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    Entries in Mesembria (1)


    Site (more or less) complete, research ditto - full steam ahead

    I've taken a couple hours out of my writing time to get the design and structure of this site into a somewhat improved form. It'll continue to be a simple, bare-bones site, but with luck the initial construction will hold for a while now. I'll focus more on updates through the Blog page, and trying to add some links to sites that have proven especially useful in my research.

    I've completed the bulk of the background research on Amaline at this point, a bit ahead of schedule. There will continue to be a significant amount of work to do to cross-check dates and places, as well as to flesh out period details - everything from what kind of drawing materials and media were used in the early 8th century, to dress and diet, to the location and condition of road networks through Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. I'm sure that kind of targeted fact-finding - or, where facts are hard to find, informed speculation - will continue throughout the writing of the first draft and even well into the editing process. But I feel good about where my research stands at this point.

    This weekend, in the midst of a family ski vacation in Sunriver, I took the time to revisit my outline and bring it up to date with the latest migrations in my mental concept of the book. Again, this is an ongoing iterative process. Research a bit, write a bit, restructure - rinse and repeat. Short of having a novel spring fully formed from my head, I'm not sure how it could be less messy, though I continue to hope for a way to download my imagination via USB cable into a thought transcription program. If anyone knows of such a thing, I'd love to hear about it.

    I'm excited about where the project stands and where it's headed. Now it's largely a matter of begging, borrowing, or stealing the time to push forward on the writing.

    Current word count:  50,000, against a (very loose) target of 200,000 for the first draft. From there the manuscript will go through some surgical reduction to get it to its final, (relatively) svelte form.

    Thanks to Mitch Williamson for helping me track down sources on medieval Islamic shipbuilding and naval forces. Thanks also to Martin at the Museum Ancient Nessebar in Bulgaria for insight into the meeting between Leo III and Justinian II near that site, just before Justinian II's restoration and the beginning of his second reign. And finally, many thanks to Chris Lightfoot, Director of the Amorium Excavations Project (1993-2010), for his guidance in tracking down material about Leo's presence in and around Amorium in 715 and 716 A.D., as well as the nature and status of the city at that time.