I’ve arrived at an exciting place in my writing experience. I just brought the introduction of Book 2 of the Lost Xentu series up to where I began the anthology that has some parallel to the series book. Now I’m seeing how I wrote the anthology piece and seaming it with the other story but not making it identical. It’s going to be tricky, deciding what to make different. I’ve never taken part in an anthology. The rule is that it’s a stand-alone. But I couldn’t resist making it derive from the story I’m already invested in, my series. Even the same main character. Can’t she go off and have a different adventure, to the side of the series? I’m about to find out.

Another aspect of the process I’m in happened last week in the Philippines. I finally met my book cover artist in person, both of us there for my son’s wedding. On the last day of the trip (for me) we went 25 feet down into the sea to hang out with fish, helmet diving. After, on the launch raft, we talked about how amazing it was that we had that experience together, since the cover of my next book is an undersea scene! Sabrina said it helped her process of imagining the main character’s viewpoint, from deep under the sea. I imagine creating art goes to the same place as when I’m living into a scene I’m writing, or can. Without living the emotions and perceptions, I won’t paint with words in a way that allows the reader to live it with my characters. I’m loving seeing this cover develop, seeing how Sabrina is exploring the textures and surfaces of sea creatures and plants. And to share that, in a far away place, brought a rich new dimension to collaboration.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll complete the anthology titled Mnenu, Sea Elf (which just got its cover—I’ll be putting it into my next newsletter which you can sign up for below)—that will come out as a stand-alone in October. Today I’ll wear the hat of making it its own story. I actually love this particular point of writing, when I return to it months later, discover the details of what I wrote before, living back into it, this time not crafting the original story but polishing, deepening, enlivening. But I’ve never had this particular project, of making it a different story from the main series. In this broken off piece, things can happen that we never see reading the series. In fact, they should. Maybe in the series, she remains loyal to Tenali, at least longer. Or maybe not.

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