link dump

In lieu of a proper blog post (I was sick last week) I’m sharing links related to the book:

A Portrait of the Artist as a (Wild) Young Man: My Life with Berti Spranger, a novel by Eva Jana Siroka – Rudolf II didn’t just support alchemists like Dee and Kelley but promoted art and artists as well. Spranger was one of his favorites; evidently he liked the artist’s mythical nudes so much he kept him a near prisoner, but Spranger still managed to get in a lot of trouble. The eccentric characters of Rudolfine Prague are so ripe for fictionalization it’s sad they aren’t played with more often (or are they? Please leave book recommendations in the comments!)

James VI and Witches, both Friend and Foe – James I hated and feared witchcraft – Dee wrote him a long, desperate letter in 1604 attempting to clear his reputation for conjuring – but paradoxically allowed known witches into his inner circle, to the extent of having one help in his wife’s birthing chamber. Illustrative of the gray area witchcraft occupied in Elizabethan/Jacobean England; high status practitioners of useful magic got a pass.

A magical walk in the footsteps of the Pendle witches –  this second of a two-part series discusses Alice Nutter, one of the wealthier of the twelve accused. Nutter appears in fictional form in Jeannette Winterson’s “The Daylight Gate” where she’s presented as an associate of Dee’s and Kelley’s. Hey, it’s fiction, so why not?

eating the elephant

I’m sitting at my desk in the early AM at a total loss.

I wrote at least 200 words every morning for the past 2(!) years. Good, bad, or indifferent, I could count them and call it progress. Now I’m sitting on a 110,508 words/446 page first draft (!) and I don’t know what to do next.

elephant on dinner plate

Mark Tompkins, my mentor at the HNS conference, made excellent suggestions for the opening scene (start with black magic) and POV (I can have more than two and they don’t need equal time). I’m tempted to start rewriting now, but I read Alison Morton’s advice and wonder if I should read the whole thing through first.

Vanity isn’t holding me up. My comments so far include repeated “show, don’t tell”, “subtext this” and “backstory, delete”. Nor do rewrites intimidate – if anything I had to throttle my tail-chasing impulses to get to the end.

Fifty pages at a time is all I can manage – beyond that I’m overwhelmed.

How do you break your rewriting process into manageable chunks?

everything, everything: the HNS conference


This past fantastic weekend was my second writing conference and my first (and certainly not the last!) Historical Novel Society conference. I’m still digesting it all, but here are some highlights:

  • The camaraderie. Socially awkward me had spontaneous conversations everywhere: on light rail, in the elevator, at every meal and in every session. The entire HNS membership is as kind and welcoming as my local chapter. Thank you all!
  • Keep Calm: Gabba gabba we accept you one of us!
  • Others who “get it”. Who understand how you can’t NOT write, no matter how difficult it gets. Who grok the indescribable relief/joy of the perfectly turned phrase. Who talk to and channel their characters. Who appreciate the addictiveness of research. So much nodding in agreement my teeth are still rattling.
  • The readers. After all, we all started as readers, and without them authors would just be talking to themselves. I look at my “to read” pile and weep with envy at their luxury of time to read all these wonderful books! Many blog their enthusiasm for their chosen genre and they know what’s hot, what’s not, and what’s coming next. Hats off!
  • Hearing what brought authors to their stories. Often their plots are years in the making, based on childhood obsessions or family histories. Everyone is so passionate about their work!
  • The hard to hear but much-needed blue pencil cafe critique of my first 10 pages. The sting only lasted until my little black heart smiled at my mentor’s suggestions for tightening the screws on my characters…
  • Reassurance that I’m on the right track.
  • Valuable information about the responsibilities of authors, editors, agents, and publishers, and how they intersect.
  • A reminder that published authors are still responsible for the bulk of their publicity, and that it doesn’t have to be a chore.
  • The impetus to finally create my author Facebook page.
  • Tips on how to read in front of an audience without turning into a panicky train wreck.

Somehow I’m both more terrified AND more hopeful about the long revision process to come. It’s time to get to work.

What was your favorite part of the conference?