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.

Continue reading

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!.

Book Review- Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier by Charles Spencer

RupertIt has been a while since I enjoyed a book and its subject so thoroughly. I found myself dawdling through the last chapters, sorry that it was nearly over. I picked it up on a whim, since it was available to lend through Amazon Prime, read a chapter, and promptly hit the “buy” button. It very nearly counts as research for the series I’m working on, although not quite. It’s definitely given me a concrete idea for a second series, and a direct sequel to this one. For some time now, I’ve been thinking that if I finished writing five million words about a fake Thirty Years War and still wasn’t sick of the time period, I could continue with a fake English Civil War. Now I’m nearly positive I’ll do that. I even have a fake Prince Rupert already. It was clearly meant to be.

Anyway, this book was awesome, one of my favorites this year, and probably in first place for nonfiction reading. Spencer (Princess Diana’s brother, no less), is an engaging writer and thorough, even-handed historian. And Prince Rupert is a completely fascinating subject. Born in 1619, to Frederick V, King of Bohemia (the Winter King) and Elizabeth Stuart, (yup, MY Frederick and  Elizabeth), he was the fourth of their thirteen children.

Continue reading

Liebster Award: Acceptance and Nominations

liebster2It seems I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award by the awesome Kate M. Colby. This is a great way to get to know some of your fellow bloggers a bit better and give some attention to ones you particularly enjoy. Here are the guidelines:

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to his/her blog.
  3. Write 5 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 bloggers (they should have less than 300 followers).
  5. Answer 5 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 5 questions. 

Five random facts about me:

1. I used to be a banker! I had a variety of roles, including small business loan officer for Wells Fargo.
2. I have a mallorn leaf tattoo; I am that serious a Tolkien geek.
3. Before getting into the truck my husband drives, I’d been to twelve countries besides the US. Now I’ve visited all lower 48 states, too.
4. My first serious crush was on Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. I was a strange child.
5. I have three siblings who have provided me with nine nieces and nephews.

Five questions from Kate:

  1. What is your number one “Bucket List” item?  I would love to visit the ruins of Troy. I’ve been obsessed ever since reading The Iliad as a kid.
  2. If you could live inside of one book, which would you choose? Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with Narnia coming in a close second.
  3. If you could have any career in the world, what would you do? I’d write novels 🙂
  4. If you could have one wild animal as a pet, what would it be? A tiger.
  5. What is the legacy or meaning you want to leave on this world? A bunch of really good books that people will enjoy reading and thinking about for years to come.

Five bloggers I nominate:

1. Impromptu Promptlings
2. Neva Squires-Rodriguez
3.  Alexis Duran
4. Veronica Scott
5. Phoenix Grey

Five questions for the nominees:

1. Who was your hero/role model when growing up?
2. Was there a book/movie that changed your life?
3. Why did you start your blog?
4. Your favorite place in the world- whether or not you’ve been there.
5. A song or piece of music you especially love.

Feel free to pass on the love and Happy Holidays!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet 17- 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.

I just realized that Janna’s story is still behind everyone else’s, chronologically. Gee, I wonder if it’s because I’ve rewritten her arc about four times? Anyway, she’s done her best to adapt to life in the country and resist attempts to marry her off to the icky Seko. She’s found that a good way to avoid him is to spend her days in the woods, looking for berries. City girl that she is, she can still identify a wild strawberry!  Her step-son Anton usually comes to get her in the evenings so there’s no chance of Seko finding her and “escorting” her back to the farm. One evening, they are heading back when they see an armed party approaching the farm. Anton is worried about his little sister who’s still in the farmhouse.

“They don’t have any reason to hurt a little girl, ” Janna said, trying to keep her voice from shaking. “They’ve probably just come to steal. Let’s sit here quietly until they’re gone.” But waiting was almost unbearable,and once the horsemen had passed they crept quietly through the bushes until they could see the farm.

“Mama,”Anton tugged urgently on her skirt just as she saw the red glow. “Mama, the house is on fire.”

He scrambled to stand up, but she grabbed his arm and didn’t let go, especially once the screaming started.  It seemed to go on forever, and finally Anton stopped struggling and rolled into her arms, trembling and wetting the front of her dress with tears.

Previous snippets are here.

Book Review: History of the Thirty Years War- Friedrich von Schiller

SchillerThis book was pure joy for me to read. I’ve been a fan of Schiller since reading some of his plays in college and I wish i had read this years ago. I’ll probably hunt down a German version soon, because even though he wrote in the 18th century, his prose is so clear and vivid, it’s not very difficult. If you’re looking for a detailed, unbiased, chronological account of the Thirty Years’ War, this is not it. I’ll repeat myself again and direct you to C.V. Wedgwood’s history, or Peter Wilson’s if you’re feeling masochistic.

I don’t really know how to describe this except maybe as historical literature. The narrative flow is superb, and it feels like you are being told a story, rather than a dry retelling of events. Writing in Germany, barely a hundred years after the war’s end, Schiller’s approach is very passionate. Repercussions of the events he describes were still very real, and it’s clear that opinions on the war and its major players were still pretty divided in Europe. It’s an orderly progression and is easy to follow if you already have some familiarity with the events. I’m assuming it’s going to be a tougher read for someone who hasn’t read any of the more contemporary histories.

Schilller also had no compunction about taking sides. Continue reading

Belated NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

The past week flew by and I somehow missed the end of the month. I was so motivated, I kept writing during Thanksgiving break. I really wasn’t expecting that and had planned on just taking the time off. It turned out that I really didn’t want to. While there was a lot of family to catch up with, there were some quiet times too, so I just kept my laptop close and wrote a chapter or so a day.

I was on track to hit 75K by midnight on the 30th, but on that very day, I found out that my brother had HBO and that I could watch Season 4 of Game of Thrones. I wrote a bit that day, but started watching TV around 3 PM and didn’t finish until around 3 am, including a few breaks. My head was spinning, but at least now I don’t have to wait until February/March. (Though I’ll still be anxious to have the DVDs.)

My final count for NaNoWriMo was just over 72K, which is still pretty respectable. Even better, I show no signs of slowing down. I don’t know if I’ll finish a first draft of Book 2 this month, but I think I’ll come close. I just passed the 1/4 mark (or so) tonight, so I’m very nearly on track. The middle is going to be very loooong and complicated, so I’m hoping I don’t get bogged down there. So far, I’m having a lot more fun with this one. Maybe it’s because it’s the second in a series so I can plunge right into the story without spending a lot of time introducing characters, establishing the setting, and so on. Or maybe it’s because I’m actually getting better at writing a novel. I sure learned a lot through trial and error on the first one. In any event, I feel like this book is going to be great and very exciting.