Sunday, November 3, 2013

Land, Sea, Sky: the blog posts, vol. 1.

Alert readers of this blog will have noticed that November -- a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month -- has begun. A couple of weeks ago, I declared my intent to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, which means I'm churning out a lot of words on a fairly regular basis this month.

And too, the first book in the new series, Crosswind, is due to hit virtual shelves near you on November 20th. So I'll be kicking out some promotional stuff preparatory to the blog tour in December.

In short, I've got a lot of writing to do.

But I don't want to give the blog short shrift. So, since my head is full of the NaNo novel anyway, I thought I'd spend November talking about the structure of the series and a little something about the main characters. If you've read the prequel short stories (a vanishingly small population, if sales are any indication), then you've met their younger selves already. This will be a chance for me to talk about how they've changed in the intervening ten years.

Let's start with Tess Showalter. She's a complicated individual, and someone who has never really thought about how her background has shaped her. She grew up in Kansas on her family's farm. Her father fought back hard against Big Agriculture, holding out against all their attempts to buy his property, until Big Ag, in the form of a multinational corporation called MegaAgriCorp, sues him for violating their seed patents. The settlement allowed the Showalters to keep their land, but placed so many restrictions on their operation that their farming days were virtually over. (I may or may not have ripped this part of the plot from the headlines.) In addition, the settlement prohibited Tess's parents from speaking out about MegaAgriCorp in any way. Tess was a minor, and argued that the settlement didn't mention her, and so she should be able to say what all of them were thinking. Even as a kid, she knew that what this corporation had done to her family was wrong and that they ought to be stopped. But her father, in an overabundance of concern for her safety, forbade her from speaking out.

This was probably not the first time Tess had received a mixed message from her father. Parents, after all, are human beings, and prone to contradiction. But this one stuck with her, and did a lot to shape her as an adult. And too, the day her father silenced her was the day Morrigan came into her life. Tess stumbled across her at the creek on their property, and there, the goddess offered to hurt someone on Tess's behalf. All Tess had to do was choose: either the officials at MegaAgriCorp, or her father. Young Tess, bless her heart, was scared to death of Morrigan and didn't want to be responsible for hurting anyone. So she ran.

So when a TV news guy suggested to her on the day of the Second Coming that journalism might be a very interesting career for her, she bit. It would give her a ringside seat to history, she would be able to tell the Truth (just not about MegaAgriCorp), and she wouldn't have to make any life-or-death decisions.

In Crosswind, Tess is 27 years old. Antonia Greco offers her a job as an investigative reporter on her cable TV talk show, and she takes it. (That's not really a spoiler; the job offer comes in the first chapter.) It's a dream job, but her fight to the top of her profession has hurt her in some ways. For one thing, she's still a spectator. For another, she has lost her moral center along the way -- she's been smart enough not to get involved with anything like drugs or porn, but certain ethical nuances escape her. And too, she has sacrificed her personal life, and is telling herself that it's because of the job. It's not. It's because she learned early in life that interpersonal relationships are messy and fraught with misunderstandings, and she was never given the tools to cope. It's just been easier for her to build a fortress of ice and hide inside it.

And she remains scared to death of Morrigan, who is still pestering her to break down that fortress and make a choice already.

I think of Crosswind as Tess's book, and so you may rest assured that she will be confronting her problems during the course of the story. But Sue and Darrell also have roles to play. Next week, I'll talk about Darrell. It's his book, Undertow, that I'm writing for NaNo.

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Speaking of Crosswind, I finished the video trailer this week. There's a link on the "Book Trailers" tab if you'd like to take a look.

I think that's it. Back to my lonely writer's garret now, to pump out another thousand words or so. I'm aiming for 10,000 by the end of this weekend, which is only a few short hours away. Wish me luck....

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These moments of ethically nuanced blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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