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.
This Merry Summertime is now available for preorder on Amazon Kindle. It will be on sale for $0.99 during the preorder period, which runs for the next couple of weeks. A paperback edition and ebook preorders on other retailers will follow soon. Click the link to visit the preorder page for the Amazon US store. The book is available on all other Amazon retailers as well.
Summer has always been one of my favorite times of year and it's been a blessing to come in from a warm summer day and work on such a warmhearted, cheerful book as this. As usual when I dive back into something I’ve worked on before, I always think it will take “only a few days” to whip it into shape and it actually ends up taking a couple of months. But it’s still been fairly easy compared to the process with some of my other books and that's probably because the book's happy tone made it fun to work with. It has a really joyful theme of reconciliation. Here's the blurb:
This Merry Summertime is an anthology of seven comedy shorts. 4 of them (Sarcophagus; In the End the Story Ended; The Destiny of Princes; and A Matter of Life and Hair) are entertaining scripts that gently satirize the genres of paranormal fantasy, literary classics, silent film, and western romance while providing fresh takes and strong characters to tell these archetypical kinds of stories. The other 3 (Ella Substituted; Movies at the Beach; and Everwood) are short stories that use comedy adventure and mild fantasy elements to explore family life and young women’s place in the world. The theme of the book is reconciliation and renewal as the characters traverse through fiction tropes to find eventual peace and meaning in their lives and the stories celebrate youth, especially for girls, but for everyone who has happy memories of a time in their lives when life was an eternal—and sometimes hilarious—summer.
This Merry Summertime became a book about crossing divides, learning when it's foolish to get mad, and building up after mistakes. As I worked on making seven individual concepts come together in one book, I realized that every story focused on this theme. There’s a mummy and vampire couple who strangely remind you of people you know: a teenage girl who realizes she’s almost missed out on a really good friendship: an idealistic 19th-century woman who argues with her boyfriend and accidentally sets the town against her only to see it turned to rights: a Cinderella who brings divided kingdoms together without meaning to: and several others who round out a collection that is all about second chances.
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.