Day Whatever, Underpinnings

Whew! Home at last! I’m posting here today, then taking the weekend off the blog tour to return to my regular stream-of-consciousness posts. The tour picks up on Monday. Some items have been added, so check the schedule–Remember, a contest goes with the tour.

Way back in 1994, when I first ventured into the world of electronic publishing, a friend of mine bet me that print books would be completely a thing of the past within ten years. Software disks of games, programs and books were sold in racks in the grocery stores. “Books on disk” were available from a multitude of small publishers and individuals. Freeware and shareware made it easy to try before you buy or to pay only what you could afford or what you thought the software was worth.

Print books are still around, and so is electronic publishing. The three books I published back in the day are being reissued by Echelon Press. The first of these, EEL’S REVERENCE, is on the virtual shelves right now in various electronic formats and sporting a spiffy new cover.

It’s been a long time, but I believe the story is still relevant to the human condition.

At the heart is the religion of “holy sweet Micah, child of the All”, who represents humility, inclusivity, the transcendence of spirit, and courage in the face of both life and death. Aunt Libby (priests of Micah are called “Aunt” and “Uncle” because they offer advice rather than laying down the law) represents the “true” priests. There are also “reaver” priests, who are only in the priesthood for prestige and money. Some of these priests have formed a coalition aimed at imposing a theocracy on the general population, whose apathy has enabled the reavers’ power to go unchecked until it’s too late to resist.

Another part of the plot is the intolerance of some land-dwellers toward the sea-dwelling mermayds who, some claim, aren’t truly “people” and have no souls.

Aunt Libby wanders into this situation by chance, and becomes entangled in a knot of intertwining schemes. When it’s difficult to tell your friends from your enemies, and even harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys, it requires a deep grounding to do what your faith requires–or even to know what it is.

The people–human and mermayd–Aunt Libby touches find themselves facing decisions that they would have made without question before they met her: kill or not? rob or not? kidnap? look out for number one?

I’ve enjoyed revisiting this book with the new edits. I took a powerless and ordinary person and tossed her into a toxic situation; she catalyzed it and, just by being who she is, changed it. I thought it was an important thing to think about in 1994, and I think it’s an important thing to think about now.

WRITING PROMPT: Does your main character ever think about religion, pro or con? If not, why not? If so, what does he/she think and why? If not, does his/her religion or moral upbringing affect his/her decisions? How?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Day Whatever, Underpinnings

  1. Robin Spano

    September 10, 2010 at 1:10pm

    Hey Marian, How cool that you’re stopping at your own site today.

    I like your writing prompt. Most of my characters are not religious. They might believe in metaphysical truths, or universal logic, but most abhor organized religion. BUT, when I noticed all my characters taking the same stance, I knew I had to balance it. So I wrote in a religious character that nobody likes at first, and slowly a couple of people came around to accepting her. (It’s a tiny miniscule sub-plot, but I think balanced views are important.) Great question!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 10, 2010 at 9:37pm

      Thanks, Robin! I like your putting in a “religious” character. “Religious” has come to be shorthand for “kinda sorta nuts”, but a wide range of people would come under the umbrella of “religious”, which is one of the things I hope shows in EEL’S REVERENCE. Who is more “religious”, the one who holds an office in the church but abuses it, or the one who claims not to have a soul but consistently does the right thing?

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  2. Pam Ripling

    September 10, 2010 at 7:00pm

    Marian, this post really made me think about the level of spirituality in characters. I’ve almost never addressed it, maybe for fear of touching off negativity in readers of opposing faiths. But thinking about it, I’m sure it can be done in an unoffensive way. Food for thought!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 10, 2010 at 9:47pm

      Pam, I absolutely see your point. And one of my Beta readers said, after she read ER, “I knew you were kidding when you said you liked Father ____!” I was like, “What makes you think Father was one of the BAD ones???” I’ve known so many church-goers who were flawed but honestly trying–with varying amounts of success–to follow their faiths compassionately, and it so often took acts of self-sacrifice and/or tremendous courage. I thought, “Why are pious people seen as weaklings and/or hypocrites? Some are and some aren’t.”

      Check out Bodie Parkhurst’s post at Speak! Good Dog! when she’ll do an essay on spirituality in literature as represented in ER and Brenda Peterson‘s work.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 11, 2010 at 2:05pm

      Thank you–how kind you are! So glad we met! That’s another thing I have to thank Dani Greer for. 🙂

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