'Twas the night before book release, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a 'mangled, hedge-born miscreant'.
So far, one of the most challenging aspects of writing a historical tale has been selecting/inventing age-appropriate cuss words for every day medieval usage. (Book two has proved particularly vexing in this regard.)To celebrate the imminent release of 'Tales of a Traveler', I'm running a wee competition. Simply click on the picture, create yourself an awesome insult, then head on over to my FB author page.
If you haven't already done so, give me a 'Like' (pretty please) and leave your insult on my wall. The creator of the most inventive insult will win a promotional ebook of 'Traveler' absolutely FREE!
As my RL friends all know, I'm very keen on draughty old ruins. But just lately, I've been wondering what first sparked my love affair with castles.
I think it all started on a Saturday afternoon, way back in the mists of time when my dad took me to visit his aged aunt who lived on the Manor Estate in Sheffield. (Agnes was her name. She had a silver plastic sofa that stuck to the back of my bare, sweaty legs, and she took snuff! Those are my lasting memories of this lady.)
Anyway, directly opposite Aunt Agnes's house were the sprawling ruins of an old building.
Dad told me this was part of Manor Lodge, and that Mary Queen of Scots had once 'done time' there as a prisoner back in the 1500's. Boom! For me, that was it.
Mary Queen of Scots! In the middle of a run-down (back then, anyway) housing estate in Sheffield? That was enough to fire up my young imagination, and that was the moment I first fell in love.
Well, discounting Captain James T. Kirk, of course, but that's another story!
(Picture 2 shows the well-preserved turret house that stands on the grounds of Manor Lodge. A quick Google assures me that the ruins are now receiving much more care and attention than they got back in Aunt Agnes's day. Thank goodness. :))
I'm a little over excited tonight. Why? Because next week, on the kids Easter break, we're spending a couple of days in York.
Hey--I'm a medieval babe at heart. How could I resist a trip to the famous Minster? And this place is old, people, even going by Blighty standards. Did you know there has been a church of some description on this spot since the year 627!!!
Of course, I'll have to prise my son away from the National Railway Museum first. He's keen to see the famous 'Mallard' and a replica of Stephenson's 'Rocket'.
And then there's the Jorvik Centre and a dozen other 'must see's. *sigh*
Once upon a time, my night-time scribblings were my 'dirty little secret', something to be kept hidden; something I did because I just couldn't help myself. Sound familiar?
My writerly 'coming out' has been a gradual process. The first step was joining Critique Circle--a closed, online writing group. Hand on heart, I never made a better decision.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by writers, hundreds of them, from all over the globe. Wonderful, talented people who welcomed me in, then helped illuminate my appalling self delusion. I wasn't a member of CC for long before I had an epiphany.
My writing sucked. Like a Dyson. Yes, it was that bad.
By critiquing and being critiqued, I learned about grammar, PoV's, dangling participles, comma splices and the like. Well meaning people introduced me to 'The Rules'--a massive list of 'Thou Shalt's, and 'Thou Shalt Not's. It was utterly mind-boggling.
At first, like every good newbie, I religiously applied each piece of contradictory advice to my own writing until I was bogged down with the stuff, constipated by knowledge, terrified of a thrashing by 'The Rules' police, afraid to move in case I put a foot wrong.
Then I started listening to myself again. Armed with what I knew, I began to disregard the rules. To play around and have fun again. To be me.
In my quest for perfection, my 'voice' had got lost in a sea of a thousand other writers. For me, writer's block was a lifeline that saved me from drowning. It made me question what I was doing.
So was the point of this post to dismiss 'The Rules'--and before I'm even published? Not at all. What I am saying is this: 'The Rules' are like 'The Pirates' Code'. Guidelines. Be familiar with them, but don't treat them as gospel. They shift and change like sand dunes.
Secondly, keep in mind that writer's block isn't always the enemy. In my experience, it's my sub-conscious trying to tell me something. All I have to do is stop fighting it and listen.
My first novel 'Tales of a Traveler' (Book One: Hemlock), will be released towards the end of April. I'm so excited to be able to share my new banner with you. What do you think? Isn't it shiny? Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics made it for me. Such a talented man.
I'll post the book blurb later on this week, along with the full cover reveal. If you like your romance with a hint of time travel, a dash of history, and a sprinkling of adventure, Hemlock might be the book for you.