This story was, I think, the most heavy revising I've ever done, and it was (luckily) all good and happy collaboration. Edmund liked the original version but asked that I change a few things to make the conclusion more interesting. I did, and ended up changing it from a happy ending to an unhappy one, which made his head explode a bit. We back and forthed once more after that, and I think the story ended up being a lot stronger for the interaction.
The name (and inspiration) for the story came from a yard sale find, a housekeeping manual from the 1890s, which includes various gentle arts like constructing Aeolian harps and making crystal gardens from an alum solution. The label pasted inside the book names it as having belonged to one "Hattie Fender," who served as namesake for the heroine. I had started the story as an entry for a Codex story contest and ended up getting so carried away with the beauty of my own prose that I had 500 words describing Hattie, the tattoos on her scalp, the scent of bergamot in her wake, and so forth - and not much else. Edmund, happily, persuaded me to rearrange this big lump of verbiage and fold it into the story in a much more graceful way.
Taking a feather out of one's pocket is a tribute to a YA novel whose title I can't think of, where the heroine, who lives most of her life on roller skates in early 19th century NYC, does the same thing to determine where she'll go. Similarly, the pennies placed in the curio cabinet are an echo from All of a Kind Family, another YA novel I loved.
Note from Asst. Ed, Scott M. Roberts:
The "Codex story contest" mentioned by Ms. Rambo is one of a number of contests held by the online writing group, CodexWriters.com