Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dreaming Anastasia teaser Sunday

DA isn't coming out until the fall (exact date still unknown but I hope to announce that soon), so it's seemed so far away that I've sort of let it be. But enough of that. Time to let you gentle readers see what's on the horizon - without of course, giving too much away!

Today's teaser:

Dreaming Anastasia has three narrative voices - 16 year old Chicago high school junior Anne, who discovers that she's suddenly got wacky power and an even wackier mission; maybe or maybe not 18 year old Ethan who's had his own magical mission for a long, long time; and the last Grand Duchess of the Romanovs - Anastasia, who isn't quite as dead as the history books say. Toss in Russian folktale witch Baba Yaga and a bad guy named Viktor, shake everyone up, and you've got the bones of this story.

One of the most enjoyable elements for me was getting to create an alternate history for Anastasia and the Romanovs. Because it's not just that she's not dead. It's where she is and why she's not dead and how she got to where she is. It's my alternate history family secrets and longings and desires. And the even more enjoyable job of intertwining these with Anne and Ethan's worlds and lives.

I told my editor during one phone chat that I knew I was on the right track when the alternate history began to feel real. Plausible. And when I had to sometimes pause and remind myself what happened and what didn't.

The story of the doomed Romanovs had captured my imagination since I was fourteen and first read Nicholas and Alexandra. So I suppose it's no wonder they all wandered their way into my debut novel. Getting to tinker with that story has been no end of fun. Of course sometimes it's sad, too, which is always part of the point with Anastasia. She was a seventeen year old girl who never got a chance to be a woman and live her life. I know it's why so many people are drawn to her story and why so many rumors questioning her demise have popped up over the years. She was feisty and fun and irreverent. And I hope you'll all feel I've done her justice when DA comes out.

If anyone else is working with alternate histories, please feel free to chime into the conversation. What did you enjoy most about changing history?

Til next time...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Balancing Act

It's tricky, this balancing act, especially this time of year when I'm regularly slammed with heavy grading loads. Spring semester means poetry and research, and intensive writing in prep for state testing, among other things. When you've got 150 plus students, well, just do the math. Even if I spent only 60 seconds on each paper each day... Add in a couple of WIP's (works in progress, if you're not into writer's lingo), Dreaming Anastasia coming out in the fall and all that entails, keeping up with blogs, website and the wonderful thing that is Class of 2k9, plus that slippery thing called the rest of my life and you've got the picture. So much I want to do, including reading every book of my fellow 2k9er's. And only so many hours in the day. So when you've written a couple of hours, taught for eight, stayed after school for another hour or so, graded into the wee hours and realized that you still need to wash your hair and that your carpet hasn't been vacuumed in, well, awhile and the bathroom's an ugly story, what do you do?

Actually that's the question! If you can't do it all but you really sorta need to, what do you cut? For me, it's been tv - which I shamelessly miss - and some of the more intense keeping up with friends that I've always done pretty religiously. It's been quitting most committees and really truly saying no to volunteering. Not that I ignore my friends. Just that I'm unable to do as much as often right now. And sleep - sometimes that seems to go, too. I know I'm not alone in that one. But what else can ya do? You've got this enormously amazing gift that is publication and the day job that currently pays the bills.

So like I said, it's a trick, this whole thing. Wouldn't give it up for the world. I mean seriously - what a lucky problem to have, right? I'm not unaware. I'm thankful beyond measure, beyond words. Happier than I've ever been. But even at that, I'm always wondering how everyone else manages.

Anyone want to chime in?

Til next time...