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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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

IT'S OFFICIAL!

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It's all official now. The co-signed contract has been returned to me and a few instructions including a Getting Started as A Hybrid Author document.  Pretty soon I'll get a questionnaire to fill out and will send it and photos of myself to be used on the Media Aria-CDM publishers pages.  I am impressed on how they try to promote their writers. Of course, the writer has to promote themselves too. So you can expect more blogs on the subject of SHADOW OF THE LION.

I'm so excited now as it has all become a reality. So remember this, you novice writers, DON'T GIVE UP. Keep on writing, marketing, and sending out queries. Because one day, like me, you'll  hit "BINGO" and you'll find yourself a published writer.  (And what's good about this is, it's not self-publishing which, though popular these days, is something I didn't want to do with a novel like SHADOW OF THE LION.)  www.mediaaria-cdm.com

I'll keep you posted. I'm even going to start a blog specifically about the book. So watch for it.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

STAYING MOTIVATED

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My favorite view-point above Plaka, Athens Greece
 
 
It always seems more difficult to stay motivated when the summer sun is shining and the beach beckons. Since returning from my long, fantastic vacation in Wales and Greece, I haven't done much writing.  Of course I've been basking in the good luck of getting a book contract, but that hasn't motivated me to get busy on my second novel Dragons in the Sky although after workshopping a chapter the other week at Scribblers, I did take time to jot down notes and transcribe some notes I'd made during my holidays.  I also managed to send off a couple of travel stories. That's about it. I have succumbed to the call of the hot, sunny weather and made my way to the beach as often as possible.
 
 
Today I intended to write anther travel story but so far have only made some research notes. My workspace in the bedroom is hot as a sauna and it's a bit hard to concentrate under these conditions. I have even found it hard to do much 'thinking' and 'note taking' for my writing. But maybe it's good to take a break. Pretty soon summer will be over (too soon!) and the usual west coast rains will cloud our days. Those are the days it's easier to tie yourself to the computer and get work done!
 
 
Meanwhile, dear Olwen awaits the next chapter of her adventures in Greece. I have some rewriting to do on the last chapter I wrote. Then perhaps I'll be able to forge on with her story. Til then, I intend to enjoy every bit of this remarkable summer we are having on the Coast!
 
 



Saturday, August 10, 2013

VICTORY!

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It's been a long journey and an arduous battle but at last, we are victorious!  All those years of persistence and dedication to telling the story of the fall of Alexander the Great's dynasty has finally come to fruition. I HAVE A CONTRACT FOR PUBLICATION!!!

Yes, the Media Arias Publisher in UK have sent me a contract which will be signed and delivered within the next few days. I've gone over it with a knowledgeable friend and will go over it again with information from the Writers' Union, but it looks very good.

I was a bit reluctant when they suggested they would like to make it into two books, because of its length. But after consulting with them and with my friends who know the story, I've decided this may be the best way to go. And it means TWO books instead of one.  The first book will hopefully be published by August 2014 and the second volume a bit later than that (not too much later, I hope!)


This 'victory' was accomplished because I wouldn't give up. Though I'd sent out many queries (most of which didn't even get a reply), just before I left on my journey to UK and Greece in June, I had decided to send out a couple more queries. Two days later Media Arias replied asking to see the full manuscript. I had a good feeling about them -- not only because of their promptness, but because evidently their director is a fan of Mary Renault and other writers about this history.  Meanwhile, when I was away I got three other requests for the MSS but had to wait til I returned. And then the news came that they wanted to publish it and just a couple of weeks later the contract arrived!

The lesson here for other writers is, DON'T GIVE UP! Because eventually someone will recognize the worth of you story. I am more than thrilled. But I won't start to really celebrate until next week when I ink my name onto the last page of the contract and send it off to the publishers. Then it's a done deal. And after all these years I'll be a published author. Not only that, but my novel, which I spent so many years to write, will finally be made available to the public.



Alexander was with me all the way. And when I was in Greece this summer I knew he was there, giving me courage. I am proud of this accomplishment and dedicate this in his memory.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

THE LONG, ARDUOUS JOURNEY

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I'm really feeling as though I'm living Olwen's life at the moment:  that long, arduous journey she was taken on, far from her home, across Europe to Macedonia. This journey of publishing is like that - charting unknown territories, hoping for a 'friendly' interaction, wondering when and if it will come to a satisfactory end. IPOMONI: Patience, is my mantra.  So far, I've sent out dozens of queries to publishers and agents and have received very few responses most of them, til now, negatives. Although I did have a moment of excitement a few weeks ago when one published sent me a contract. Turns out it wasn't a good choice. In fact, they hadn't even read my manuscript. And after thoroughly examining the fine print, I decided it was definitely not one to accept.

Then, this weekend when I was feeling down about it and actually had to force myself to send more queries out, I was surprised to receive and immediate reply from a UK publisher requesting to see the whole manuscript. This is a big plus. A foot in the door, at least. And the bonus was, in the letter they sent me, it said that the director of the company is fond of that same history and has read many of the books I used for research or enjoy reading on the subject, such as Mary Renault's books.  So, at the moment I am again feeling more 'hopeful'. Of course, I won't know anything for sure for about 3 more months!  That's the way it goes in this business. Meanwhile, it's coming up for the anniversary of Alexander's death (June 10) so I am hoping he'll send me some luck!


ALEXANDER, as a youth
 
At the moment I haven't been working on "Dragons in the Sky" as I have felt a bit out-of-steam with the writing. For a couple of weeks my computer was in the shop being fixed and I sort of lost my enthusiasm for writing. And since getting it back in running order I've been catching up on travel stories for EuropeUpClose.  But I am trying to get myself back in the mood for Olwen's story again. This is a picture of Alexander as he would have looked at the time she meets him, when he was a young teen-ager.
 
 
This is the coin with the engraving of Philip on the back (and that is Apollo, I think) like the one that Teag gives Olwen when he finds her dancing in the stone circle early in the book.  She carries this coin with her, always wondering who the 'god' is. And when she first meets Alexander she thinks it is him. 

I have actually written the part where she does meet Philip but that's as far as I have written so far. Perhaps I'll take a break from it until after my holidays. I'm heading for England & Wales on June 8 and then going on to Greece June 14. I'm sure I'll get lots of inspiration along the way, do a bit more research for the novel and for more travel stories. And maybe I'll even write some more blogs!


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

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Statue of Philip II in Thessaloniki, Greece

A SONG FOR PHILIP, KING OF MACEDON
This is a song for Philip, son of Amyntas
that noble warrior of Macedon
whose bloodline come from Herakles.
Warriors, shout a paean for him:
Raise your swords to honour him.
Musicians, play for him
on your sistrum, cymbals and drums.
Maidens, dance for him.
Singers, laud him,
for he is Makedon’s invincible hero.
He is fearless and energetic.
He is cunning and wise.
Poets, tell his tale.
Strike up your harps in praise of him.
There is no other man who can compare
With Philip, the Lion of Makedon
 
I've been working on the chapters of Dragons in the Sky where Olwen is introduced to King Philip.  This is the first time I've had a chance to actually write about him as an active character in the story other than what was mentioned and remembered about him in Shadow of the Lion.  So I'm not sure that I have it quite right yet. The dialogue I wrote today needs to be a bit edgier I think.  Sometimes it takes a while before you can get your head right into a character and Philip is a complex one— a brilliant soldier and strategist but also a bit of a rascal and rogue who had an eye for young girls and fresh new cadets. He and Alexander had a strained relationship as father and son, and his bitter quarrels with Alexander's mother Olympias are well recorded.
So what does this innocent young Celtic girl think of this man? She's introduced to him by her new guardian Theon, the physician. But what will her relationship be with the king? In this chapter he has questioned her about her people, mainly about her clan and ricon and the warriors. What were they like? Was it true they fought naked and took the heads of their enemies?  Philip is planning to invade the northern Celtic tribes at some point so he needs all the information he can get about their battle tactics. Olwen doesn't know much though but she describes her clan life and what the hill forts are like and what she knows about the warriors. And at a later part of the novel when Philip is wounded and almost loses his leg, Olwen will help Theon tend him because she knows the healing arts and acts as Theon's assistant.
 


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SONG FOR A SWORDS WOMAN

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In writing my novel DRAGONS IN THE SKY  because it is a Celtic tale I'm using some bardic verse in place of regular chapter segments which I call 'stanzas' .  Here's an example of one:




SONG FOR A SWORDS WOMAN

 

Stanza One

                   Who is she who comes riding,

                   Wearing ermine skins and hawk feathers

                   in her thick tresses?

                   Who is she who rides through the sedge,

                   A graceful huntress queen?

                   Sure-footed is her pony

                   Sharp-pointed is her spear

                   Leaf-shaped are her arrow-heads

                   Her bow is supple, made from a yew bough.

                   She rides, stately and proud

                   A wild-eyed warrior queen.

                   Who is she who comes riding

                   On the spirited chestnut mare?

                   Who is this bronze-cheeked swords woman

                   With hawk feathers in her hair?

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

INTRODUCING PHILIP

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PELLA
 
 
I have just introduced Olwen to Pella. The first couple of chapters set in the Macedonian royal city have gone fairly smoothly. She has been rescued by the young Alexander and put in the care of a court physician, Theon, on a farm in the north.  But Alexander wants them to come the Pella before winter sets in, so they have arrived there and Olwen is introduced to Macedonian royal life. Quite a stretch of imagination for her after her months of wandering as Sholto's 'hostage', far away from her Celtic home on the Salisbury Plain.
 
 


ALEXANDER, a bust from Pella, aged about 15
 
This is the Alexander who rescues Olwen from her captor. He is fifteen at this time, and soon his life will take a drastic change, just as Olwen's has. 
 
She has already had one encounter with his mother, Olympias, and has been warned.  Now she's going to meet his father, Philip, who has been away in Thessaly.  This is the chapter I'm starting now and having a little bit of trouble setting it up just right. I'm finding it a bit more difficult writing this first-person totally fiction story than I did Shadow of the Lion which was based on an actual historic plot. Dragons in the Sky has a particular cadence and it is strictly in Olwen's point of view, so a bit more restricted than third person. So far, I've managed to capture her voice and my critique group is very enthusiastic about this story. 
 
I'm sure I'll find my way around this chapter, introducing Philip who is an interesting character to say the least. I'll also be introducing Olwen to the family dynamics between Olympias/Alexander/Philip. That should be quite a fascinating experience for her. 
 
KING PHILIP of MACEDON

Artist's reconstruction of Philip's face from the skeleton found in his tomb. Notice the scarred right eye. Quite a formidable fellow!



Saturday, February 23, 2013

WAITING

Penelope
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Poor Penelope waited patiently for years for her husband, Odysseus, to return from his long journey. But her patience paid off, and eventually he return.

I'm kind of like Penelope now— playing the waiting game for news about my novel "Shadow of the Lion"  I've sent it out to several publisher, some in UK and others in US and it takes months to get any responses. The frustrating part is also that every submission guideline is different so I have to alter the queries and enclosures with each submission. This can be confusing and time consuming.

So, though I haven't been writing much on my blog these days, it's because I've been occupied with this other task. As well, I am working on the other novel "Dragons in the Sky"  I've done a little bit of new writing for it, but mostly I've been making notes and editing from suggestions made by my Scribblers writer's group.

Then there's the travel writing. I try to keep up with the two stories a month I like to submit to EuropeUpClose (on-line) and still have a list of stories to prepare for other freelance markets. Oh, if only I had the time!

These days I am still instructing classes. (Today I had an all-day class in memoir writing, just the same as I did last weekend.) And I have Write from the Heart groups Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings plus a creative writing class Tuesday nights. Next month I'm thinking of launching an in-home writing group again but I'm waiting for these others to wind down. I also attend my faithful and inspiring writing critique group, The Scribblers, every Monday night.

Somewhere in between I squeeze in some pleasure and leisure time. I love going to listen to jazz or the blues and hang out with my friends. This is Oscar weekend so I'm having a little party tomorrow, formal and classy, with my girlfriends.

Then I'll be back at the writing and editing again. And hopefully I'll post a few more blogs soon.
Meanwhile, thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

WHERE IS THE MUSE?

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MIDNIGHT MUSE

My Muse comes after midnight

nudges me awake.

Whispers urgently,

“Get up! Write!”

I curse her,

stumble across the dark room,

search for matches,

light the candle wick.

Where has she been in the daylight?

How many hours did I wait for her

listening for her voice?

“Where where you?” I ask.

“Was it your voice I heard

while I daydreamed in the sun?

Or was it only the sound of

of sheep bells on the mountain?”

“Write!” she demands. “Write!”

If I wait til morning

the words she whispers to me

will be extinguished

like this candle flame.

Written while living in a shepherd’s cottage , Lala, Euboeia, Greece.
 
I seem to be having a problem connecting with the Muse these days. 
Very frustrating, when there is so much work to do. But I have felt unsatisfied with what I've already written for "Dragons in the Sky" other than those very early chapters written in the beginning. So I am trying to conjure the Muse's help.
 
Meanwhile I'm reading a very good book "Song for Achilles" that seems to be inspiring me. It's written first person narrative and in a very lyrical style, like Dragons. So perhaps I can capture the cadence again and smooth out what I've written which, to me, seems a bit stilted and phony — "made up" instead of flowing in a natural narrative. 
 
I've also go to sort out all the research notes I took which are not in any particular order and slow me down when I'm looking for things. And, I need to learn more about the herbs and spells and magic things so I can add more of those ingredients to my story.
 
So, I call on you Muse, to please come and inspire me! I'm waiting....

 

Thursday, January 03, 2013

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH

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Writing historical fiction can mean that a lot of time is spent doing research.  I try to limit this time for myself (because I love researching!) by making sure exactly what I want and need to find out.
There's lots of info available on-line now but it is still a good idea to visit  your library and find some of the books written on the subjects you want to know about.

Not everyone has been as lucky as I have in actually being able to visit some of the places that I am writing about. Even though some are now just archaeological ruins, you can still get the idea of the way things might have been, along with visits to the local museums and all the book research you've done. Certain things can't be 'fictionalized' and you need to be as correct as possible when describing habits, customs and locations of the places in your novels.


For my novel "Dragons in the Sky" I really lucked out when I discovered the Iron Age Celtic village at St. Fagan's Heritage Park near Cardiff Wales. Not only did I see first-hand what the houses were like people lived in back in the days I was writing about, but you could go inside the houses as well. There were people in period costume demonstrating what went on inside the houses as well as some of the materials and possessions Iron Age people would have.

I also visited the site where my story first takes place, Old Sarum on the Salisbury Plain in the south of England, and the remains of the hill fort which gave me some idea of what the terrain was like where my fictional village of Caer Gwyn was located.

But there were still lots of details I needed to know about the life of the Brythonic Celts.  So I went back to the books and spent a couple of weeks jotting down bits of trivia (eating and drinking habits, warriors customs such as the chopping off of enemy's heads and keeping them for trophies. And I had to learn as much as I could about the healing arts, potions and spells so I could add these details to the story. Now I must go back over what I previously had written and add these little tidbits of information which is going to make Olwen's story even more realistic and visual.

Although I am writing a strictly fiction account of this young Celtic priestess's abduction and journey across Europe to Macedonia, I still have to get certain facts straight. I have learned the names of all the tribes and some interesting facts about them. I figured out travel times (by horse) and was able to scope some of the terrain on the google maps. It's been an interesting journey so far. And I want to make it as realistic as possible so that the people come alive and are believable.

It bothers me sometimes when historical fiction writers just second-guess at details and don't take time to make sure that what they have written is logical or truthful. Yes, it is 'fiction', but if you are including historical facts, those details must be correct. As for your interpretation of the characters you have a lot of leeway and, as the saying goes "The historical fiction writer can take as many liberties as they wish in making it a better story".  When I wrote "Shadow of the Lion", I was writing from a historically recorded plot-line so much of the novel had to be correct. Luckily I had some Classical Scholar friends in Greece who helped me with some small details like the way sacrifices and offerings were made etc, what they wore, what they ate. And I was able to interpret my characters according to what research I had done about them. I was also fortunate to be able to visit many of the locations in my story, to study flora and fauna and the lay of the land. It helped me describe things in a very realistic way so that the reader can imagine being there.

"Dragons in the Sky" is not written from a historical plot-line but at some point in the story when Olwen meets Alexander, there are certain events that must be recorded accurately. I can fictionalize her view-point of these events, but historians would have objections if I had things happening with Alexander that were not possible. So I have returned to my big box of research notes that I have kept from "Shadow", and this has really been helpful to me in plotting out the next part of "Dragons."

Remember, when you write historical fiction, you must do the work. Otherwise you are bound to have readers who throw the book down saying 'this is all nonsense'. Make your fiction as realistic as you can get it, make the characters live and breath, laugh and cry. That's what makes a great story!