When “Victoria” got pieced together with “Alyce,” it became immediately clear that there might not be quite enough Bella and Ignacio as people would wish. We barely get to see either of them and the flashes on the side are tantalizing. But it’s mostly a story about Victoria, a teenage girl whose life is becoming dominated by a little-seen, sinister man. She gets to know a shady King, his outspoken brother (whose overconfidence just spells out how in love with Victoria he’s going to be), and some middle-aged people who are merely puppets for the shady king and the sinister man. Although they don’t know this themselves and believe they are very important!
This is a great plot and makes the book a fun read.The action, the hint of romance, the characters—everything was finally brought together by the rewrite. But if there were something that there Could Be More Of But Isn’t (that eternal debate that’s so much fun to have) it would be Bella and Ignacio’s back-and-forth with each other. We don’t get to see most of it and there wasn’t more in the original version of the story either. Ignacio is part of the shady government plot and even fishier sinister-outlaw plot, so he might not be someone you’d like your sister to run off with.
But Bella knew about the Hirado before anyone. There might be a lot of things Victoria doesn’t realize about her sister.
And there will be more updates.
When I started watching digital movies, I used an app called Vudu that enabled me to scan older, widely circulated DVDs I owned and upgrade to digital for a tiny fee. Beneath each movie is a link to a list of professional reviews from top movie critics and newspapers. And I’ve been amazed at how stupid some of those reviews really are. I guess reviewers are just trying to get attention by writing this stuff because I have to admit it is fun to read.
Often the reviewers use their review only to show off a contorted vocabulary. And they say the oddest things. Make the strangest comparisons: I.e. saying a flashy blockbuster epic reminds them of an old sweater. Now I am an expert on old sweaters. I have owned many of them. Almost every sweater I own is old. And they don’t remind me of any flashy blockbuster. They remind me of 80’s BBC period drama recorded on a fuzzy VHS.
But I’ve also noticed over time I find those critics delightful. So I examined critic reviews for Star Wars (including the movies I don’t own) just for the fun of it, as this is a franchise which every kind of angry, bizarre person has reviewed freely for years. And I found a treasure trove of people arguing hysterically over literally everything. If I hadn't already seen these movies I'd have no idea what they were like! But the reviewers were a little mini-movie in themselves.
My point is, like all writers I’ve worried about reviews. Negative ones especially. But maybe I should just go “who cares?” Nobody thinks negative reviewers are God. In fact, they are viewed as an entertainment in themselves. And while no writer loves being upstaged by reviewers getting attention for themselves by berating (or just being silly!) about their work, if I step back I see it does make the books more interesting. At least, if they're anything like movies. One day maybe people will read feedback on my books with that kind of sense of adventure--not to take the reviews seriously, but just to enjoy how much they add to the show.
Maybe, one day, I will too.
And there will be more updates.
This week we're exploring The Birthday Present/Millhaven Castle a little bit more. The book is a pairing of two longer short stories (about 10-20k each) and I've highlighted below some of the main characters to look for in these stories.
Lucy Hintara (The Birthday Present). Heroine. She is human and comes out of a last hidden colony to speak to the Emperor. She lands on the doorstep of a boy's school and her adventures go on from there. She is a bit of a flawed character--overly brave to come out on this mission and a bit stubborn. Imagine a naive, ditzy girl wearing a school-girl uniform with her hair in curly pigtails and you've got the idea.
Alyce Lomlossa (Millhaven Castle). Heroine. Unlike Lucy she is very quiet and she doesn't come out of her sheltered group, the Sherbans, voluntarily. Instead, she is summoned by a king for really shady reasons. Alyce's people dress in a self-consciously traditional way, so Alyce does also--but she has a sense of humor about it and like Lucy, she can be very, very stubborn. Imagine a girl wearing an old-fashioned 19th century farm dress and her hair in braided puffs around her ears and you've got the idea.
General Metagaf (The Birthday Present.) Comedy Character. He is supervisor of the boy's school that Lucy strays into. He is a prominent official with much experience, but is now quite out of touch and deaf as well. While he believes he's in charge, he's often clueless and just gets on the boy's nerves. He's garrulous and rough around the edges, as he's accepted things in the world for a long time, so I wouldn't call him sensitive. Imagine a grumpy, surprisingly sneaky man with tufts of white hair and a wrinkled, stuffy uniform and you've got the idea.
Blancha, Ralph, and Lulu (Millhaven Castle.) Comedy Characters. They are other Sherban young people, who are Alyce's friends. When they are invited to the ball, she must travel with them. She's known them since childhood. Imagine Blancha is slender and some might call her pretty. She wears white a lot and often deliberately tries to misunderstand situations. Imagine Ralph is a teenager with a flop of untidy hair and he's awkward as the dickens, mostly hanging his mouth open and getting in the way. Lulu is very young and seems even younger than she is. Imagine a friendly, sometimes rude girl, she likes to make noise but actually has little to say.
And there will be more updates.
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I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I get most of my ideas while drifting innocuously around my house and some of those ideas get into print.
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.