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Magic in the world of Alpennia is elusive to the senses. Someone with the right talent may see the workings of the mysteries in visions--though no two will see exactly the same thing--or may hear it in "angel voices", like one young woman who appears in Mother of Souls, and many who have no other special sensitivity will experience the Great Mysteries as a shiver like the feel of someone walking over your grave. I not only have to convey how each character perceives is, but to convey how they understand what they're perceiving.

I'd lost track that the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards were being announced this past weekend at Gaylaxicon. The announcement has been moving around a bit in recent years due to the Gaylaxicon schedule. Last year and on a number of previous occasions they were announced at Chessiecon/Darkovercon. So it took me by surprise Saturday when Catherine Lundoff started live-tweeting the results. According to the website, 36 novels were submitted for consideration from 2015.

This past weekend I tackled the emotionally draining process of going through all my notes and lists about potential reviewers for Mother of Souls and this morning I sent the initial list to my publisher.

I confess that I get a thrill out of planting bits of information in a current novel that also serve the purpose of setting up events for a future story. It's one of the reasons I've made my peace with having things plotted out in advance in a fair amount of detail. If I don't know the general who, what, where, when for the overall series arc, how can I know what seeds I need to be planting now? When I knew I wanted to write Floodtide, and realized that it would weave into the events of Mother of Souls, I had some careful planning to do.

In this series of teasers, I'm working hard at not using scenes that touch on the main backbone of the plot. Spoilers and all that. Given that the various interpersonal relations are not the main backbone of the plot, I thought this might be a nice teaser from Chapter 11.

People often tell you that the best books are written when the author is writing the book they most want to read. The flip side of that, is that not all of your potential readership is going to love the same things you do. But some will. And as long as the hidden "Easter eggs" can be read as background color, I see nothing wrong with tossing in a bit of geekery that only a subset of readers will fully appreciate.

I’m solidly in the middle of editorial revisions for Mother of Souls. There was a request to up the stakes a bit, so I’m layering in an additional set of magical perils across the board. It’s a bit harder to see if I can find a way to hit the reader with angst and peril at the very start of the novel as requested--it doesn’t really fit the shape I enisioned, which was more of a gradually growing realization that something has gone very wrong with the Alpennian Mysteries. In the end I’ll be true to the story, but I’d like to make my editor happy as well, if I can.

Although my viewpoint characters are all non-normative in their sexuality in some fashion, Barbara is the only one who habitually pushes at the edges of gender performance boundaries in her appearance. It began when she served as the late baron's armin, and wore masculine clothing for practical reasons. Given that her inheritance of the title might also be seen as a minor transgression--Alpennian inheritance law allows for women to inherit, but social practice strongly prefers male heirs--she also chooses to use gender-crossing garment styles as a marker of status and authority.

It's always hard to find the balance between giving readers the descriptive details they want, and not going overboard. Reader feedback on the Alpennia books has taken contrary positions: some praising me in relief at not being subjected to endless details of ballgowns and parties, some wistfully longing for more details of ballgowns and parties. The tight third-person point of view that I use can make it awkward to describe things that the characters would take for granted or consider unremarkable.

The most frustrating thing about they way the Alpennia books fall between genres and between markets is trying to figure out how to bring them to the attention of readers. It will be interesting to see the ways that the StoryBundle promotion that finished up last week will address that question. Of course, not everyone who bought the bundle will read Daughter of Mystery. And not everyone who reads it will love it. But that's true of any path by which a book comes into someone's hands.


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