Do societies re-package their narratives of recent events? And is that ‘history’?

Great, thought-provoking post!

Matthew Wright

The other day a reader commented on a post I’d written about 9/11 as history and pointed out, quite rightly, that it doesn’t take long for events to be ‘packaged’ in ways that stand against the more dispassionate requirement of historians to understand.

The cover of 'Shattered Glory'. Now out of print. The cover of ‘Shattered Glory’. Out of print (sigh…)

I agree. There’s no doubt in my mind that dramatic events affecting whole societies are swiftly re-invented by those who live through them. Not least because of emotional entanglement with what’s just happened. This is normal, historically. I traced just such a re-invention of New Zealand’s 1915 Gallipoli defeat in my book Shattered Glory (Penguin 2010). By April 1916, just five months after the stalled campaign ended in an ignominious retreat, it had been re-cast as a glorious victory, because it was a sacrifice for Empire. This reflected prevailing pop-sentiment of the day towards our place in a wider British Empire and helped…

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It’s Blog-moving day!

I finally got a self-hosted site, so this blog is now going to be located at Most of you won’t notice a thing, since presumably WordPress is moving my followers over sometime today and everything more or less looks the same. The only bigger change is that you can easily sign up to my mailing list, which entitles you to special sneak previews of my book as it marches ever closer to publication. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet 21- Janna

wewriwaIt’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

Last week, Janna and Anton watched a bunch of scary people destroy the farm they were staying at. With no food, no money, and nowhere to go, they make their way to a tavern whose proprietor- Maya- helped Janna when she was first on her way to the farm.

Maya was outside, watering some flowers in a pot by the door. “Why, it’s you again,” she said, her pleasant face creased in a smile. “You and your boy- though I could’ve sworn you had a little girl last time you were here.”

Janna had thought she couldn’t possibly cry anymore, but the moment she tried to speak, the tears came again.

“Oh dear,” Maya said, “something dreadful’s happened, hasn’t it? We’ve been hearing the most terrible stories these past few days.”

“My sister’s dead,” Anton said, as Janna tried to gulp down her sobs. “That woman with the horrible eyes killed her.”

Previous snippets are here.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet 20- Janna


Happy New Year! It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

We last left Janna hiding in the woods with Anton, while the farm where they lived was attacked. Anyezka, Janna’s 5-year-old stepdaughter is at the farm, but there’s nothing they can do until the marauders leave. Finally, they see them coming down the road.

A woman rode at the head of the group. Tangled black curls fell down her back, over a long, dirty sheepskin coat similar to what the others wore. But while they whooped and laughed, she looked  around silently, scanning the edges of the forest. Janna shrank back.

The woman slowed her horse to a stop as she sniffed the air and Janna could have sworn her eyes glowed yellow, like an animal’s. She sniffed again, then shrugged and urged her horse on. Neither Janna nor Anton breathed until they were well down the road.

“What was that?” Anton asked, still shaking

Oh, I think we know exactly who it is- though the what may still be unclear! Guess she didn’t waste any time getting right back to work after installing Braeden in his cozy dungeon.

Previous snippets are here.

2014 All Wrapped Up

2014It’s a good thing I keep a journal. In looking back on the year, it felt like I’d done nothing but write fiction. That was not altogether true. While 2014 was by far my most productive fiction-writing year yet, I didn’t really kick into gear until it was nearly half over.

When it came to personal and family drama, 2014 was blissfully uneventful. There were ups and downs but no major illnesses, deaths, or emergencies. There was one messy divorce that I got very peripherally involved in, but compared to the upheavals of the past decade, life went pretty smoothly. Even though we spent a crazy amount of time and money on truck and trailer repairs, those are minor problems in the grand scheme of things.

Early in the year, I realized that I needed to come up with a proper plot, so I spent a great deal of time figuring out the major events of my story and writing really detailed character profiles. I was doing this pretty part-time. My main focus back then was still on our online dating blog and book. During the spring, I had all kinds of crazy technical problems around that, and also felt like I needed to really step up marketing efforts around it. I just wasn’t feeling it, though. All I wanted to do was work on the novel.

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet 19- Gwynneth

wewriwaHope everyone had a lovely holiday. We’re still celebrating, since all of the family didn’t make it at one time. We’re also enjoying being in one place for more than two days at a time.

Even though I’ve been terribly lazy, I didn’t want to miss out on Weekend Writing Warriors. Click on the link to see the full list.

Last week, we left Kendryk terribly worried that he would be forced into a confrontation with the empress. Gwynneth sees it as an opportunity for Kendryk to take advantage of the empress while she’s distracted with a number of other problems, so she’s trying to persuade him to assert the somewhat nebulous rights he holds under an ancient imperial charter.

“But what will you do if Teodora simply orders you to send Father Landrus straight to her?”  Gwynneth asked.

“Perhaps I can respond with a counteroffer to buy some time,” Kendryk said, looking rather distressed at the idea.

“Don’t bother with all of that- just tell her what you intend to do and refer her to your charter if she objects.”

“I sometimes think you should be the ruler,” Kendryk said, and slid an arm around her waist. “You’d be better at it.”

“Oh, that;s ridiculous- you’re quite good at it yourself,” Gwynneth said, though she was pleased.  “In fact, you’re very like my father, always weighing the risks and making very careful decisions. I’m afraid I didn’t inherit much of that.”

Previous snippets are here.

I have arrived at the dreaded middle . . .

It was bound to happen. I was having so much fun, was so filled with hubris, it was only natural that the gods of something would strike me down. Okay, I haven’t exactly been stricken completely. It’s more that things suddenly got a lot more difficult. I knew it was coming, but held out hope it wouldn’t, or that it wouldn’t be so bad. And you know, it really isn’t so bad. My pace has slowed, but not stopped.

I think it helps that this book was planned out a lot more carefully than the first one. Even though I’ve slowed down, I still know exactly where I’m going. I just have to keep herding my seven (!!!OMG) pov characters in that direction. I’m also encouraged because I’ve done it before. It took several tries for the first book, but I made it through a more daunting middle, with some bigger problems to face, at least structurally.

What didn’t help was getting all distracted by Prince Rupert, so my brain jumped forward twenty years and stayed there for far too long. It was somewhat productive in that I’ll now be sure to have the proper wee munchkins in place so they can grow up to be characters in the next series. I won’t kill them off accidentally- I hope.

Henry Jermyn By Sir Peter Lely Uploaded by Jack Wills It at en.wikipedia
Henry Jermyn By Sir Peter Lely Uploaded by Jack Wills It at en.wikipedia

This also led to me spending too much time on Pinterest, looking at cavalier fashions. What with all of the big hair, the lace, the frilly cuffs, and far too many accessories, you had no choice but to be a badass. My moratorium on wigs still holds, however.

We’ll be in Oregon for Christmas, and I’m hoping to still get a bit written every day, no matter what else is going on. Keeping up the momentum seems to be key. Hope all of you have a Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet 18- Kendryk

wewriwaIt’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

Sooo, last week, I kind of left Janna in a bad place. So sorry. I’d planned to continue her story today, but it’s just too dang depressing to post this close to Christmas. So, we’ll return to Kendryk and I’ll bore you with theology instead. 🙂  He’s been poring over the Holy Scrolls with Father Landrus, and so far, isn’t finding the answers he’d hoped for. :

Kendryk’s eyes burned, but he deciphered the ancient letters one more time, just to be sure. “The Scrolls do mention a ruler who will defend the truth,” he said, finally looking up, “but the only description they give is that he will be young and from the north, That could be me, but it could also be King Lennart of Estenor, or Gwynneth’s brother Arryk, or even Prince Ossian.”

“None of them have stepped forward in defense of the truth as you have,” Landrus said. “That is all the proof I require.”

“So let’s suppose I am that ruler.; the Scrolls say nothing further except that he is to be present at the final battle. Does that mean I have no choice except to fight the Empress?” And that was it right there- Kendryk’s worst nightmare.

Previous snippets are here.

I’m not sure if I’ll be here next week. I’ll be with family for a few days after Christmas, so I might be busy, or not, depending on niece and nephew quantities present on any given day. 🙂 I wish all of you happy, safe and blessed holidays!.