One of our carols for the Lessons and Carols concert at my church (which I have jokingly fictionalized as Our Lady of the Mispronunciation, for reasons which would take a long time to explain) is called "The Snow Lay on the Ground". And good gravy, does it ever. At least two inches last night. The dogs are going crazy with joy.
Last night's snowfall, and the expected accumulation today (up to eight inches, some of the networks are saying), makes this an excellent day to discuss some of my upcoming works. Not only did I start the Christmas/holiday collections through the CreateSpace process last night, but my next Anosir novel is entitled Snowball.
Yes, that's right -- I'm actually going to write about Trycanta on Trycanta Tuesday! Surprise! Well, not so much a surprise, at least not to anybody who knows my pattern. I've just finished Killdeer and am preparing to post it for sale this Friday, which means I can launch In the Bleak Midwinter at the same time. Exciting news, but...
Since I was very little, I've been subject to the phenomenon of letdown. It's a fairly universal human trait, but I tend to get it strongly, because I feel things strongly. In the hours and days after I finish something important, like a play I was in or a holiday I've been looking forward to, my emotions are volatile. I'm sad, angry, easy to annoy.
The best way, I've found, to counteract letdown is to have something else that I'm already working on, because that way I'm not completely at loose ends. Thus, when I'm writing, I usually have several projects going at once. This also cuts down on writer's block, since being stuck on one story can actually break another one open.
So, having finished Killdeer and the holiday collections both, I'm definitely detecting signs of letdown in myself, which means it's time to get Snowball lined up in the back of my head. I don't have to start putting words on paper yet, though there will probably be several documents filled with my equivalent of notepad scribbles soon.
What I do have to do (in between working on Playing with Fire, and Surpassing Danger, and The Spell of Sealing, and going through this same process on What You Wish For) is start picking out my plot elements. In my experience, if I tell a good story, with engaging characters, the themes, messages, etc, all will follow. So...
As Homecoming was set over the course of an autumn, so Snowball is set over a winter, though the winter of the following year. Our heroes and heroines are a year older, and, they hope, a year smarter, but will smarts help when a silver-haired lady with the mind of an inventor finds herself interested in two young men at once?
Also, where Homecoming took place within a somewhat familiar framework, a human society at a roughly medieval level, Snowball takes us into uncharted territory, being set in the "wild lands". These are the home of the lyrror, who have adopted this human term, meant unflatteringly, as the reflection of a truth which amuses them.
As I covered in this blog post, lyrror are the more rambunctious, energetic race native to Trycanta, which is part of the reason they don't get along well with the more rule-and-custom-bound mazor. The heroine of Snowball, Aysi, has no lyrro blood in her at all, but both her suitors do, so she has to consider how to deal with their wild sides.
Added to that, as human cities are built primarily for humans, so lyrro cities are built for lyrror. Humans tend to consider them claustrophobic, maze-like webs of tunnels, poorly lit and with few navigational aids they can use. For Aysi, who enjoys fresh air and needs good light to do her work, striking a compromise can be difficult.
And finally, the "tasks" mentioned briefly near the end of Homecoming will enter into their fullness here. By the laws of Anosir, anyone may challenge the current ruler for the throne, provided they fulfill certain criteria, both magical and mundane. That's how the present king, Malak, got his throne, but that's not how he wants to lose it.
Unfortunately for Malak, Aysi and her friends don't much care what he wants. They have spent the past year searching through the muddle Malak has made to try to obscure what must be done to make a challenge for the throne a viable one. But does Aysi's other suitor have an advantage that would make such a challenge unnecessary?
With all of that, plus various elements of Snow White, to play with, the plotbunnies are popping their little heads out of their holes to squeal, "Pick me!" "No, pick me!" "Please, pick me!" Playing with Fire comes first, obviously, but I'm hoping to have Snowball done by next August at the latest. A winter novel in summer... refreshing.
T-minus three days on Killdeer and In the Bleak Midwinter, or Christmastime Is Here 2013 if you didn't get last year's Christmas special! T-minus I-wish-I-knew for Surpassing Danger, though I'll pull the chapter document up later and see what develops. Thanks, as always, and I may or may not blog on Thanksgiving... we'll see!