Almost there…..

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Medieval Commerce.jpgI’m now in the final stages of preparation for my trip. Tickets and lodging were secured before 2018 even began but the big work of the last 4 months has been taking my list of things to do that is THAT LONG and getting it down to something that might, possibly, sort of, be close to manageable.

I’ll never do all of the things I’m looking to do and I’m starting to be okay with that.  There are two thousand five hundred years of recorded history in the areas I’ll be visiting but I’m only interested in the now and the Middle Ages. That still leaves me much to see and experience and that’s exactly what the trip is for.

I plan on updating this blog with something at least a few times a week. Not promising daily, I have things to do! Maintaining the blog will be, itself, an adventure. I’m not hauling a bunch of tech with me so I’ll discover just how hard/easy it may be to work with a camera and an iPad. What? It’s an adventure!

Ready? Set?

Allons-y !

Looking Forward to 2018

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Last year, I accomplished some big things. I published my first novel to Amazon, A Call of Moonhart, I finished one draft and one rewrite of a book I’m calling Harmony in Three Voices, and I began the research for my next novel series.

It’s possible that I’ll get Harmony published in 2018. It’s pretty rough and a lot will depend on what my writing group says about the story. It would be great to have another novel out there but publication will depend, in large part, on my ability to split focus between researching, rewriting, and editing.

I would also like to do more on this blog. I have a new camera and have been taking pictures. I’d like to get some of them up on the site. I’d also like to get a different WordPress templated going. Neither of those  things — going through photos or updating WordPress — are simple tasks. Wish me luck!

I’ve written about that new series before and about my trip to France. The trip is on. I’ve bought the tickets and I’ve arranged lodging. I’m landing in Bordeaux and will travel across the south of France, checking out castles, medieval cities, monasteries and convents, and just getting a sense of the place until I fly home from Nice.

I have a number of goals for the trip. Research for the novels is the biggest aspect, but I’m hoping that the trip itself will lend itself to other writing goals while I’m there. One of those goals for the trip is a travelogue. I’ll used WordPress to get words and some photos up on the blog while I’m traveling. It will be limited only by what I can do with the app as I’m not taking a computer with me. Look for that to begin in early summer. Another goal is material for other sorts of travel writing. The notes I have on the trip itself could lend itself to articles in various publications. What and when will be a function of the adventure itself!

This is a business trip and I hope to get a number of “products” out of it. But it is also an adventure! I’m anxious and excited for that adventure to begin. It starts in just a few months and there are MILES to go before takeoff, in terms of research and my own education. These next months will fly by.

Stay tuned.

Update on the Historical Novel(s)

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This has not been an easy summer, in any number of ways. Obviously, blogging has been one of those elements that has suffered over the summer. But this is a good forum for me to discuss the current project and what my plans for it are. So, here goes:

I’ve previously mentioned that I’m researching what will be a series of historical novels, set in Provence in the 1440s. Probably mysteries, possibly thrillers, maybe “just” historical fiction. It depends on whether the puzzle takes my fancy, the chase, or the milieu itself. It has been pointed out to me that, of the elements that make up the MICE of fiction (Milieu, Idea, Character, Event) that for me, the milieu often battles it out for first place over the Idea.

I’m fascinated by the time period I’m working in. It is a time where the western world is recovering from the Plague that swept ravaged Europe not even a century earlier, during which more than of the population perished.1 The disruption caused by that event may be what led to people looking to the past for answers, with the Humanists prising old books out of monasteries and convents in order to learn how the Ancients thought of the world, searching their past for answers to their present. In the same way, both the Renaissance Humanists and the fracture in social norms that came with the eradication of millions of people from the plague meant that this time in the West was the last century in which Europe would be united by religion instead of fractured by it.

My summer has been taken up by two major decisions. The one personal.2 The professional one is that I am going to travel to Provence next year to do research on-site. I’ve been looking over travel guides; thinking in terms of not one, not two, but three books in the series so as to maximize my time there; oh and considering the idea that I might want to spend a day or so doing something just for fun.

To make it most worthwhile, this summer has been spent improving my French reading skills. They have improved. But will it be enough to do the research I think I need?

Is any of this going to be enough? The amount of things I’m not finding is daunting. The amount of French I’ve learned has been gratifying, until I try to write in French or try to read something not aimed at new learners and I find myself stumped, or going to the translation dictionary time and time and time and time again.

But as it is good to have goals, this goal will spur me on to continuing to improve my language skills and my research skills. I may bring in help for all of it. And then next year, I’ll spend some part of the spring in Provence and even if I fail at learning anything new (er, old, but seriously, how could I not learn anything?) I will still spend the spring in Provence and that sounds pretty good.

My hope is to keep making blog posts as I prepare for the trip. Initial decisions will have to be made soon (like in the next month), so I have to start locking in dates and locations. Flights soon, hotels soon after that. I’m going to push ahead with research through October, lock in those locations to visit … and then set aside the Historical and go back to Harmony. I discovered that I can’t split my focus in such a way as to work on two, but by November I’ll need to take a break from the 15th century and get back into the 21st, at least for a bit. I figure two months for the re-write and then back to Provence in my mind come January and in the flesh come spring.

Allons-y !


  1. Can you imagine? Within the span of a summer, half the people you know are dead. Or maybe more than half if your area was hard hit (averages can be a bitch that way). Look around your home, your workplace, the highway as you commute and imagine taking away half and leaving piles of dead. 
  2. And by personal, I mean, not the subject of this blog or post. 

A Failure of Google-Fu

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I’m running into an issue with my research for the medieval murder mystery. Not everything I want to know is online! Or, if it is, it isn’t in English! I know … shocking.

I’m working on the language aspect. My French reading skills are getting better so, if I can find documentation in French, I may even be able to read it. Someday. Soon. I hope.

More worrisome, my google-fu is failing me. I’m just not discovering important things, like where the heir to Burgundy was to be found in 1418 (he wasn’t lost. I just can’t find him). I have no idea of the name of the mistress of Chateau Montbrun in 1427, or the list of convents and/or monasteries to be found in Guyenne, Provence, or Burgundy in the fifteenth century. How hard should that be, really?

One of the benefits to writing historical fiction is that I can use my imagination to fill in the blanks. But when do I decide that the information is not out there and it isn’t just that I’ve failed to find it?

Post WisCon Blues

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I tried to figure it out this year. I try to figure it out every year but I really have lost track by now. However, I think my first WisCon may have been WisCon 20. WisCon was my first SFF convention, has been pretty much my only convention, save for a couple of forays into MinneCon and even one World Fantasy Con, the year it was in Saratoga.

For the first decade or so, I would leave WisCon energized, ready to get to my next project, finish my current project, read all the good stuff, do all the writing. In those days I came off of WisCon on an incredible high! There were years I did readings, I participate on panels. I met some really great authors and made some long-term friends there. Smokey Wizard Bacon, my writing group, was formed out at WisCon (alas, like my first WisCon, I don’t remember which year that was, either. I remember it happened during one of the “Living Room” sessions with Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. That narrows it down to a few years) and I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have with my writing if not for SWB.

But for the last several years, going to WisCon has ended with the blues. I’m not sure if my expectations were too high or my goals unrealistic. I know I was focused on selling my writing and maybe that was the issue. I’m not sure if its because fewer of those friends formed in the early years are going any longer, that I’m going to more panels alone. I’m not sure if it is because WisCon management treated my friend Elise really poorly or if, because of that total failure to do the right thing for a harassed woman at a feminist convention, I stopped going for a few years and haven’t been able to get back in to it.

Whatever the reason, by Memorial Day I feel entirely let down. I’m disillusioned, I’m ready to pack it all in. This year was no exception. I read on Friday but found no panels that I was interested in going to or at times I could attend. None. Zero. I’ve always been focused on the writing and business panels and I saw nothing that was of interest to me this year. I went to the Tiptree auction and the new auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara did a great job. She entertained and did the auction her way, and it was great. But she isn’t Ellen Klages (she wasn’t trying to be) and that just pointed out how much has changed.

The good is also the bad, I’m afraid. The GoH speeches were jaw droppingly amazing this year (I think they are pretty much every year). I was blown away by the power of those words, the power that words have to move people. (I’d link to them, but in another dissapointment, I don’t see them on the WisCon site).

At least my blue feelings didn’t last as long this time. I’m back reading and researching, I’m moving forward with my writing which is less and less focused on fantasy. I’m hoping to publish a mainstream novel in the next year and I’m working on a medieval murder mystery series. I’m sure next Memorial Day weekend I’ll think about heading downtown Madison to the Concourse. I’m just not sure I’ll make it all the way in or how I’ll feel afterward.

A Call of Moonhart now available!

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Cover thumbMy new novel, A Call of Moonhart, is available now to purchase through Amazon.com.

Due to popular demand — seriously, I was amazed and gratified at how many people wanted to hold a printed book — a PRINT copy is available as well. If you really want to go old school, in a few weeks, you should be able to go into your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore and request it.

Either version you order should show up on/about May 15th. I hope you enjoy my novel.