Monday, March 25, 2013


It was a rough month. Sad and listless more often than not, I wondered constantly about the reason for life on Earth. My novel -- my baby! -- was away in the care of someone else.

I've now received my draft of The Seven Noble Knights of Lara back from the editor. I chose her with the greatest of care, and it really paid off! She's given me the most perceptive comments I've received yet and has a well-reasoned, definite answer about my main concern: what to do with the beginning.

She didn't boss me around, but I made a decision based on all the pros and cons she presented, and I couldn't be happier. Sorry, husband, but the prologue you so love is going in the trash. That prologue sets the book off in the wrong direction while committing all kinds of other cardinal sins of writing (see below), so I'm relieved no more people have to read it! I need to rewrite it as Chapter I from the perspective of a main character. It's so eloquently simple, and it resolves the anxiety I was having because I wasn't sure I introduced the title seven knights early enough.

So, with all these new ideas percolating and tons of other responsibilities in the writing/editing arena, I'm going to be glued to a computer for the foreseeable future.

Some of the cardinal sins encountered in the prologue I'm tossing once and for all:
1. Head hopping. I tried for true omniscient, but it was head hopping.
2. The main point of view character gets killed within the first two pages (thus the need for head hopping).
3. It starts off with a bang before orienting the reader and giving her/him a reason to care what happens.

Don't commit these sins in your novel! If you have, stop right now and fix it! You'll do an editor and later readers a tremendous favor.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I Write Historical Fiction

Why I Write
I distinctly remember taking a pencil and paper and trying form letters before I had even been taught to read, so the urge to write has always been with me. The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” never made sense to me, because I was already a writer. There was no reason to wait until I was “grown up.” It helped that my home environment encouraged reading and I found plenty of authors to influence me. I met Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Willo Davis Roberts at a conference when I was in the third grade and I knew I would be doing readings and signings just like them.

Why I Write Historical Fiction
The Middle Ages have hovered over my shoulder my whole life, but it wasn’t until after I was halfway through a master’s degree that I fully realized that this was the time the fairy tales are talking about! Princes and princesses! As I delved deeper into factual medieval culture, I was captivated by the bright colors, the crazy musical instruments, the spirit of discovery, and the wonderful writing done in languages that were just developing. I continued to study the Middle Ages in an academic context, and had the opportunity to feel the excitement of touching history when I examined manuscripts from the era, but scholarly seriousness never permitted the joy that was roiling inside me to burst out.

My advisor said, “You like to tell stories, don’t you?”

I replied, “Yes,” but my true reaction was, “That’s what literature is all about!” I would love to get back into the classroom knowing what I know now about stories and transmitting enthusiasm and how they aid in learning.

After I earned my PhD, I thought I’d try my hand at NaNoWrimo, and that’s where it finally began to come together. I could write novels about the Middle Ages! My readers would be a willing audience, and I could draw a realistic picture of a rich, exotic world that would make them feel they had traveled in time.

Writing The Seven Noble Knights of Lara
While I was taking courses for my PhD, I read the fragments of an epic poem preserved in a thirteenth-century history book and was captivated. I never wrote anything scholarly about it because it seemed too precious for analysis. I did my first NaNoWriMo after graduating, and before strep throat claimed me for the month, I completed 25,000 words based on that amazing epic. But that draft was just no good. My education hadn’t taught me how to make a reader feel as if she were talking, riding, fighting, loving, and suffering along with the characters. At the beginning of 2011, I made a choice to rewrite the entire thing. In November 2012, I finally finished The Seven Noble Knights of Lara. Maybe four or five sentences from the first attempt have survived. Most have been expanded or replaced with researched historical context and, more importantly, excitement, emotion, and fast-paced action.

The Seven Noble Knights of Lara is being edited and will soon be under the eyes of agents and editors… Wish me luck! Or feel free to contact me if you're an agent or publisher. Please see the About the Author and Contact Page.