Friday, July 10, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XX

Wowzers: Part Twenty!

So as you probably figured out from last time (well, THIS was really last Friday, but you know what I mean), even though I turned in the deployment book in October of 2008, it wouldn't be out fall 2009. Instead of a lag time of roughly 9 or 10 months, it would be about twice that.

Originally the release date was "spring" 2010 (which was hard to hear, because that could mean several different months and you have no clue what to plan for), but I now have an official release date for that book: this March.

I don't yet have an official title, but for the first time in ages, I submitted a manuscript with a title. I'm calling it Band of Sisters. (Get it? Like an army "Band of Brothers"? Their wives at home are a "Band of Sisters"? It was my husband's idea.)

So far, my editor and I are still calling it that, but I have no idea if the committee is really giving it that title or whether it'll change. (I'll post that info here when I find out.)

Right about the time I was finishing up Band of Sisters (and getting ready for edits on Tower of Strength . . . remember how the time lines of of all these stories really overlap?) my husband and I took a trip to visit my parents on their latest mission when they had a two-week break for temple maintenance closure.

You can see our trip in all its glory on this blog HERE, but the short version is that my parents are the first president and matron over the Helsinki, Finland Temple and we got to see all the great sites in the area. What long-time readers may know is that I lived in Finland for three years when I was a kid while my parents presided over the mission there.

I hadn't been back in over twenty years, but even so, Finland has always felt like a second home to me, and returning even for those few days was life-changing. I really felt in so many ways like I'd come home. Smells and sounds and tastes bombarded me, bringing with them memories and emotions that had been buried for over two decades. I even got to see a dear friend a couple of times. (And we're both all grown up! How did that happen?)

I simply didn't want to leave.

One result of the trip was writing-related (of course, or I wouldn't be writing about it on this post). My dad used to teach Finnish literature classes at BYU, and because of that (and also likely because Mom's a Finn and we'd lived there), I'd learned bits and pieces of the Finnish mythology, the Kalevala.

Also, in the Finnish National museum, I'd seen the ceiling murals depicting four of the stories from the book, and I even mentioned one of them in At the Water's Edge. When I was younger, we had several decorative plates showing scenes from the Kalevala on the living room wall.

During our trip to Finland last fall, I had this gut feeling that I had to finally read the whole Kalevala myself once and for all (the one good English translation; I knew I wouldn't understand the original Finnish well enough anymore).

A second thought followed right behind the first: after reading it, I needed to novelize one of the folktales in it, much like Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days or Jessica Day George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. I left Finland absolutely compelled to do something similar. I just had to.

The trick was first finding a copy of the Kalevala. My sister and I searched our parents' house for Dad's copy, to no avail. Copies are hard to find, and online they run about a hundred bucks. Ahem. Not exactly in the monthly budget.

But about two weeks later, a package arrived in the mail. My husband, knowing I had this burning drive, had secretly bought me a copy online. After giving him a massive hug and smooch, I dove into it.

Before writing anything new, I had to finish my Tower edits and polish up Band of Sisters and then get through the holiday rush, but after that, I wrote a young adult novel about the Aino story very quickly. It was so much fun to write something totally different.

I hadn't dipped my toes into fantasy since my son was a baby (he'll be in 9th grade this fall). It felt good. Even better, my critique group loved it (and a couple said it might be my best work ever . . . that felt even better).

One tiny issue: This book is nothing Covenant would ever in a million years want to publish. It's just not something that would appeal to their target audience. That means to get it published, I'd have to start the national agent query and rejection process.

(We'll not discuss how many rejections I've received so far.)

Right around the time I was finishing up the Kalevala book, which I'm currently calling Song for Aino, two other projects landed on my lap because others asked for them.

Here I had a book about to be released in March (Tower of Strength, if you're keeping track) and with it a blog tour and other promotion to coordinate. And yet . . . since I have a habit of not saying no when it comes to writing stuff, I said yes to both projects.

Plus, I was on the Whitney Committee. And the LDStorymakers Conference Committee.

Spring would be a bit busy.


Anonymous said...

I'm so excited about the Song for Aino! Please, please keep us updated on what's happening with it. And what a wonderful hubby for surprising you with exactly what you needed. That's a good man, Annette. I dare say, you should keep him. ;)

Can't wait for the next installment! (Next to WNW, these are my favs!)

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Knowing the original story, I am so excited for Song for Aino to be accepted and published. Also, as always, excited for the next installment of this series!

Annette Lyon said...

I have to clarify Kimberly's post for readers--she knows the Kalevala and knows the story about Aino. So she knows the original that I'm retelling, not just how it came about that I'm rewriting this folktale, if that makes sense.

Kinda cool to find a few people here and there who actually know the Kalevala. Jordam McCollum is another. That was a joy to discover!

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm so excited to learn more about this fairy tale!

Luisa Perkins said...

I cannot WAIT for the Kalevala book!

Amber Lynae said...

What an exciting Journey. I love reading how your writing had changed and the new directions it is taking you in. I can't wait to see how your new stories fan out. Keep us updated.

Melanie Jacobson said...

I think this project sounds seriously cool. Maybe it's because I only read Shannon Hale for the first time recently and I love that whole groove. I've always been a sucker for fairy tales and it's been a delight to discover new ones I'm unfamiliar with. I bet yours is awesome.


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