Friday, January 8, 2016

Goodbye, Hello! The journey continues


2015 was a good year. Some highlights:
  • The rewrite of my novel, Queen of Heka is within 50 pages of being done.  Many thanks to my editor, Jason Sitzes, who is the cold, clear voice in my ear when I get silly. A few agents and one publisher have requested a full manuscript.
  • Started seriously researching and thinking about the second novel, Reeds of Time.
  • "Pulled the trigger" and became a part time employee so I can devote more time to writing. I'm not used to the new schedule. Yet. It still rather feels like I'm on vacation. 
  • This blog grew from 400 visits in 2014 to 15,000+ this year as well as becoming a featured item in Tour Egypt and getting a "like" from Zawi Hawass. 
  • As always, the support of my fantastic children and friends continue to lift me up.

So, what's up for 2016?
  • Finish those final 50 pages. Duh!
  • Establish a better writing schedule, particularly for those extra two days a week I now have.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. I spent  New Year's day with an old friend who told me a bit about moving her parents into a nursing home and the even more stressful task of dealing with a lifetime of family possessions. We agreed this is not a tradition we want to pass on. Even before the holidays and this chat, I felt the weight of my possessions. I have boxes of things I haven't opened for two moves. Seriously. I need to lighten the load.
  • Move up to 20,000 visits to my blog in 2016. Aim low; achieve high is my motto.
  • Get back to my garden. When I left Texas for Illinois, one of the things I looked forward to was easier gardening. While I planted a few herbs and other things, gardening definitely took a back seat to settling in. One of the first things on the 2016 list is to plant blueberry bushes beneath the Eye of Horus. As this photo shows, that area is a bit bland.
  • Prepare for and enjoy the two writing conferences I've signed up for this year with my fellow writer and conference attendee, Ellan.
    • I am beyond excited about the Iceland Writers Retreat in April. I've wanted to go to Iceland since I helped my son with a sixth grade research project. This seemed to good an opportunity to pass up. My classes look amazing.

      Neel Mukherjee: Changing the point of view  How does a writer denote this? When we read something in a novel, through whose eyes are we seeing that world, the writer’s, the narrator’s, or a character’s? What marks the distinction between these three? Should a scene stick to a single point of view or can you have a roving point of view, moving from character to character within one scene or even within one paragraph?

      GerĂ°ur KristnĂ˝: Mythologies Classical mythology and the great body of works founded on myths from the Mediterranean formed the motive reservoir of Western literature for centuries. With better knowledge of other cultures and traditions, modern writers began to use non-occidental mythologies as a source of inspiration and the narrative power of the myth often enables them to shape their stories and transform the mundane to the metaphysical. Using the pre-Christian Nordic myths preserved in the Prose Edda or Snorri’s Edda from the 13th Century, the participants will rewrite an ancient story of their choice in a modern context.

      Kate Williams: Finding your voice in the historical novel The historical novel is currently enjoying a renaissance. We are fascinated by the past. But how can we best capture the voices of the past? What are our responsibilities to historical fact and veracity? What about the sources - if we can't find any, can we invent them? Unless we have someone's private diary, we can't say exactly what they are thinking - but a novel requires us to go deep into our protagonist's consciousness. And can we explore the consciousness of someone who lived in a completely different time? This workshop explores how to write a historical novel, considering questions of research and sources, style, construction, voice - and most of all, how to get into that historical person's head.

      Neel Mukherjee. Addition and Subtraction One of the great strengths of fiction, unsurpassed by any other form, is its capacity for building a world. How does one describe a world in all its details and density? What did Henry James mean when he talked of the ‘solidity of specification’ in his essay, ‘The Art of the Novel’? How much detail is enough and when is it too much, or too scant? How much should a writer put in and how much should she take out? This workshop will address the subject of physical details and world-building.

      Miriam Toews: First-Person Fiction When your narrator is also the protagonist in your novel, there is greater pressure on the author to write with distinctive style, to possess a strong character voice. The first-person narrator is always an insufficient witness to the story he or she sets out to tell, but how to acknowledge this in a way that helps the reader interpret the meaning of what is related? In this workshop we will discuss what makes a first-person narration work.
    • Also excited to participate in the Historical Novel Society conference in Oxford, England, where we can expect to see a reenactment of the Norman Invasion. The list of workshops is not yet available, but IT'S OXFORD. We're taking a side trip to Highclere Castle, which most people know as Downton Abbey. While I'm a big Downton fan, I have another reason for going. Highclere is the family home of the  Earl of Carnarvon. The Fifth Early of Carnovan financed the Tut excavation. I'm hoping to see the Egyptian Room. Afterwards, we're going to Scotland or Italy.