I've started trying to get my habits aligned for the New Year, hopefully without any duels of honor out in the Plaiz by torchlight! I'm currently working on two (2) Alpennia short stories. One for submission to an anthology, telling a story from Jeanne's "wild era" that involves a lovely French opera singer who specializes in trouser roles and who just might be a spy...but for whom? The other is a "just for fun" character sketch about a character who won't appear in a book until Sisters in Spirit. It's something of a ghost story, so I may try to hold on to it until next October. I've been thinking seriously of setting up a mailing list for fans of Alpennia (or my writing in general) and using that as the venue for the initial release of free stories. All sorts of people have been telling me that mailing lists are de rigueur for an author so it's worth giving it a try. It would be a way of getting word out about publications, sales, appearances, etc., and as a metric for interest it would be easier to track than more open-ended communications. The bait (in addition to those communications) could be bits of exclusive content. I've been joking about the "Alpennia fan club". I have an actual list of the people I consider the founding members, based on the wonderful support they've given to the Alpennia books. So maybe it's time to do something concrete in that direction.
Luzie, too, is looking toward the New Year. Her opera is at a stage where she just might feel ready to start thinking seriously about finding a patron. (Like many writers, she's over-polishing it at this point, wanting it to be perfect before presenting it to an outsider.) In the mean time, she finds herself with an unexpected contract. Margerit Sovitre has unbent her disbelief about the nature of Luzie's music sufficiently to hire her to play for the thaumaturgy students at the Tanfrit Academy. Margerit's idea is that practicing how to record mystic visions might be safer using Luzie's musical effects rather than using "real" mysteries for the purpose.
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Chapter 24 - Luzie
The music room at the Tanfrit Academy had once been a small side parlor. With its red-flocked wallpaper and marble fireplace it might have been a room in the house of any of her students’ parents, except that few of those would have boasted both a fortepiano and a double-manual harpsichord. There was talk of adding more instruments in future years. Luzie rattled around in the space as the sole instructor, brought in—as Maisetra Sovitre had noted—as a lure to parents concerned that their daughters be accomplished and not simply learned.
Mornings were individual lessons. After lunch the room filled with girls eager to learn music theory—not the principles of composition yet, but the basics of the science of sound. Luzie had felt out of her depth at first. She’d taught brief snippets of such things around keyboard lessons, but never anything so formal. As that first month passed—as November turned to December—she and the students came to an agreement of exploration rather than instruction. When the lesson was over, instead of musical notation the chalkboard might hint of mathematics or physics or some other subject brought in slantwise.
Once, in the first weeks, she’d gone to apologize to Maisetra Mainus for the chaos and lack of direction, but the headmistress had nodded gravely and said, “If there’s love of learning, the rest will come. We’re all feeling our way down this path. Do you have what you need? Are there any books or supplies lacking?”
Luzie needed do no more than mention that composition books might be of use and the printers were set to work producing sheets of staff paper.
But this class was the one that left her most unsettled and yet most joyful. Late in the day, the small group of girls identified as having thaumaturgical talent clustered around the fortepiano with notepads in hand and she would play. It might have been awkward, except that Serafina was there as their teacher, though she disclaimed the title.
“Begin with your nightingale song,” Serafina had suggested in the very first session.
And so she had played that simple tune over and over again for an hour, learning to ignore the delighted exclamations and puzzled comments of the students as they learned to record on paper whatever it was they saw or felt.