It's time to dig deeper into this book. It's one a lot of you might not know anything about and it has two parts. The first story, The Birthday Present, was a futuristic idea that I actually wrote pages and pages and pages about. But it resulted in this shorter story instead. Originally I wanted to create a themed series, but I went on to other projects and this book became a stand-alone, so--no series. (But that might explain the "Homeschooler Fantasy Series Volume One" you'll see burned into one of the print editions.)
Millhaven Castle, the second story in the book, was a bit of a problem because I went through 3 different-yet-very-similar versions of this story. After sorting all my stories, I've repackaged, rearranged, or rewritten almost all of them. One of these little Alyce stories was published with The Birthday Present. I eventually created a new edition that said just "The Birthday Present" in the title, but "Millhaven Castle" somehow made its way back into it. The two stories belong together because they both talk--in different ways--about culture clash and the theme of both is bringing two different cultures together. So it makes sense to bring two different genres together to have a little culture clash of their own!
Millhaven was also in an anthology called Facets of Fantasy for ages, but I eventually cut it and put it into this book instead. It tells a great story combined with "The Birthday Present," whereas the rest of the Facets stories have lost readership over time. And "Millhaven Castle" doesn't need to appear in two different books anyway. Still not sure why having an old period-landscape painting works at all for the cover of a book with a sci-fi story, but in this case I think there's really no reason to care about that.
And there will be more updates.
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.