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I thought it might be time to put together a more-or-less official set of answers to freuqently asked questions about the Alpennia series, now that there's been enough time that I've heard plenty of questions. (Though sometimes the questions are implicit in comments rather than being asked directly.) I thought I'd post the individual questions+answers here in the blog first--which gives a chance to get more feedback--and then migrate them to their own page once the series is finished.

The character trope of the "personal assistant" -- the person in a subordinate position whose job consists of providing support and devalued labor for a character with more pubic agency -- is tricky to portray. Particularly in an intensely class-stratified culture when that role is not typically freely chosen from among other options. Given her family's background and her work history, Roz sees the position of lady's maid as a desirable goal, but that isn't meant to erase the ways in which being a household servant are exploitative, exhausting, and often degrading.

Worldbuilding for a series is a tenuous balance between casual references to people, places, concepts, and events that will later be important, and not overwhelming the reader with details that appear (and may in fact be) unimportant to the immediate story. So how prescient does an author need to be to figure out what to mention long before that topic suddenly needs to have been clearly established long before?

I blogged once about how one of the things I value in a protagonist is standing outside the norms and structures of societal power in some way. It gives them more incentive to see the cracks in the system. The fact that all my protagonists are women in early 19th century Europe gives them a head start on that outsider status, though there were certainly plenty of women who didn't view themselves in that way. Ones who enjoyed and accepted the place that gave them in the world.

No teaser last week because it was a topsy turvy day: no morning coffee shop session because I took the train in to work so I could go straight to the airport (motel) from work to catch an early morning flight to Kalamazoo. Also because all my spare writing time was being spent polishing a 40-minute first draft of my paper down to a 20-minute presentation. As my regular readers may be aware, writing short is not one of my strong points! But now we're back to the weekly teasers!

For a reader, the backstory and characteristics of a character should appear to be “just how things are”. But from the writer’s side, it’s a careful process of designing that character’s history, abilities, and skills so that they have exactly what they need to fit into the role they’re required to play.

I had to fine-tune parts of Roz’s backstory carefully to give her enough experience with dressmaking to have developed an ambition to learn more, and enough sewing skills to make up for starting an apprenticeship at such an advanced age (all of sixteen!).

I'm a numbers geek. I like tracking and trending things. Crunching data is one of my self-soothing mechanisms. Twice a year, I get the cold hard feedback on how my books are selling. There are indicators I can follow on a more day-to-day basis: review numbers at Amazon and Goodreads, sales numbers at Amazon (though I can only approximate them based on fluctuations in the sales ranking). But in the final analysis, there's data that's only available from the semi-annual royalty statement.

Things move very quickly once we get into discussions of cover design! What do you think?

(I confess I do feel left out of "cover reveal culture", which doesn't seem to be a thing among lesbian presses. I always find out what my cover looks like when it pops up online.)

ETA: Almost forgot -- I also have cover copy!

Sometimes you send a query out into the universe and the universe says, "We'd love to have you on our podcast!" Check out this episode of the Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast, where I talk about the Lesbian Historic Motif Project, the current field of lesbian historical fiction, and many other things.

I finally have the projected publication date for Floodtide (by virtue of simply asking about it). It's on the Bella Books schedule for October 2019. My mind immediately goes to thinking about where that falls with respect to conventions and whatnot. It won't be out for Worldcon (which in some ways is easier, because I can talk it up without the anxiety of having actual books in hand), but it should be out in time for Sirens (which I hope it's a good fit for in terms of readers, though not an event where I'd feel comfortable holding a launch party).

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