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.
I posted a couple of weeks ago with a list of my books correlated to Disney Princess movies. What I wanted to do was use these motifs to move past a general “idea” about the book's identities to examine specific themes in each story. Comparison to these movies is not a final definition for my books. Rather it is a start towards eliminating vagueness about each book's personality. Since these are children's movies, and childhood comes first in life, perhaps it makes sense to begin by examining the simple concepts that appear in them.
So this is a follow-up post where I’ll give a bit more detail on what I’m talking about here and why I chose each movie for each book. To keep the post from getting too long since there are 10 little summaries, I've broken it into two posts with five books for each post. (The Palladia Series has 2 books in it, so that is five in this post. It just looks like 4.)
I'll do a similar summary for the remaining 5 books in a later post.
And there will be more updates
This is the third installment in the In a Nutshell series of blog posts, which takes some of the central five characters from each book and explores them in a bit more detail. Since the two Palladia books are in a series, I’ll explore them in one post. But there were originally 10 characters discussed regarding these books. So I’ll do five and bundle a couple of them under a shared function in the story.
Sidney shows something that’s important to remember about City of the Invaders—most of the real story takes place behind the scenes and in corners adjacent to the main plot. Sidney's actions in the story embody this truth as he does not appear until the final chapters, but it turns out he has orchestrated the outcome the whole time. He has almost no lines, but what he does say is really terse and to the point. Because he's now in charge, there's little need to say more, and there's a formality and elegance to the way he speaks as he drops in to say hello to these kids he's about to move out of their world into his. 😊
Consuela is vital to the companion story, which is named after her. We are shown few women or girls among the Invaders and they are described as near crime and often not respectable. Consuela appears at least somewhat attractive and has enough useful skills to get hired by a wealthy retired lady and blend in with her boss's friends. Her backstory isn't really known in the book other than that where she came from entire houses could have the same monetary value as the dresses given her by Miss Plummer! But her past actually includes a hidden link to Sidney.
Bruce and Mocha are two teenage starlets who bring the social world of the EC into each book. Although neither of them speak much, what they do say is the center of the scenes in which they appear. Mocha enjoys perfecting and cultivating her creative talent, while Bruce is more action-oriented and holds his own when shooting erupts during a stage performance. He has put a lot of investment into his life in the theater, even if he thinks it's somewhat boring, and others can rely on him to come through.
Miss Plummer appears at first to be mostly a plot device who brings with her a group of friends. These friends believe she does not see them because she does not stop them. As they bubble on the surface, all are too quick to assume they know things about the others—whether Amy really wants them to visit Mocha, whether Rena is really interested in books, and whether Rachel sees more than she pretends. But they don't know much about their elderly benefactor, as is shown by her strange move to make a confidant out of a street girl. Like all the EC, her relationships with the Invaders can be subtle.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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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.