Saturday, December 06, 2008

PEACEWEAVER in Progress!

PEACEWEAVER is moving along. It's gratifyng to realize that if I hit a wall in my historical-detail research, there are loads of folks on the 'Net who know a lot about 10th century Wales. I put out a question, and in less time than I dreamed possile, I get a well-reasoned, useful answer.

I've reached the spot in the story where Anmair's husband, his father, and their levies ride out to help Anmair's family resist the usual summertime Viking raids. Someone will not return alive...but who? I don't know yet. All I know is that I wait pacing, like Anmair, to see who will ride back into Mostyn and who will be carried back over the saddle-bow.

As they might've said at Mostyn: bide thee in patience.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Action, Reaction, Life...Stuff Like That

Doing mini-edit on PEACEWEAVER. There's a natural lull in the action. My main character is trying, with more or less success, to settle into her new life as lady of the manor. I don't want this next section to lose impetus, so, hmm: what next shall I do?

I'm tempted, strongly, to let her have it: WHAM! How about a nice Viking raid (this is 973 England, after all)? Some pillage? Burn down the family holding? Or maybe the action should be part of the internecine warfare between her family and her family-in-law?

In fiction, I'm told that the surest way to prevent a Sagging Middle (a thing to be avoided at all costs) is to throw catastrophe after catastrophe at your main characters. I've resisted doing this 'cause I don't write action/adventure, I write romance. But in this young lady's case, I think a Major Challenge, and her reaction to it, would be compellingly consistent with the way people lived in 973.

As support for my fictional endeavor, I'm reading a nonfic book set around the year 1000, called BLOODFEUD. It deals with a certain late Saxon family-with-political crisis and the charges, countercharges, treachery, and murder that resulted. It's been a really good insight into the instability of life in the early middle ages.

Life was tenuous. They dreaded winter because late winter and early spring were the hungry times. Had they spared enough animals from fall slaughter to provide for the spring increase? Had they slaughtered enough animals, put up enough non-meat foodstuffs to last through the cold, till the next harvest?

They dreaded summer because that was the time for war. From my readings I've decided there were maybe 6 weeks all year that early medieval countryside folk might, maybe, feel safe.

Such is my characters' world.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

North Wales, 953...or Is It?

Buzzing comfortably along on my WIP, PEACEWEAVER. Set in Clywd, North Wales, in 953, when Edgar the Peaceable was King in England...

Or was he?

Thought I had my chronology down pat. You historical fans may know how fusstrating this is. You've read swackloads of material in your chosen era. You KNOW this stuff.

Until you stumble upon a fascinating new history book that you didn't already own, set smack-dab in your era of interest. You buy it, read it with interest, and discover YOU'VE GOT YOUR CHRONOLOGY WRONG!


It can't BE 953 Wales if Edgar is king in England. It has to be 973. Gacck! I hate when this happens.

However: better in draft than in edit. Can you imagine the agently phone call: "Um, Deb, you know, hon, Edgar didn't ascend the throne 'til 959. You wanna make some tweaks...?"

How embarrassin' to have someone besides ME catch this!

You folks know, but (psssst): don't tell anybody.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Waiting Game, Part XXIV

We're on our wait yet again. Heard from Publisher #1 about the proposal for PEACEWEAVER. Apparently they like it well enough to see it again next spring, if we haven't sold it by then. Drat! I wanted a deal now...

Did I mention I'm not too good at waiting?

DAMAGES, the full manuscript, is wending its way to my agent for submission. I have good hopes for this story because a publisher contacted ME (not the other way 'round!) and said they liked my voice, and wouldn't we like to send in something for consideration?

You bet your sweet bippy we would. So my matchless agent, Tamela, told me to send her the full printed MS plus proposal. It's in the hands of the (gulp) US Postal Service as we speak, and I hope the publisher likes it well enough to give Tamela a call and me something to rejoice over.

Now, if anyone knows ways, other than chocolate, to ease the waiting time, I'm all ears and available taste buds.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rodent with 'Tude

Humorous Pictures
more animals

You say you needz interruptz me in Revision Pit? You not knowz I wurking on propozzalzzz? No?

Then I send angry rodentz to bitez you...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Except for my DH, you guys are the first to know:

I'm pleased as spiced ale to announce that Sheaf House has offered to publish SEASONS IN THE MIST. SEASONS, as all two of you blog fans will no doubt recollect, is a time-travel romance set (mostly) in 1353 Cornwall.

We're mulling a spring '10 release for it. Due to the awesome nature of Sheaf House's previous covers, I hope & expect a really bodacious cover for this book.

Though I've known about the possibility for some months, my agent advised me to keep mum until released to announce by the publisher. Well, today we all agreed it could come out! As in, SQUEEEE!

Still grinning almost wide enough to split my face.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Home Stretch

Vacation's come and gone--way too fast for my taste! Sometimes I think the best part of getting away is the anticipation.

Work on DAMAGES is going quite well. After a kick in the slats from my crit partner, I realized what I want to do with this is a semi-rewrite before submission. All I have to do is reorder some events in the book, go through one last time (staying focused all the while), and whip it into shape.

Rewriting, though I've done it in the past, is a real challenge for me. Some authors love doing it. That's not how I'm wired together. I think in me, it's a hangover from childhood. I've seen it in my kids: once they WRITE SOMETHING, put it down on paper, it has a life of its own. "Change this," I advise my daughter, "put in some punctuation, tell us his name..." She looks at me like I've gone bonkers. If it's down on paper, it exists as it is. Change it?

I'm thinking that's my mindset. Once I type it in, easy-edit computer function notwithstanding, I tend to get a prejudice to keep it intact.

This isn't to say I don't edit. But on occasion I've been advised to make a love story into a mystery, or change everybody's motivations, or whatever. I keep wanting to respond, "But that's not what happened!"

Once I write it, it lives, somehow. Very difficult to tweak it then. I just thank God I cued into this misguided mindset at all. It took my kids to teach me.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Toiling Onward

A Faithful Reader (hi to all three of you!) reminded me I hadn't posted in ages. I'll rectify that.

First & foremost, thanks to all of your good thoughts & prayers. I am no longer stuck. Instead, I'm working on agent-suggested revisions for the piece, DAMAGES, we want to send to Steeple Hill. I'm also working on editor-suggested revisions to SEASONS IN THE MIST, the time-travel story. I'd tell you who the house is who's interested, but my agent says then I'd have to shoot you.

Work on PEACEWEAVER is also perking along. My crit partner actually likes it! More reason to celebrate.

Next month I'm off to American Christian Fiction Writers' annual conference, along with several of you. I'm very cranked for this event, and as usual, I have to warn myself not to set my expectations too high. That way lies a major bum-out.

In other news, my web site is being nicely redesigned. I had to get a new domain name 'cause the old host played dirty with my old one. So if you get a chance, take a peek at, currently under construction but shaping up to be very cool indeed.

That's it for now. Gotta go write something. Cat Kelly Kinnard says "mip".

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stuck in the Middle With You

Since last post, I've decided to turn more attention to contemporary novels than historicals. That's not to say I won't finish PEACEWEAVER; since that tale's in my head, I most likely will finish it. Just not right away.

So I went back to a story I started 2-3 years ago, called A ROSE IN LATE OCTOBER. I like this story...

So why is it STUCK? Man alive, if I knew that I'd tell ya. I got it to 35K words and it's just sitting there, glaring at me, daring me to find a path for it to travel.

So far that path hasn't revealed itself to me. I told my crit partner I need to glare back, and drink another pot of coffee, before I get an inkling where it should go.

External disaster? No, just did that. Internal gut-gnawing? Did that, too. Up the conflict? I'm thinking yes, though I can't tell which of the Main Characters needs to have his/her anguish-level intensified at this point in the story.

Gaargh! Did I mention I hate when a story sticks somewhere and won't budge?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Where Ya Been So Long?

Been working. Well, that's my excuse, anyway, for not blogging.

It's been an eventful two months since my last entry. I've finished edits on SEASONS IN THE MIST, the medieval time-travel, and started a second medieval romance that doesn't involve time-travel. PEACEWEAVER is going very well. It's set in north Wales in 953, and needless to say, research is a big challenge with this one.

In the interim, also, I've contracted with an awesome agent. Tamela Murray agreed to represent me, and I couldn't be more tickled.

Since I signed with Tamela, another exciting thing happened: an acquisitions editor at a house whose name you'd recognize, contacted me via e-mail. Seems she'd seen excerpts of SEASONS IN THE MIST on Tina Helmuth's THE INK'S NOT DRY critique blog. Though the editor says a time-travel isn't a good fit for their house, she liked my writing style and invited me to send them something!

Will I send them something? You bet your bippy I will. At this writing, Tamela and I are planning what to send them, and whether I concentrate on contemporary romances or historical. Since I have more books finished in contemporary than historical, we've decided on the former.

I reserve the right, however, to morph into a historical writer at any future moment.

So things are perking along, and I have lots of hope for good things to come.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Good News for the SF Fans

I always like to cyber-party when a new author breaks in, particularly in the science fiction realm. There is never enough!

That fact makes me happy to announce that my cyber-bud Sharolyn Wells has sold her first novel, PLYMOUTH COLONY II, to release March 14 from E Treasures Publishing (

Here's the blurb: "Earth is gone—destroyed by a group of lizard-like aliens called the Novari. Before they send their meteor ships to destroy Earth, another group of humanoid aliens arrive—the Kelkani. They will save some of Earth’s young people. Are they doing it for themselves or is the group of Elitists doing it for their own reasons?"

Sounds like a winner to me.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

They'll Take Anything

On chat with my wonderful editor (two houses, five books), Michelle. We got to talking about the Small Press Paradigm. We wonder whether the small press sales you rack up are an asset to the agent-hunt? or possibly even a liability?

See, I'm not hearing it specifically from agents, but by and large there's a perception out there that if you're published by a small press, it means automatically that your work is substandard, because small presses are all the same. They will publish anything sent to them. They do no screening nor do they do any editing. They put out rubbish, so that's why it's necessary to screen small press titles out of some review sites, many award competitions, RWA type contests, and the like.

This is rubbish. Small presses have standards. They DO screen the fiction that is sent to them. They reject a high percentage of the submitted material. They DO edit. There is nothing basic that prevents small press books from competing on any playing field you choose--save the perception out there that these are second class work that must be suppressed at all costs.

So, Virginia, do not send a small press your 600,000 word epic fantasy or your angst-ridden memoir. They're looking for better things.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Searching for a Mood

SEASONS IN THE MIST is semi-officially, sort of, done. I finished the final edits this past week, and put it to bed 'til I feel like re-reading it for more edits, or 'til it sells, or 'til an agent wants the full manuscript. Sometimes when you work on a book it starts to pall, after a while. So I've put this book to bed and I've started the next one.

PEACEWEAVER will be a medieval also, set in a time period earlier than that of SEASONS. It's set in north Wales, amid two warring clans who try to unite to repel the Saxon and Norse incursions, and use a young girl as a pawn in their search for an end to the warfare. I really like the idea, I know exactly where it's going and who the characters are.

What I'm after is a "feel" for the time. Little removed from the Dark Ages, I'm sure 958 Wales had its own tone and flavor, different from 14th century England. My first five pages lack the flavor. I'll tweak, edit, and up the emotion and detail until that taste is very apparent, even from page one. But at this point it's frustrating when I know I ALMOST have it...but not.

Wish me luck on the new project!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Waiting Game, Part Twenty-Two

Having finished SEASONS IN THE MIST, and been told that I need an agent for this one ("this could be your breakout book!"), I sent proposals to two agents this week, via e-mail. Now it's waiting time.

Did I mention I don't do waiting very well? My options are: 1) chew nails; 2) clean house; 3) finish edits on the last few pages of SEASONS; 4) start PEACEWEAVER, the next book. I have the story roughly in my head, along with some very romantic twists and turns, and my main character's name has come to me. I don't know my historical setting, though, as in what year? what part of Britain? Gotta have those things. Anmaire (my main character) will have to compose her soul in patience 'til I know where she belongs.

Forget option 3. Dust is a wood preservative.

Did I mention I hate waiting?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why Cats Say "Blurt" and Other Mysteries

Cats do say "blurt" not "meow". Robert A. Heinlein says so, and that's good enough for me.

Now--why do I mention this on a writing blog? Because there has been some talk about "old-fashioned" writing on some of the writers' loops. Old-fashioned in this case can mean practically anything--writers who are in their 60s trying to give their 20-something characters authentic voices; Jane Austen's style as opposed to modern; and historical writers attempting to get their characters talking right for their age and still be understandable to a modern audience.

Always, when writing in another era, there will be something lost in translation. My just-finished WIP is a case in point. In the 14th century, the upper classes spoke either middle-English or Norman French. I can't write in either language--it wouldn't communicate. Even if my skills were up to it, it wouldn't work. Writing is, after all, primarily about communicating.

That said, my characters can't sound 21st century. Not having been there in 1353 to hear how folks spoke, the best I can do is an approximation of a 21st century author's guess at medieval usage and speech patterns.

(I refused throughout the book to use 'tis. Just my prejudices coming through. I'd rather throw in an obscure French term, or even Cornish, than use that tired old contraction. To me, it shouts "Hey, this is a piece of historical fiction and I'm too lazy to guess how they REALLY talked, so here's 'tis' to tell you so!")

Now, some folks are not going to like the guesses and choices I've made. That's fine. If they get the gist of the story, I figure I've done 99% of my job. If my cat says "blurt" instead of "meow," I hope you will enjoy my story anyway, and forgive the fact that my choices aren't quite what you would've chosen.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

All Done!

Yay! I got the first draft done on SEASONS IN THE MIST, my (probably unsellable) medieval time-travel romance. My goal was to have it done by the end of the year, and I wrote "the end" on January 1. Can't get much closer than that!

I'll take 2-4 weeks to do the second-draft, which for this book means a complete read-through, spotting goofs, gaffes, "huh?" places, and all of my myriad bad writing-habits. Then I assess for story, add more content as necessary, and consider it pretty well done.

Then the scary part...sending it out into that Big, Bad Publishing World. Don't ask me if I look forward to this step in the process.

But I feel as though I've told one of the stories of my heart, and finishing it feels really, really good.