This Merry Summertime was published just a couple of months ago, but in some ways it’s an older book because most of the stories in it are between 6 and 8 years old. I call it my “missing piece,” for two reasons: It rounds out my publications to an even 10; and it finalizes everything I’ve made public, in whatever form, into a formal publication. The stories in this anthology were aired briefly on my blog once upon a time, but I got busy with other things and it was years before I knew these missing pieces were just as much a part of my writing as the ones that had been in print for a long time.
And that being the case, they should be given a paperback, a share of attention, and a list of Five Central Characters that bring focus to This Merry Summertime:
Queen Arangiphaten is a comedy character, a legendary Egyptian mummy who has resurrected, and at times a very ordinary woman. She’s all star power, royal swagger, and haughty dignity—plus she’s quite adept at harnessing moonlight into cheesy lightning. But behind her efforts to protect her ancient monument from vampires and American teenagers, she is a woman who just wants to spend time with the man she was married to for a thousand years.
Count Rousillion, also known as Bertram, is a man who astounds with his inattention to reality. "In the End the Story Ended" is a retelling of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays and Bertram is based on the hero. He is unable to rise to the occasion. No matter what the occasion is, and no matter how much we’d like to sympathize with him as he is hounded by a creep—Bertram seems incompetent at living life.
Mr. Marcus Stone is the director of a children’s movie that has spun off from a popular TV series. Fussy, strict, and usually angry, he is not pleased at all when twins Hal and Hetty accidentally crash his movie more than once. Since they’re not in school, they got mixed up with his actors instead and while Mr. Stone doesn’t hesitate to express his displeasure, he keeps running into their family. Every time he believes it will be the last time, but it never is.
Nora Ashford is an attractive young actress in Regency England. "The Destiny of Princes" imitates vintage-era historical films, with elaborate costumes and descriptions of silly, over-the-top acting, so Nora’s demeanor is part vintage, part Regency and all swoon, creating a myriad of stagy poses, hysterical sobbing, and melodramatic situations as she tries to impress smug, fastidious Beau Brummel while the Prince Regent and his minions pursue her.
Mrs. Dimwit is a confidential friend of the Heroine in "A Matter of Life and Hair." Contrary to what her name suggests, she's actually very astute. But as a woman in later middle age living in a slightly-pretty western town, she enjoys her life very much. She is unambitious and feels she’s exactly where she wants to be, so she can be gently insensitive to the feelings of others and surprise them with statements that are tactless or odd. This occasional thoughtlessness contributes to the comedy, but she is respected by everyone, especially by the Heroine--who never hesitates to take her advice.
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.
Author of Science Fiction, General Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Anthology Fiction
Always looking to better my craft.
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