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Cantata in Coral and Ivory News

The Making of Cantata, Part One – The Concept

I don’t know exactly when I started writing Cantata in Coral and Ivory, but it was over twelve years ago. At the time I had been writing seriously for publication for several years, and had made a couple pro sales: a short story and an article in an RPG magazine. I had also finished three novels, needed a new project, and was in the mood to write a regency. (I’m a Georgette Heyer fan). But I’d learned enough about the publishing industry by then to realize that if I continued jumping genres like I had been, I was going to make a lot of extra work for myself—particularly in the area of market research. And market research is borrring!

After some thought, I decided that if I was going to specialize in one genre only, it should probably be Fantasy and Science Fiction, because I loved worldbuilding so much. But there was no rule I knew of that said a fantasy book couldn’t have a romantic comedy-of-manners feel to it. And, I had even recently started building a shiny new fantasy world to do fairytale retellings in. Fairytales and comedy-of-manners sounded like a great combination. There was just one little irregularity…

When I made the geography of the world, I had done so by randomly smashing tectonic plates together. And it wasn’t until I had started building a basic “history of civilization” for it that I realized that the continent I had chosen to have my people moving about on and fighting over was approximately the same size and geographic position as Africa.

Comedy-of-manners fairytales in pseudo-Africa?

Why not?

So that became the plan: to write something mannerly, witty, fun and romantic, with a fairytale plot and an exotic African-inspired setting.

Fortune Cookie

The fortune cookie I got last night said “don’t be afraid to take a chance when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself”.

I happened to be out having my “five years unrejected”* party for Cantata. So I was there because I have been waiting for an opportunity of a lifetime to show up, and it hadn’t yet. Silly fortune cookie.

*Last year I joked that I was going to have a “four years unrejected” party, but didn’t really do anything. This year I my husband thought an actual “celebration” was in order, so he took me out on a date. Next year I guess I’ll have to do something on a grander scale. Hands up everyone who want’s to be invited to a “six years in a slushpile” party.


I am still brain-dead and sleepy from Marcon. Going for a walk on Saturday with the family didn’t help that at all, but there’s no point in having a family if you never do things with them.

The In-My-Head Theatre has mostly been running Black Flag. It added a brawl scene to Blood Price, which doesn’t seem to move the story along at all, so at the moment is not slated to go into the final product. But there are some fun character and background aspects to it, so I’m keeping my eyes open for a way to make it plot contributing as well. It’s also been doing Blood at Bonnie Anne’s 18th birthday ball, which at the moment is a partial page mini-flashback. And for pacing reasons it needs to remain a partial page mini-flashback, no matter how much fun stuff my backbrain comes up for it.
Ah well, at least I’m not bored.

On rasfc the subject of poetry-ish stuff in books has come up, and umpteen zillion people (it feels like) have stated that they don’t like it, and they always skip it, and it usually stinks. Just what someone who has written a book in which it is a rare chapter that doesn’t have song lyrics inserted into it wants to hear. ::sigh::

Little bits of happiness.

The new personal copy of Cantata (printed up in book form via lulu) arrived today (I needed a new personal copy because my sister bought the old one off me and hauled it off to Canada with her), and my son Ben grabbed it right away, and a minute ago he read one of the amusing bits out loud, like he does when he’s reading Bujold or Pratchett.:)


Pavane in Pearl and Emerald
Word Count: 80794

Got to write some fun romantic revelation type stuff this week. (Fun for me anyway, my main characters seem somewhat distraught — bwahahaha!)

I also got my first ever personal note from an agent. Yay!
I probably ought to send him a query for something else.

And, Boyd's copy of Cantata in Coral and Ivory arrived from Lulu today.
It looks remarkably like a book.


Pavane in Pearl and Emerald
Word count: 64994

I think we have Cantata ready to print. It worked out to 350 pages. The cover art is rendered — 4 hours! — and I've added the title and a back cover blurb and all that.

For Black Flag I took a break from modeling and have been working on rewriting the Flag in Flames script so that its in actual comic script format, with descriptions of each panel. Boyd says 'Why?' and I shrug and say, “Well, for one thing, it's easier to back up a text script than 193 pages of sketches.” He acknowledges that I have a point there.

For Pavane I need to spend some time thinking seriously about what my antagonists are up to. My knowledge of how things end has progressed, (or is progressed the wrong word when I'm working my way backwards through time?) but I need to know what happens between then and now, or at least, enough of what happens that I can write the next bit. Boyd was curious as to how long Pavane was going to be, and I really don't know. I told him my goal is 100K words, because its such a nice tidy number, but I have no clue how close I'll come to hitting it.

One half hull….

Pavane in Pearl and Emerald
Word Count: 60592

I have completed half a hull for the Celestial Class ships (Jolly Roger and Penzance). Since I will be using a mirror tool to create the other half, that means I'm done with basic structure, and I'm on to detailing. Unlike when I was building the Revenge, I'm going to need to do some interior work on this one. I've figured out how to partition it into decks without too much pain and agony… I hope building interior walls proves to be equally simple.

Today I'm supposed to be working on Cantata, however. Ho hum. Copy editing a glossary isn't nearly as much fun as building model spaceships. (Not to mention that after spending an entire day working on a pronunciation guide for each word, Boyd decided he just wanted a brief “these are the general rules” bit at the top instead. ::grumble::)

It's an elephant.

My husband and I have been working on the Cantata cover image, and think its ready for a big render. Which means that we need to get the pdf of the inside of the book ready, so that we know how thick the spine is, so that we know how big the big render needs to be, precisely.

Going over the proofs of Frozen Witness, comes first though.

Click on the icon to see a test render of the full wrap around cover image.

Author's Note on Ialfa

There is a scene in the movie Slipper and the Rose, in which the Chamberlain explains a few political realities to Cinderella. 'It is not possible that the king give his consent to this marriage'. I loved that scene, and wanted to build a world where I could set romantic fairy tale style stories against a background of reasonably realistic political and cultural situations. But sometimes when you start work on a creative endeavor you discover that it seems to take on a mind of its own.

I decided to create continents by randomly smashing tectonic plates up against each other, and when it came time to start peopling my world, I ended up placing my 'reasonably realistic political and cultural situations' on a landmass the same approximate size and location as our world's Africa. The fairy tale romances I wished to tell became exotic tales of tropical splendor and intrigue.

Feedback on Talking With Winds
'...my only criticism is that it's a bit short.'
-- An Editor
Copyright © Michelle Bottorff

Email mbottorff at lshelby period com