The Birthday Present and the (at that time) accompanying Millhaven Castle weren’t published to tell similar stories. In fact, I meant them to contrast. So when I set about smoothing awkwardnesses between my differing versions of the Alyce world, I substituted a sample from The Prince’s Ball for that Millhaven Castle story. But that didn’t change the idea of contrast. The Prince’s Ball is not related to TBP and doesn’t have a similar point. That was part of the book’s structure.
The Birthday Present is about taking physical situations in this life too seriously. The humans, now represented by Lucy and a tiny group hiding in a mountain, accuse the more advanced GMFs of being materialistic and soulless. The GMF society values strength and physical power over emotional development, and ironically the GMFs are a bit inferior even though they can live for hundreds of years.
However, as Lucy reveals, it was really the humans who are obsessed with these things. In the past they didn’t think there was much outside this life. What was physical was absolutely important--and since humans age and are weak and clumsy, it was awkward to emphasize the body so much. And they still don’t seem to think there is much outside the body and human relationships. This is not shown as part of Lucy's worldview at any time, in spite of her constant discussion of emotions.
There’s a lot of rhetoric about the GMFs needing to turn back into more emotional, more sensitive humans, but the GMFs we see don’t seem particularly shallow. The humans appear just honestly jealous that the GMFs are superior and the humans are right back where they started—preoccupied with this life, with the body, and with relationships. Aure sees this and is gracious to Lucy, pretending to accept her demands and change back. At least, that’s how I interpret it. When of course he’s not going to be affected at all. Lucy has sensitive feelings about this topic, and you have to be polite when you see that in someone. Because it’s—well, it’s very human of them.
And there will be more updates.
The books continue to be sorted and the blog goes on developing. Each time I write or examine my own posts to see which are most popular, I only see more steps in the process of organizing my work and speaking about it clearly. My website and publishing career have never been so exciting.
As I’m working through A Year with the Harrisons (formerly American Homeschooler) to get it ready for publication, I’m struck by how much time has passed. Over 8 years, in fact, and I wrote bits of the story before. This is really an early book that I’m publishing to give it some finality. I didn't quite trust the popularity this book acquired and sidelined the story for a while until I could figure out what was going on. It was nice to get so much interest—people were actively following it on my FB page each week as I posted and unlike many times the reception was overall great. I had loads of likes and comments, even online book signings for Facets of Fantasy, which was published right before.
Since this story had prominent young women who had been homeschooled—my background—it was natural to have a few questions about whether this was based on my experiences. I always laughed because it wasn’t at all. Anyone who knew my parents and sisters would think resemblance to the flamboyant Harrisons was ridiculous. Of course, people might be curious about that and that seemed harmless. But I never did put my finger on what was going on with that little explosion about AH and something about it bothered me.
So, strange though it might seem in the face of so many requests for prints and exclamations about the book, I retired it. Let it disappear for a while. Many of the followers were personal acquaintances on FB, so maybe I felt it was getting too close to those real relationships. Making me more of a curiosity being stared at by friends than a serious writer who had written a real book. And I’ve never been sorry I put it aside until I could present it to an audience with more distance between me and the readers.
The more I’ve published other books and seen reactions to them, the more I’ve felt sure there was something about all that AH stuff. I hadn’t realized how much I’d grown to dislike the story. When I opened it again, I was surprised to find it wasn’t all that bad. I’m giving it a polish and some trimming, and soon it should be published. Now I’ve had some years pass, it should be okay for the story to return.
And there will more updates.
A few years ago I heard an extremely funny line in a TV show. A boy was trying to disguise something he had been doing and had to make something up on the spot. He wasn't very good at it and said he had been watching a superhero show called Captain Backwards. "He saves the day at the beginning and does all the boring stuff at the end." Then he added, reflectively. "It's a terrible show. I don't know why I watch it."
Similarly, most people I've ever run into talk backwards. They simply lie. They say the opposite of what they mean. I am quite aware that all feedback I've ever received on anything in my life, from my height, to my weight, to my stories, has been the opposite of what the person really thought. Even if they believe that they mean what they say, it's obviously backwards--obvious to me and to everyone else. I think this is a terrible idea and I don't know why they do it. What is the point of a show that there's no reason to watch after five minutes? And what is the point of saying something negative you don't even mean, or praising something you don't even like?
I say what I mean because that is a much smarter thing to do. If I hate bananas and claim to praise them, you know what will happen? People will believe me and start giving me bananas. They will always order banana sundaes for me and buy me banana yogurt when I'm sick. They will get me fried plantains and smile sweetly about how they know it's my favorite. Since I hate bananas--which I do, by the way--I will be miserable. And all because I lied and said the opposite of what I really think. I didn't want to admit I hated bananas, for some indiscernible reason, and now I'm living the banana nightmare.
Honesty really is the best policy. I don't throw a fuss when people do certain things because I'm hurt. It's because it was the wrong thing for them to do. They were just lying and I despise lying. It's idiotic. I don't have time for arguments, so I'm just going to believe what you say. If you wanted to make friends--cursing at me and saying I was stupid and fat was a foolish move. I'm not going to bother unraveling people's psychology. I'm just going to agree with them. So it isn't the best idea to say something you might regret my agreeing with.
And there will be more updates.
Singing, dreaming, telling stories . . . I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I love to write more than I love to read, but nothing equals a book that draws me in to find its story. Most recently publication: A Year with the Harrisons, a contemporary coming of age about three sisters, country life, and music. Next year's publication: Temmark Osteraith, a futuristic fairy-tale adventure.