Tag Archives: A Wasted Land

Indulging in a research trip to England: Salisbury and Amesbury

When I was invited to a wedding in England, I figured I might as well add a couple of days on to the trip to visit some of the sites where the novel I am currently working on, A Wasted Land, take place. I decided to base that part of the trip in Salisbury, because it was closest to two of the main places I wanted to see: Amesbury and the hillfort there (for the first time), and Old Sarum (for the second). It also isn’t far from two other sites I was particularly interested in visiting: Winchester (Venta) and Silchester (Calleva).

For the most part, the trip to Salisbury went smoothly, except for the very first leg. For some reason, my plane sat at the gate for about fifteen minutes. Since I only had 50 minutes to change flights in Frankfurt, I was already imagining how I would work things out when I finally got to England and where I would have to spend the night, since with a later flight I probably wouldn’t make it to Salisbury at anything approaching a decent time. But with no line at passport control and a lot of hurrying, I made it to my gate while they were still boarding.

The rest of the journey was a breeze. London City Airport is nice and small, the lines for customs were short, and the trip via DLR and Tube to Waterloo Station was easy. I got my Britrail pass validated in no time, and actually managed to get a train earlier to Salisbury than I had originally hoped, which gave me time to do some shopping on my way to my AirBnB rental.

My rental was in a quaint little house not far from the center of town and the cathedral. The first evening, I walked there and took some pictures of the cathedral from the outside, since it was already closed.

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral

The next day, I rented a bike and rode to Amesbury, the site of “Vespasion’s Camp” — Caer Emrys in The Pendragon Chronicles. The theory goes that Amesbury got its name from Ambrosius (Aurelianus). In Welsh, a descendant of the old Britsh tongue, Ambrosius is “Emrys.” There are a number of place names in Britain that are derived from a combination of a Celtic name and a Germanic description which has replaced the original British. Thus Amesbury is “Emrys’ burg” — the fort of Emrys. Cadbury is another such name, most probably the “fort of Cador” (or Cadwy). In Yseult and Shadow of Stone, Cadbury is still Din Draithou, but in A Wasted Land, people are beginning to refer to it as Cador’s fort.

While I went to Cadbury many years ago when I was researching Yseult, I had not yet been to Amesbury. The site of Vespasian’s Camp or Caer Emrys is now private property and not accessible to the public. So I rode around it and took a couple of pictures from whatever vantage points I could find.

Caer Emrys
Vespasian’s Camp near Amesbury (Caer Emrys)

From there, I continued on my bike to Woodhenge, a prehistoric monument with much the same design as Stonehenge, only in wood. Of course, all that was left when archeologists found it were the post holes where the wooden columns had once stood. These have been filled with short wooden markers to give visitors a feel for the site.

Woodhenge
Woodhenge

My ride also took me past the back side of Old Sarum, but I will talk more about that in a later post, when I go into the site in more detail.

The ride back was slow. I haven’t been on that long of a bike ride in years. But at least I beat the rain. 🙂

Facing the enemy for #WIPpet Wednesday

I’m crazy tired right now — watched the US – Belgium game last night, which went late, and I have only just now finished packing for my flight to London tomorrow. But at least I *am* done now, and since I know I will not be posting next week — Wednesday is the Wedding! — I figure before I trundle off to bed for my much deserved rest, I will post another snippet from A Wasted Land for WIPpet Wednesday. My math for today, 7/2/14, is to add up all the digits, giving me 14. So here are 14 short paragraphs from the same scene as last week. Taliesin’s plan has worked, and they have been called into the presence of Cerdic, the enemy they went to Venta to spy on:

Cerdic called Taliesin forward, the ostensible head of their troupe of musicians.
Taliesin bowed in front of the King of the South. “How may we serve you, Lord?”
The corners of Cerdic’s mouth turned up in a surprisingly charming smile. “Serve me? Is that what you want to do?”
“Certainly. That is what bards and minstrels do.”
“And do you know where you are, bard?”
“Why, we are in Venta, Lord. Our most recent stop was Leucomagus, and before that, Cunetio. In Cunetio, our audience was generous, in Leucomagus not so much, so we decided to continue on.”
“And do you know who rules in Venta?”
“You?” Taliesin ventured.
A wave of barely repressed chuckles could be heard around the room. Kustennin found himself in awe of Taliesin’s spontaneous acting ability.
Cerdic shook his head, and his lips twitched — it appeared he too was repressing laughter. His son Cynric was grinning as well.
Kustennin gazed under his eyelashes at the British leader of a largely Saxon army. Arthur’s former general appeared to possess a rare combination of character traits — ruthless ambition and the ability to laugh at himself. But that might well explain much of Cerdic’s talent for drawing men to his cause.
You must shield your thoughts more, came Taliesin’s whisper in his mind. I feel the presence of magic in this room.

This time tomorrow, I should be much closer to Winchester / Venta, where this scene takes place — Salisbury, to be precise:

Salisbury Cathedral by John Constable
Salisbury Cathedral.

Depending on how much time I spend running around the Wilds of Wiltshire and the surrounding area, I may try to blog a bit about the research half of my trip while I’m there, so watch this space. And I think I’ll also try to get to Stonehenge again, just for the fun of it. 🙂

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Singing a song of Arthur for #WIPpet Wednesday

I skipped #WIPpet Wednesday entirely last week, knowing I just didn’t have the energy for visiting lots of blogs. I think I’m slowly shaking my lethargy now, and I will try to be a good fellow blogger this week. 🙂

For this excerpt, I’m returning to A Wasted Land and Kustennin, the new Dux Bellorum of Britain. When I last posted an excerpt from his story, he and Taliesin were posing as minstrels to scout out Venta / Winchester, the capital of Cerdic, their enemy in the recent wars. This snippet follows shortly thereafter. I am giving you 25 sentences for the 25th day of the month:

They wandered between the stalls until they found an empty spot where they could begin to play for coin or gifts of food.
Taliesin pulled the strap of his lute around so that the instrument was draped comfortably in front of him and began to pick out a melody on the strings. The other two soldiers who were of their party got out their own instruments, a flute and a lyre. Kustennin was still taking the tambourine and the small drum out of his bag when Taliesin launched into a ballad dedicated to Arthur, Dux Bellorum — and spurring Kustennin to try to reach him with his mind.
Do you know what you’re doing, Taliesin? This is not a city to sing Arthur’s praises!
Of course I know what I’m doing, Young King. We want to gain an audience with Cerdic, do we not? What better way than to praise his enemy!
It will get us thrown out of the city, more like. Assuming we survive the ordeal.

All the while they were arguing in their minds, Taliesin sang of how Arthur defeated the famous Frankish king Chlodowech and saved Roman Britain. People began to gather in front of them, dressed in both British and Saxon garments, and murmuring amongst themselves.
Come, Kustennin, add a little rhythm to the ballad. And smile!
Kustennin knew his expression must be more of a grimace than a grin, but he dutifully began to shake the tambourine and hit it against the heel of his hand, just as he’d been practicing in recent days.
A woman with copper hair stepped up to him. “In these parts, that is not a wise choice as a song to sing. I think you should tell your friend to stop.”
He shrugged. “He’s the leader of our group.”
By now, a number of the spectators were clapping to the rhythm Kustennin beat out, a marching beat to verses of riding in the defense of Diablintis. A battle Kustennin remembered well, a decisive victory during their campaign in Gaul.
And now here he was taking orders from a bard. Kustennin shook his head, smiling. If they came out of this alive, this trip might go far to helping him get his sense of humor back.

Minstrels on stage

Leaving you all with a picture of minstrels at the Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market. 🙂

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Reintroducing Guinevere / Ginevra for #WIPpet Wednesday

It’s been a mostly good week writing wise for me, with an effortless 1,000 word day last Thursday. The last couple of days have been a bit slower, what with lots of garden work on the weekend, and then the news that my friend Jay Lake has been admitted to hospice. That’s been eating my brain a bit. 😦

Anyway, back to writing. I mentioned a while back that I was doing some of the exercises in the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook right now to flesh out the middle of A Wasted Land and help with my focus for the novel. While working on a completely unrelated exercise, I realized I really need a pov character back in Caer Leon (Caerleon), while Kustennin and his buddies are duking it out with Cerdic on the border of the British-held lands. I just can’t have all the events going on in the area of present-day Wales being brought to them via messenger.

And then it occurred to me that I have a main character from the last book, Shadow of Stone, not far away: Arthur’s widow Ginevra, who is in a monastery there in penance for her sins.

Guinever / Gwenhwyfar / Ginevra

After banishing Ginevra to her monastery along with most of my predecessors, I wasn’t intending to bring her back, but as soon as the idea occurred to me, my mind was racing. I don’t know yet what exactly her character arc will be and how it will fit into the rest of the events of the novel, but I’m having a great time figuring it out. 🙂 It’s fresh off my fingers, though, so hasn’t been though any editing passes. I intend to make it the second chapter, after Kustennin and Bedwyr inspect the ruins. So please, be as brutal as you care to be! I’m particularly interested in feedback on whether I’m providing too much backstory all at once.

My math today: 5 + (2+8=10) / 5+1 = 6, six paragraphs from the first scene with Ginevra:

Ginevra hurried along the path from the house of women to the abbot’s residence. Spring flowers bloomed along the pathway, and several pupils from the school were working in the herb garden. Most of the buildings of the monastery had originally been part of villa built before the Roman troops pulled out of Britain, and the foundations were of massive stone in the Roman style. But the site had been sacked in raids by Pictish, Erainn and Saxon warriors during the reign of the legendary British high king, Ambrosius Aurelianus, after which it had been abandoned for many years. It was not rebuilt again until Arthur enlisted his cousin Illtud to reestablish the school on the grounds of Cor Teudwys, the “college of Theodosius”. Many of the original Roman structures in the central complex of buildings could be saved; what couldn’t be fixed was torn down and the stones used to repair less damaged buildings. Destroyed roofs were replaced with wood and thatch.
The house of women stood outside of the main complex and was a newer building of wood in the style of a long house, simple, functional, less massive. Ginevra didn’t mind. She didn’t pine for her former life, which had been so full of selfish mistakes. She welcomed discomfort: the cold of winter and the heat of summer that crept much more quickly through walls of wood than walls of stone; her simple room with its simple bed; the many manual tasks she had to perform throughout the day.
Ginevra had found refuge in Illtud’s monastery after the battle of Camlann. At first, it was very nearly an imprisonment, with at least two British warriors always on site, monitoring her movements, ensuring she would not run away to some imagined freedom. When the first snow fell, Illtud had chased them away, saying that if Arthur’s widow fled now, it would surely be her death sentence. In the spring, the guards had failed to return.
Since then, Ginevra had spent much of her time in her small room in the house of women, where female guests would stay when visiting their relatives, or women were lodged who came to Illtud’s church for shelter. With time, she had become what amounted to administrator in the house of women. One thing she knew how to do was manage a household, and this was not so different — only without servants. The women had to do the work themselves, cleaning, cooking, harvesting, bartering for what else they needed at the local market, just as the boys and men in Illtud’s school did.
Someone had to organize that work, however. For that, Ginevra’s experience managing hill-fort and town house had come in handy. By necessity, she had also begun to learn how to tend the communal gardens and heal common ailments using the herbs grown there. The last struck her as particularly ironic — it had been Ginevra’s insistence that Yseult tend her ailing son with her knowledge of herbs and medicines that had nearly led to Yseult’s murder at the hands of Medraut. But even after Yseult told her the fate she had seen in the minds of Medraut’s guards, Ginevra had refused to believe that her new consort could possibly intend to kill her friend.
And so the evil she had ignorantly unleashed continued unchecked — until the Battle of Camlann, where so many had died.

A little background regarding my sources for the novels of the Pendragon Chronicles. There is no Lancelot in my tales because I am trying to avoid the inventions of the French writers of the 13th century and later. Lancelot is one of those, a new character added in the Age of Chivalry. I’ve tried to stay closer to the Welsh legends of Arthur and the first “historical” accounts, such as Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth. I’ve also tried to avoid French versions of the names, which wouldn’t fit very well in my 5th and 6th century setting. For that reason, I chose Ginevra, the Latin version of the name. It is in the Celtic Arthurian tradition that I found the tale of Arthur’s wife running off with his nephew Medraut / Mordred rather than his champion. So if you’re a huge Lancelot / Guinevere fan, my books probably aren’t for you. 🙂

Also, for those who find it odd there are women at a monastery school, the strict separation of the sexes was not instated until the high middle ages. Nor was it a closed system where those in the monastery were cut off from everyday life. You can read more about Celtic Christianity here, if you’re interested.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

A “troupe of players” for #WIPpet Wednesday, and a progress report

Since getting back from Spain, I continue to make steady progress on my fiction again. On the weekend, I finished a short story, and promptly turned around and got back into A Wasted Land. My word count since last Wednesday comes to 3700 words, a lot more than I’ve managed in new fiction in a long time! I think I will soon go back and revise some of my goals for the quarter. 🙂

BTW, this will be my 300th post on this blog! 😀

On to the true business of the day — WIPpet Wednesday! For today’s date, I simply added 5 + 2 + 1, and am giving you 8 paragraphs from A Wasted Land. This scene comes shortly after the last one. Kustennin and Taliesin are now entering Venta as a troupe of traveling minstrels:

When Kustennin and his troupe of “players” had been let through the gates, the city began to feel more foreign after all. It might look like a British city built by the Romans, but on any number of street corners, it sounded Saxon. In addition to the familiar lilt of British and Latin, the guttural sounds of Germanic tongues could be heard just as often — a jumble of British and Saxon dialects.
Within the city walls, buildings were springing up in every available space, including on the cobblestones of former roads, in the lee of thick Roman walls. At the same time, room had also been made for pens for animals, buildings that had fallen into disrepair cannibalized for stone fences.
As they made their way through the streets, Kustennin began to notice little things that added to his sense of foreignness. Many of the women wore veils over their hair, held in place by circlets or pins. Veils were a rare sight in British towns, except at weddings and funerals. Whenever he saw one of the unusual conical shaped helmets of the Saxon warriors, often decorated with the figure of an animal on top, it was hard for him to maintain his peaceful facade as a member of a troupe of traveling players.
Taliesin laid a hand on his arm. “I suggest you concentrate on the women’s perfume,” he murmured softly so that only Kustennin could hear. “You never know when you will come across someone whose perceptions are more pronounced than those of most.”
Kustennin nodded, and tried to erect a wall in his mind as his mother and Taliesin had taught him. Concentrating on the smells around him proved to be a very effective method. Not only perfumes and soap and sweat; also the smell of a hearty stew from a nearby tavern, a herd of goats in a cleared field next to the street, a peat fire not far away to ward of the first chill of autumn in the air. The street where they walked was in good repair, and the hooves of horses clopped on the cobblestones. Kustennin’s legs were sore from the long walk from where they had left their horses; he wasn’t used to traveling on foot such distances, and very different muscles were needed for walking compared to riding.
Taliesin nudged his elbow. “We are nearing the forum, my friend. I hope you remember your role.”
“Dance and drum.”
The bard chuckled. “Good enough! And if you can bring yourself to sing, I would be delighted.”

King Arthur's Round Table in Winchester (Venta), Wikipedia
King Arthur’s Round Table in Winchester, formerly Venta Belgarum

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Some hard truths about writer’s block

Chuck Wendig posted a great article on writer’s block today, “Writer’s block might be…” If you haven’t read it yet, I thoroughly recommend it — as long as you don’t mind his regular use of four-letter words, that is. 🙂

This problem that “writer’s block might be” particularly struck home with me:

Doubt In What You’re Writing

Problem: This thing you’re working on just ain’t working. It’s not writer’s block. It’s the material. Something wonky is hiding in the various gears and dongles of your wordsmithy. You halt because you instinctively recognize that you’re charging forth into an uncertain reality, as if you went back in time and stepped on a butterfly and now you’re back and something feels wrong and you can’t tell what it is …

Solution: A few ways to go here. First, say “f*ck it,” keep writing. Act like nothing is wrong. Persevere and write through it and eventually the solution may present itself. Or: stop writing forward and start looking backward. Flip through and see if you went wrong somewhere, if there’s some moment in the story where you feel like you took it in a wrong direction, or see if you can spot a plot-hole whose heretofore-unseen absence of logic has been haunting you like a gibbering ghost rising from past pages. Or: take a good long long at the story. Is this really the story you wanted to tell? Is this your heart, minced into narrative, or is this the story someone else wants you to tell? Sometimes writing to a market or to another person’s expectations feels unnatural, like we’re wearing someone else’s underwear. It’s halting, jarring, unpleasant — and it can lead to creative blockage. Here, I’m afraid the solution is to go and write the thing you really want to write. The thing that speaks to your storytelling soul. The thing that is your blood on the page.

This seems to be a part of my problem at the moment. I know there is a spark of enthusiasm in A Wasted Land, a central idea that made me start it in the first place, but at the moment that enthusiasm seems to be drowning in the daily word-makery. I had the same problem for a while with Shadow of Stone, My solution was to sit down with pen and paper and “talk to myself” for a while, ask myself what it was about the idea that originally grabbed me and made me want to tell the story. At the moment, I’m doing much the same thing for A Wasted Land — and coming up with new scenes and ideas in the process. So it seems to be working. 🙂

Another problem that Chuck points out is also contributing to my present slow progress, I think, “Uncertainty About Where The Story Is Going.” I do have most of the big plot points for A Wasted Land mapped out, but things in between are looking very fuzzy, and I’m not quite sure what to put there. Working on that as well, while I try to regain my enthusiasm.

There’s one thing that’s also messing with my drive to write at the moment that Chuck doesn’t mention:

Lack of Success

And no, this is not the same thing as Fear of Failure. I know I can write. I’ve been published traditionally both in novels and short fiction, I’ve been nominated for and won awards, the books and story collections I’ve self-published have gotten lots of good reviews, none of them from my grandmother (I haven’t had a grandmother since I was sixteen). None are from any other family members either.

But the thing is, when I first started out as an indie writer, and my books were selling hundreds of copies a month, that started a wonderful feedback loop that inspired me to write more.

When the marketing strategies I was using stopped working and my sales dropped more and more, that sent me into a downward motivational spiral. Of course, it was complicated by the Big Translation Project, which left me with less time for writing. But knowing I have to relearn the whole marketing gig before my books start selling again is discouraging. In 2012, I had tons of drive and enthusiasm for my writing. In 2014 it’s more like, yeah, okay, let’s knock another 500 words out — I’m not a writer if I don’t write, right?

The empty brain

What my brain looks like on a negative feedback loop. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.)

Sales, praise, good reviews: it might sound like a pretty superficial need. And “need” is probably too strong a word anyway. I’m still writing, after all. I’m pretty good at shrugging off bad reviews too. My philosophy has always been that I’m writing the books that I would most want to read myself. Nonetheless, knowing I don’t have much of an audience I’m writing for besides me is a bit frustrating at times.

So what about the rest of you? What’s your biggest problem in getting motivated to write?

Returning to #WIPpet Wednesday — and A Wasted Land

I’ve missed a few posts, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. For those who didn’t see my report, I was at the most recent Villa Diodati workshop in southern Spain. It was the perfect thing to do after finishing the big translation to recharge my writing batteries. In the week since I flew back, I’ve returned to a wonderfully regular writing routine of at least 500 new words a day. Eventually I will probably want to aim for more, but right now, I just want to ease myself back into the good habits I once had. I also want to experiment with how much I can do while simultaneously getting back into the marketing and publishing groove. I have some thoughts on that which I will save for another post.

Right now, I’m working on two projects:

1) I’ve returned to A Wasted Land, and am analyzing what I have, as well as brainstorming and writing new scenes. For that, I’m using Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. I’ve found it useful before when I reach the point in a manuscript where I pretty much have the complete plot arc, but lots of stuff in the middle is mushy. I like the workbook a lot better than the book proper because it’s very hands on with lots of exercises for how to strengthen your characters and plot. It was especially helpful when I was at about this point in Shadow of Stone, and the whole thing felt like a disorganized mess. Here’s hoping it will help me make something out of the disorganized mess of AWL as well. 🙂

2) I’m working on an SF story collab with Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, one of my fellow Villa Diodati writers. We’ve collaborated before, and although we have yet to sell that story, we work well together and we decided to give it another whirl.

For WIPpet Wednesday, I will give you another excerpt from A Wasted Land, since that seems to be fairly popular with the Wippeteers. Easy math again: 5 + 14 = 19. So here are nineteen sentences from the same scene of the last excerpt. Kustennin has just suggested a scouting party to Venta, and Taliesin said they could go as a troupe of minstrels:

“Consider,” Taliesin continued. “If we travel to Venta as players and entertainers, there will be no need to hide and sneak. We can walk around the city in broad daylight, even play for the soldiers — perhaps even Cerdic himself.”
Kustennin saw Taliesin glance around at the others in the great hall. Yseult, Cador, and Bedwyr were strangely quiet. Finally, Cador broke the silence. “That disguise can be very effective. We used it once ourselves.”
His mother rose and picked Riona up from her father’s lap. “I think it’s time I finally put your little sister to bed. Good night.”
“Good night,” the rest of them murmured.
“It was after Drystan’s death,” Bedwyr added.
“Ah,” Taliesin said. “Forgive me. That was a part of the legend I didn’t know.”
Kustennin rubbed his eyes with thumb and forefinger, realizing the bard had just picked up additional details from the past by delving into the mind of someone present. Kustennin could have done so as well, but he had little interest in seeing into the minds of others. It was enough to see their actions — he didn’t want to also see their thoughts and understand them from the inside.
“We sought out Marcus Cunomorus, and I killed him in a fight,” Bedwyr continued relentlessly. For a moment all were quiet again.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Translation finished! And once again my writing brain is working. :)

I finished the Big Translation Project today, woo hoo! Of course, it once again took longer than I expected: not only had I forgotten about the Acknowledgments and the Historical Note, I underestimated how much research I would have to do for the history, to find out what the common German terms were for various events, battles, and historical figures. It was fun, though, and I learned a lot I hadn’t known before. Take the Massacre of Verden, for example — fascinating stuff!

The translated book isn’t FINISHED finished yet — my husband still has to read through it for me. On this project, I was translating into German, and it’s a lot tougher that way around than into your native language, believe me. (I’ll post more about the project when we’re closer to actually publishing it.)

But even just finishing the translation of the novel proper took a big load off. For the first time in months, I found myself daydreaming about scenes in A Wasted Land. I can hardly tell you how happy that makes me. Rather than mulling about the translation, my own story worlds are starting to repopulate my mind. 🙂

My only real creative writing progress this week was jotting down the ideas for those scenes, as well as writing in my notebook (paper), planning which writing projects to tackle next, now that I have a bit more time and a few more brain cells again. Obviously, I have to get back to A Wasted Land, since it has started bugging me. On the writing business front, I also need to finally get Island of Glass published — and after Recontact has gone through the Villa Diodati workshop, that as well.

Those will be my main emphasis in coming weeks. Once I’ve had a bit more time to contemplate and organize, I will get more specific about upcoming writing and business goals. But for now — relief!

Hope everyone had a great week. 🙂

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

I was recently tagged to take part in the “Writing Process Blog Tour” by the lovely and talented K. L. Schwengel. This particular “meme” (as these things are referred to nowadays) is about authors sharing something about your writing process by answering four questions. In turn, we pass the torch to other authors. This way, it spreads like wildfire. When I googled “Writing Process Blog Tour” I got almost 24,000,000 hits. 🙂

Anyway, here’s my own contribution to the meme:

1) What am I working on?

Right now I have two main projects going:
A Wasted Land, the third novel in my Pendragon Chronicles series that started with Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur. This novel revolves around Yseult’s son Kustennin and the fate of Britain after the Battle of Camlann, when former alliances begin to fall apart and the Saxon kingdoms on the fringes of Britain are growing stronger again. I’ve been working on this one for over a year now, since the publication of Yseult and Shadow of Stone — and a number of readers started asking for more — but for some reason, it’s still not completely coming together for me.
– Final revisions for Island of Glass, a YA novella. The novella tells the story of Chiara, a young glassmaker of Murano, who makes glass shoes for a prince of Venice to help save her uncle from prison. But the magic works in a different way than she had imagined…
– At any give time, I also have several other projects in the works. Right now that includes revising a novella I wrote with Jay Lake for publication, Recontact, as well as brainstorming further works in the worlds of Island of Glass and Looking Through Lace.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Anyone brings their own experience, their own way of looking at the world to what they write. Not only that, we each have different priorities, different interests, and different kinds of stories that move us the most. Any author who writes out of their own experience and interests is going to produce distinctive work, work that is recognizable in some way.

5th century Britain
One of my passions is for historical maps and what they signify. Make of that what you will. 🙂

For me, a couple of the interests that probably distinguish my work is my interest in literature, politics, linguistics, and cultural differences in general. For example, there is a lot of big picture cultural conflict in my Arthurian novels, Yseult and Shadow of Stone, probably more than is generally common in that genre. Or take my science fiction novellas in the Looking Through Lace series: they revolve around the linguistic and cultural misunderstandings of a first contact mission.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write the books I would want to read, it’s as simple as that. My books and short stories contain the things that move me: events that break my heart, topics that get my back up or that I’m passionate about, my fears and my dreams.
I tend to package those passions in the genres of science fiction and fantasy because those are the genres I most enjoy reading. I have enough contemporary in everyday life. What I read and what I write is somewhere beyond or apart from that.

4) How does my writing process work?

Before I start writing a novel or short story, I usually do a lot of brainstorming and pre-writing in longhand on scrap paper and in cheap, sprial-bound notebooks. I’ve tried to use those beautiful Paperblanks notebooks for the purpose, but they’re too intimidating. I guess in order to free my playful brain, I need something that looks like it can be thrown away if it’s crap.
Once I’ve worked out the basic details of my world, my characters, and my plot, and have started playing with ideas for scenes to go with all of that, then I will start writing, jumping around here and there in the timeline as more scene ideas and plot twists occur to me. I don’t have everything mapped out from the moment I start to write, but neither can I start without any inkling of where the story is going to go. At the very least, I need to know the ending, so I will know what to shoot for.

An now, the folks who will be answer these question next! I did write three other writers, but one didn’t respond. Without further ado, here are my two “followers” who will be posting next week:

Shah Wharton: Shah loves fiction; horror, paranormal mystery, dark fantasy, and sci-fi are her favourites, although she also enjoys dark comedy, some romance, and an occasional young adult fantasy. She also writes poetry (two published in anthologies), short stories (one published), and ghost writes fiction as a freelancer.

Shah studied psychology, hypnotherapy, and counselling eons ago and once worked in a social work capacity with children, women with mental health issues and the homeless until her own mental health issues began to encroach on her abilities in 2005. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and speaks freely on her blog about how bipolar disorder has impacted her life.

As an infant, Shah’s father taught her to appreciate the written word through poetry. Now you’ll usually find her immersed in a story while slurping tea, cuddled up with her little family. Shah lives with her huge German Shepherd and her husband, anywhere between Dubai and United Kingdom.

Outside of reading and writing, Shah enjoys theatre, movies, zombies, varied music from old jazz to rock, travel, great food … and dogs.

Adrian J. Smith, or “AJ” as she is often called, is a part-time writer with an epic imagination, sharp wit, and kind heart that gets her into a bit of trouble when it comes to taking in all the neighborhood stray cats. Being obsessed with science fiction, Smith often goes off on tangents about the space-time continuum. She is also a part-time lunatic with a secretive past. It’s been rumored that she was once a spy for the government, but anyone who has gotten close enough to know the truth has never lived to tell the tale. When traveling around the world on various classified tasks, Smith requires the following be provided: buffalo jerky, mimosas, and eighty-six pennies. This is all we know about the reclusive woman.

Shadow of Stone now available on B&N etc., and a snippet for my #WIPpet

First a confession: the weather in Central Europe is much too good right now for blogging. We’ve been spending all our spare time at the piece of property we have among the vineyards not far from our house. S.O. has been pruning trees, and I have been digging up weeds and replacing them with flower bulbs, mostly lilies. But now the crocuses are blooming, and some are even on the way out.

Spring in Central Europe

For me, keeping up with the translation and the revisions in hard copy of A Wasted Land take precedence over writing blog posts. Which is why I haven’t shown up here in my home in Cyberspace for a while. Despite the gardening, I do continue to move forward with the most important stuff. And as I mentioned last week, with some prodding from a Goodreads reader, I finally uploaded Shadow of Stone to other venues besides Amazon. I am happy to announce that it is now available:

On Barnes and Noble

On Kobo

On the iTunes store.

With that out of the way, I can get on to the real business of the day — or rather yesterday, since I’m a day late: WIPpet Wednesday (Thursday)! My math today for 3/13 goes like this: 3 + 1 + 3 = 7 paragraphs from A Wasted Land:

Kustennin nodded. “I should lead the scouting party.” He glanced briefly at his mother, almost embarrassed at what he was about to say. Normally, Kustennin was reluctant to use the powers he had inherited from Yseult of Eriu, but at the same time, he was well aware that they could be a powerful ally. He knew his hesitation was far from logical. In the end, it came down to one thing: his image of himself as a warrior, not a magician.
“I have some of my mother’s powers of changing,” Kustennin added “I could cloak a small party in illusion, if necessary.”
Taliesin looked up from the plate of cheese and bread he had been devoting himself to. “And I have the ability to help you. We could travel to Venta as a group of traveling minstrels.”
“Wouldn’t that be dangerous?” Celemon asked. “What if one of you were recognized?”
The bard shrugged. “It would be less dangerous for a troupe of players in Cerdic’s territories than for a band of enemy warriors, I’d wager.”
“Who said anything about going to Venta as minstrels?” Kustennin tried to repress the frown he could feel lurking in the muscles of his forehead, but he wasn’t sure if he was successful.
Taliesin clapped him on the back. “Why I did, my liege!”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂