What I’m Reading
A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story, edited by Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko. With all due respect to the dead, particularly considering the horrific, nauseating, cold-blooded way they were taken from this world, it’s so much easier for me as an adult to understand why the Russian Revolution happened. The Imperial Family were so out of touch with how the vast majority of normal Russians lived.
Nicky was writing about how much fun he was having with royal relatives in England, Germany, and Denmark, complete with palaces, balls, parties, teas, and hunting, while normal Russians were just struggling to survive. He also barely had any Russian blood, due to centuries of back-and-forth royal intermarriage. Too many people still romanticise the last Tsar’s family, without looking beyond the beautiful love story and close-knit family to see what weak, disastrous rulers Nicky and Alix were, the wrong people for the wrong job at the wrong time, and how their daughters in particular were emotionally immature and severely sheltered, with no outside friends or lives due to all that emotional incest and parent-child enmeshment. It was NOT normal in the 1910s for royal women of that age to still be unmarried!
What I’m Writing
Just finished Chapter 95 of my WIP and up to about 721,000 words. I’m staying positive I can cap this in at 800K, particularly considering I’m in Part IV and finally heading towards the homestretch. It’s such a beautiful miracle and blessing that it naturally worked out so each Part reads like its own self-contained story, with a focus on different characters and storylines. This book can easily be put out in four volumes without a loss of continuity or dramatic momentum.
Chapter 95, “Andrey Opens the Door,” ended up the longest Part IV chapter so far, and also one of the longest overall chapters. Darya and Andrey are such a cute, sweet couple, each what the other needs and wants most. I saved their first kiss and declaration of love for the end of the chapter, though they’ve been falling for one another more and more over most of the chapter. Delayed gratification and slow build is much superior to the annoying instalove. They’re both 21, yet have no reason to feel embarrassed these are all first-time experiences. The best things in life are worth waiting for.
Chapter 96, “Fedya’s Homecoming,” is one I’ve had memorised in my head for a long time. No one has any idea Fedya has been demobbed and come home, so it’s a huge surprise for everyone. He’s coming home on his mother’s birthday, and gives her quite a shock!
What Works for Me
If you’re writing a family/town saga, you absolutely need to start making family trees and lists of characters by family. I’ve been doing this for years with my Atlantic City characters, and also have a family tree and relation lists I started in 2001 for my Russian characters. When you have lots of characters to keep track of, over many generations, and more than a few couples also have numerous children, you have to have a place to keep track of birthdates, marriages, relationships, etc. If you don’t start compiling this data while you’re ahead, it’ll be a nightmare to sift back through so many pages and start from the beginning.
It’s also good to get as much as you can down in advance, so you don’t forget, along the way to getting there, who’s going to marry whom, and the names you have planned for these couples’ children. Then again, I’m an Aspie, so my brain works overtime and retains obscene amounts of detailed information like it’s no big deal.
What Else I’ve Been Up To
My first Russian historical, You Cannot Kill a Swan: The Love Story of Lyuba and Ivan, is now available for pre-order. I initially had second thoughts about my cover, but I returned to liking the image I’d worked so hard on creating. The two covers I illustrated myself were intended as a two-off, not a regular habit. I know I’m not the world’s most experienced, professional artist, but I love hand-drawn covers, and sometimes a whimsical, simple picture is better than a high-tech, trendy, digital image. That’s not to say I’ll never upgrade those two covers to something digital, but for now, they are what they are.
After the release date of 7 November, the price is going up to $7.99, based on the length and all the years I slaved away on this book. I’m only putting it at $3.99 now to see if it’ll help with pre-order sales.
And if you’re wondering, I mostly created the cover with Caran d’Ache Pablo coloured pencils (oil-based) and Portfolio Series oil pastels, with a few touches of Caran d’Ache Neocolor II wax pastels, Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils, and Koh-I-Noor wax-based coloured pencils.