Stephanie Burgis
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more grants and other scary ideas
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Well, I'm in the process of applying for yet another travel grant--but this time on behalf of my fiction writing! I'm applying for funds to go to Eszterhaza and actually walk around the palace and its grounds, take copious notes and photographs and do research that I just can't do outside Hungary. (Some of it I could have gottten done in Vienna, if I'd had time, but damn it, that little issue of the thesis got in the way during that research trip...and after all, that was the project I was getting paid to research at that point...) I have no idea how good/bad/minimal my chances at this grant are--officially, applicants don't need to have had a single publication before, but I suppose if someone who's published ten novels already applies for it, I'll be out of luck. In the meantime, though, I'm debating what to do about my application package. I'm supposed to submit 5,000 words of speculative fiction, which means that I could theoretically submit (a) 5,000 words (the first 5,000? an exciting 5,000-word chunk cut out of the middle?) of Masks and Shadows, to show what the research is actually for...or (b) a 5,000 word short story (or 2 2,500 word stories) which are already finished and polished (and perhaps, depending on the story, already published). Any suggestions? The obvious advantage of M & S is that it's extremely relevant to the application as a whole; the disadvantage is that I would have to revise like mad in the next month, and it still wouldn't be final-draft excellent, since (after all) I still need to do so much of the research. What do you think?

The other scary-cool thing that happened today was that I was attacked by an opening to a novel so cool and challenging that I had to write the opening down--but I'm terrified of the amount of research and hard work that this one will entail! Bad enough to have to do tons of extra research on a time and place I know quite a bit about (the Austro-Hungarian empire in the 1770s); it's a huge step beyond that to try to write a novel partially set in Vienna in the 1750s (before My Period, but not so hard) and partially in Constantinople in the 1760s (aaaack! I know almost nothing about it! aaaaack!). This is waaaaay scary. On the other hand, my mind is buzzing and buzzing, fitting together characters and stories, magic and complicated intrigue. I may not feel up to writing it, but I sure would love to read it...which is usually the deciding factor in settling on ideas. So...does anyone have any recommendations for a good book on Ottoman social/political history in the mid-to-late eighteenth century? (I know more than anyone could ever want to about Ottoman political/military relations with the Habsburg realms throughout the century, but almost nothing else.)

I am tentatively very psyched.

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