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It isn't that I go into a writing project assuming that I know exactly what needs to go into the story and what would be superfluous, but it would be accurate to say that I don't go about writing entire chapters without a clear purpose to them. So when the editorial feedback (in this case, from my beta readers) comes back pointing out serious issues that can only be fixed by eliminating entire scenes, events, and characters, there's always a twinge involved.

Alpennia is all about challenging and subverting default paradigms and tropes, simply by its existence and by the people and stories it focuses on. But it can be tricky to have the characters themselves challenge those paradigms without falling into the trap of pausing for set-piece speeches. Consider, for example, the problem of both portraying and challenging the types of social prejudice endemic to early 19th century Europe without turning my characters into 21st century progressive activists.

For those who have been waiting for it, the ebook versions of Mother of Souls are now available through non-Bella distributors, including iBooks, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble among others. (I would remind readers that Bella gets a bigger cut when ebooks are bought directly, but of course the best place to buy a book is always the one where you actually buy it. So I will never quibble as long as you buy!) This seems an opportune time to remind readers that reviews on the major reader-review sites like Amazon and Goodreads really help with visibility.

I've started trying to get my habits aligned for the New Year, hopefully without any duels of honor out in the Plaiz by torchlight! I'm currently working on two (2) Alpennia short stories. One for submission to an anthology, telling a story from Jeanne's "wild era" that involves a lovely French opera singer who specializes in trouser roles and who just might be a spy...but for whom? The other is a "just for fun" character sketch about a character who won't appear in a book until Sisters in Spirit. It's something of a ghost story, so I may try to hold on to it until next October.

As a reader, it can be easy to forget just how much power readers have to make or break the success of a book--particularly of a book that doesn't have the resources of a major publisher's promotion department. I always feel hesitant about asking my readers to serve as my publicists, but the simple fact is that when an author tells people about how wonderful her books are, it gets discounted as meaningless. When a third-party reader tells people how wonderful a book is, they're more inclined to believe it.

This is it: release week! And I...I'm floundering. It doesn't feel right to act as if the world is normal. To treat promoting a book as the most important thing to be doing. Yet when I look through the themes in Mother of Souls, I think perhaps it does have some resonances for these times. Here's something I posted on Twitter. Is it just me justifying myself?

I'm not going to lie--I'm going to spend the entire day being jittery about the election. On the one hand, in my core, I'm confident that Clinton will not only win but win decisively. On the other hand, I'm horrified and terrified that the political climate of my country has made it possible for someone like Trump to get this far.

Pre-orders for Mother of Souls are available at Bella Books for both hard copy and e-book!

(They're doing the monthly website updating currently, so content may shift and settle somewhat.)

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The events and concerns in Daughter of Mystery were very parochial. We heard about secondary and tertiary effects of the French Wars (i.e., Napoleon) but ordinary people's everyday lives didn't concern themselves much with international affairs. When I brought in the character of Kreiser, the Austrian agent, in The Mystic Marriage, I started digging a lot deeper into what was going on elsewhere in Europe. What was his political context? Who might he be working for or against?


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