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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CATCHING UP

What Have I Been Doing?


Signing the e-book contract
 
My goodness! It's been six months since I contributed anything to this blog. Meanwhile I have been posting on my travel blog at http://travelthroughhistory.blogspot.com  But it's time to catch up here with all the news that has been happening which is part of the reason I've not taken the time to post blogs on Living the Writer's Life.

First, besides my book contract for SHADOW OF THE LION (Volume One "Blood on the Moon" will be out by mid August!) I also signed a contract to work on an Athens Guide e-book for Hunter Publishing, US. This is exciting as Athens is like my second home. I'll be returning there in September and while there will do more extensive research for the Guide. Meanwhile, I have most of it written and the publisher is pleased!

Unfortunatly, I haven't had any time at all to work on "DRAGONS IN THE SKY" my Celtic tale. But I'm about to start a new chapter just as soon as I can clear my writing desk of the various projects at hand.

Where Have I Been?
A day at Giza

I've been focusing mostly on travel stories, especially Egypt, since my wonderful, surprising and magical trip there in late March. This amazing travel writer's tour included a special side-trip to Alexandria for me because of the research I did for Shadow of the Lion. So far I've had three of the stories published, one is out to market now and there will be several more written in the next few weeks.  I am writing the blogs first, then the articles so it takes a bit of time.
 Alexander and me at the Library of Alexandria

What's Happening Now?
My night school classes ended with the Winter term and will be no more. However I have still some morning groups, though only the WAVES writers is running now, on Monday mornings. The others will resume in mid October. Meantime I am doing a bit of in-home writing/coaching and this Spring I also did an in-home travel writing workshop. I plan to scout around for more venues to teach classes at and will also try to do more in-home workshops in the Fall.

What Are My Plans?
I'm going to England on August 31 and will visit family in Wales, then attend the Historical Novel Writers Conference in London Sept 5/6. I hope I can do some book readings in UK while I'm there. I fly to Athens September 8 and already have two book readings scheduled. I am planning to go up north to Macedonia -- Thessaloniki and around the area such as Pella, where I'll do some more research for my Dragons novel. I'm hoping to get in touch with the Society of Macedonian Studies who were helpful in my early research of Shadow and perhaps do a reading there. As well I am planning to attend a Greek poet friend's presentation in Thessaloniki.

I will be in Greece untill Oct 8. I plan to stop off in Germany en route home to visit my friend Patrick for a few days. Homeward bound Oct. 11

So that's all the updated news. I'll try to begin posting here again more frequently as soon as I clear my writing desk of projects and get some time to write more blogs.
 

Enjoying some souvlaki in Monastiraki, Athens.
 


Saturday, January 11, 2014

SOME EXCITING NEWS ABOUT 'SHADOW OF THE LION'


 

Yesterday I got a wonderful surprise when my publisher MediaAria-CDM posted an announcement on Facebook about the forthcoming publication of my novel 'SHADOW OF THE LION'.  It is due to be published this year in two parts. The first part subtitled 'BLOOD ON THE MOON' will be released in August 2014.  The second part subtitled 'THE FIELDS OF HADES' will be out in 2016.

They have sent the promotional information to their publicists and you can view it on the links below. You can also link to the blog I have for SHADOW on which I am posting various stories about the research, the characters and other interesting aspects of the novel
http://shadowofthelion.com

As well, you can download the publisher's ezine and see an article I wrote for them about how I  became inspired and researched the book.

 
SHADOW OF THE LION - W. Ruth Kozak’s forthcoming debut historical novel, SHADOW OF THE LION, is due out this SUMMER 2014 and MEDIAARIA CDM are very pleased to announce that this epic work will be released in two parts. To read the Press Release and learn more, visit: https://www.prbuzz.com/books-publishing-literature/197472-shadow-of-the-lion-books-i-and-ii-titles-announced.html.
 
 
In addition, someone posted a very interesting article about how an archaeologist is investigating the cause of Alexander's death and attributes it to having been a poisonous plant added to his wine. This is exactly the theory I have pursued in the novel - that a potion was made of a poison plant and added to his wine while he was on a binge. His enemy, Kassandros, is allegedly suspected of doing this.
I found this fascinating and it also adds to the interest of the novel.
 
 
I'll be posting more information on the progress of the publishing as the months go by. This is a very exciting time for me and I want to share every moment with you, my faithful blog followers.
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Celts and the Greeks: Connecting the Dots

Add to Technorati FavoritesIn researching my work-in-progress novel 'DRAGONS IN THE SKY'  I have tried to connect the Celtic people with the Greeks.  In the story, Olwen an acolyte of the Druids, is snatched from her village by a renegade chieftain after she witnesses him murder his brother. He takes her on a ship across the Narrow Sea using her as his talisman as he makes his was eastward across Europe and south toward Macedonia where he hears a king is recruiting an army.  Near the boarder of Macedonia she is rescued by a young hunter who is Alexander.  But how much connection was there between the people of southern Europe and the northern Celtic tribes?

Pytheas of Massalia
In the 4th century BC, a Greek geographer and explorer from the Greek colony of Massalia (modern day Marseilles) made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe. In this voyage he travelled around and visited a considerable part of Britain. He's the first person on record to describe the 'midnight sun". The existence of an area where the nights are very short in summer and the sun does not set at the summer solstice was already known. Reports from this country of the Hyperboreans had been reaching the Mediterranean for some centuries, but Pytheas is the first known scientific visitor to report the arctic polar ice and information of the Germanic tribes. His account of the tides is the earliest relating them to the moon.


(this book is available on Amazon)

Pytheas was a Greek geographer. He wrote a book about his voyage but it has not survived. All we have are references in the works of later classic writers.  Where he started his voyage is a mystery because in those days the Carthaginians had closed the Straits of Gibraltar for all ships from other nations. He may have travelled overland or sailed only at night. He travelled to Cornwall, w hich was then the source of tin, and there he studied and wrote about the production and procession of tin. He circumnavigated Britain, sailing north to an island called "Thule". It may have been part of the Norwegian coast although Iceland, the Shetlands and the Faeroes have also been identified by historians. He noted that Thule was an agricultural country that produced honey. It was the place where the sun went to sleep and  the congealed sea began.  He spoke of the waters around Thule being like a 'marine lung' which actually means jellyfish. Modern scientists believe that he tried to describe ice cakes that are formed at the edge of drift ice. He noted that the inhabitants of Thule ate fruits and drank milk and made a drink out of grain and honey (mead.)


After completely his survey of Britain (called Albion then), he travelled to the continental North Sea coast. He may have also visited the Baltic.  And he visited an island which was the source of amber (probably Helgoland).

He wrote a book about his voyage but that has not survived. We only have the remarks of others, among them Strabo who (unjustly) called Pytheas a liar.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

UPDATES ON "SHADOW OF THE LION"

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I had to set aside "Dragons in the Sky" because I am working on a new Epilogue (for book 1) and Prologue (for book 2) of SHADOW OF THE LION,  since the publishers have decided to break it into two books.

I spent a weekend stressed out over how I'd go about it (not as easy as I thought and they must be perfect!  But since then I think I have a grip on it and have a pretty good draft of the Epilogue finished.  Will work on the Prologue now, and then workshop both of them in my Scribblers' writer's critique group.

So far I am very pleased with my publisher www.mediaaria-cdm.com  and their friendly responses.  At the end of the year I'll be working with the director himself who will supervise the final edits ("an act of love" because he feels that Shadow is "an amazing artistic endeavour") 

I have an artist friend designing the book cover.  And so far the publisher has done lots of advance publicity.  On my end, I have put up a blog especially to advertise and introduce the novel
You can see it at http://shadowofthelion.com   I'll be adding bits from time to time to keep the interest up.

This is a very exciting time for me. It still hardly seems 'real' that, at last, my novel will be published!
I've been asked to do some readings in advance. This week I'm reading at a story time group and next month I'll co-read with a friend who is having a book launch at a local library.

Stay tuned in to this blog for further news and maybe even a bit more about "Dragons in the Sky" when I get these other tasks finished.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BATTLING WRITER'S BLOCK AND PROCRASTINATION

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Celtic goddess
 
 I just started instructing a new class last night, a four-week course in 'SURVIVAL TIPS FOR WRITERS'.  Funny thing is, I need to take some of my own advice!  I've been struggling with writer's block for weeks (well, since I returned from my holidays in July, other than a couple of travel stories I've written for publication.)  And procrastination is also one of the big stumbling blocks right now that has prohibited me from moving on with work on "Dragons in the Sky" 

I went as far as actually writing out editing notes from the parts I've workshopped in my writer's group, copying notes I'd made in my notebook, and working out a time-line for the next part of the novel. But I am stuck! 
Alexander
 
Philip
So far, Olwen has been rescued by the young Alexander, invited to Pella along with her new guardian Theon, and has been briefly introduced to Alexander's father, King Philip.  What comes next? That is the question that has been troubling me.  I'm planning (tentatively) a small segment where she meets Alexander's friend Hephaestion too.  But perhaps that should have come earlier in the story?  I have a vague idea of what might be coming next (according to my time-line) but I just can't seem to get on to it and every time I intend to sit down and work through it, I find myself distracted, procrastinating and not doing the work!  And, and as writer, I have to DO THE WORK if I want to complete this novel.

Alexander and Hephaestion
Here I am again today, home after an unsuccessful trek in a rain storm to attend a book launch downtown. As I made my way back home, drenched from the rain, I decided that perhaps this was a good time to stay home and get busy with the writing.  Have I started yet? No!  So I have decided that I'm not even going to think about going out again tonight and instead I will make a major effort to at least make notes and try to get myself motivated to actually write a few pages. 

Or should I finish that travel article I started the other day?.....Hmmmm....Here I go procrastinating. AGAIN!

Friday, September 06, 2013

PATIENCE, PERSISTENCE, AND UNWAVERING TRUST

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"There is nothing impossible for him who will try!"  These are words written on a card a friend gave me when I had my wrap party to celebrate completion of my manuscript of SHADOW OF THE LION.  Of course there was more work ahead. And for the next year my mantra was "Epimoni (persistence)" and "Ipomoni - patience" .  The final editing took a good six months, and then came the months of sending out queries and playing the waiting game. But I trusted. I had Alexander on my side and he never lost a battle!  In fact, on my tack-board I had this: ALEXANDER IS THE BEACON, THE LIGHT THROUGH WHICH I SHALL ACHIEVE SUCCESS. So I have to say "Thank you, Alexander. Evharisto poli. Because you have been with me for the long years of research and writing, stopping and starting again, writing pages and pages of your story. Twenty years in all. And I never gave up. So now, it's just a matter of time until SHADOW OF THE LION will finally make its debut into the literary world. And I feel sure it will be a success.

Here's my advice to novel writers. Don't give up. Be patient, persistent and have unwavering trust that you will get the book written and it will be published.


Contract signing day!
 
Meanwhile, DRAGONS IN THE SKY lies languishing on my table. I haven't done any new writing on it since before my vacation, although I did sit down the other day and sort out some time-lines.
 
This novel also has a long history. I actually began it back in the early 80's, typing on a manual typewriter as this Celtic girl, Olwen, began to tell me her story. I worked on it on-and-off, even during the time I went to live in Greece from 1983. However I got jumbled up with it, because a writer teacher I had at the time insisted I should be writing it in third person. So I kept switching back and forth and it simply didn't work. And also, some of the critiques I was getting for it from a group I belonged to were not that encouraging. So I shelved it.


 After SHADOW OF THE LION was finished and I had started pitching it to agents and publishers, I got a good bit of advice from writer Steven Pressfield. "Start working on something new."  So I took out my old manuscript of Dragons, and started to retype it into the computer. As I typed and the voice came back to me I realized that all along this was meant to be a first person narrative. It is almost like a past-life regression story and I think the roots of it were when long ago people started asking me how I knew so much about Greece and the people. (I had written an Alexander themed novel in my last year of high school). And in 1979 when I first visited Greece I had so many deja vus experiences I really began to believe I HAD been there before. Olwen's voice came loud and clear, telling me her story, how she had been brought up by the Druids, trained to be a healer and was an acolyte priestess, and after a great tragedy descended on her village was kidnapped by a renegade chieftain, taken across the Narrow Sea and across the Celtic lands as far as Macedonia where she is rescued by a young hunter (Alexander). 

When I did the time-lines yesterday I realize that I am about half done this first draft and so far whenever I workshop it my writing group (The Scribblers) loves it.  Some of the chapters are written as bardic verse, the rest in a lyrical prose style. Well, I think that just by writing this blog I have 'unstuck' myself from the writer's block that has plagued me lately. So look for most postings soon about Olwen and her adventures.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A DREAM COME TRUE: PRELIMINARY PUBLICITY

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I was thrilled this morning to receive an email from my publisher with a link to a bio page for their website and another link to a page promoting my novel SHADOW OF THE LION.




Alexander's Funeral Carriage


Things happen so fast!  And my dream really IS coming true. Now I am planning all the preliminary publicity I can do myself, plus what I'll do once the book is on the market next August 2014.
Already I have a list of possible sources for book readings and for sure I will ask the Hellenic Community Centre if I can do my book launch there.

Three people have already offered to write book reviews for me. One is my writer friend Dr. John (Jack) Dempsey, another is another Greek/Canadian friend who teaches at a local college, and the third is a new facebook friend introduced to me by my other writer friend Scott Oden.  I am so appreciative of all this help and advance support.

I've been sent a questionnaire to fill out where I will outline what I plan to do for my own publicity campaign and I've already got lots of ideas.  Another published writer who is having a book out around the same time mine is scheduled has asked if I'd like to do joint book readings with her. This is another huge boost as she is a well known local writer.

So for now I am sailing on a silver cloud of euphoria, hardly believing all this is happening so quickly. And I know Alexander has been right there all along. So I'm certain this will all be a huge success!

 Alexander wearing his lion helmet


Painting: Roxana and Alexander IV (Iskander) with the court secretary, Eumenes.