantee it will be bought, but libraries often fulfill requests from their patrons, and then you and others can enjoy the book for free through the library.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
Join the weekly newsletter and get This Merry Summertime: An Anthology Celebrating Family, Fantasy, and Young Women (short stories, comedy) as a signup gift! Click the book image below to get started! + Get a free sampler of first chapters from 9 other books in the welcome email.
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.