Saturday, May 29, 2010

PROGRESS REPORT #65: What's on Your Bookshelves?

Today I received a very special birthday gift from my friend Ingrid: Two volumes of Diodorus Siculus containing books 16 & 17 and 18 & 19, all vital to my research for Shadow of the Lion. I might still have to get 1 more volume to complete the information I need to have on hand.

The above photo is one of my bookshelves containing research books. I have another one in my bedroom. So these two new books, green hard covers written in both Greek and English, will find their new home on the shelves beside all the other books I have about Greek history, namely Alexander the Great and Macedonia.

I am working on the final chapter. Today I got two pages written and I have lots of notes. But I really need to contemplate a bit and get down deeper into the narrative. I'm just playing with it right now, still not 100% sure of if I'm on the right track.

This week I have been reading "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott which I have found interesting and inspiring. This plan of approaching your work 'bird by bird' has helped in sorting out how to begin this final chapter and what it should include. I do what she says, take a deep breath and focus on one tiny picture at a time. It seems to work!

So, my intention is to write all weekend and so far I didn't go outside once today (the rain helped) and I stayed pretty well focused. Now I'm taking a wee break from Shadow and tonight I'll study some Greek (brushing up on my vocabulary for this summer's trip) and I'll write another Planet Eye story for the Vancouver Guide. I just posted a couple of others and was pleased to learn the editor is going to use a Kuala Lumpur story I'd written and submitted as a feature (which means extra pay!) I can submit stories other than local ones and intend to do that as I have a lot of previously published work that can be easily converted and shortened and resubmitted.

If the rain stops, tomorrow I'm planning a nice long sea-wall walk which I find helpful when I'm working through new material for the novel. I might even have a picnic!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010


Alexander, on Bucephalus

I can hardly believe that I am at the final countdown, the last chapter of this long saga about the fall of Alexander the Great's dynasty. Of course, now I've reached this last chapter I'm encountering a lot of 'resistance'. Partly due to lots of distractions such as my classes, editing other people's manuscripts and writing for Planet Eye Traveler. But I'm hoping now that it is a long weekend here, to get some time to catch up and at least get this last chapter drafted out.

Besides the final chapter, I have a bit of work to do on the Prologue and Epilogue but both are partially written.

It has been a long, long journey and it's hard saying goodbye to the people I've grown to know so well. And what makes the final chapter difficult is its tragic ending.

In the previous chapter segement, I bid a sad farewell to one of my favorite fictional characters, Nabarzanes the Persian Court Advisor. He's finally left his long exile and is heading back home to Babylon.

Here's a short segment:

The next morning, as the dawn reddened the eastern sky, Nabarzanes left Ephesus. The city was silent, the streets still hidden in shadows save where a lamp was lit above a door. He had dressed in menial clothes, a homespun tunic and trousers tucked into his soft leather riding boots. He wore no jewelry to display his Persian wealth. The plain clothes disguised him as a travelling merchant, but there was no way to hide that he was a Persian with his ivory skin and sable hair. He travelled light, a goatskin wine bag, a flas of water, a few almond biscuits and dried figs and a small bundle of his personal possessions. What he'd need for food would be provided in viallages along the way. By day he would ride along the King's H ighway, mingle with other wayfarers. By night he would sleep among soldiers who guarded the byways. The Royal Road was well travelled, the craggy heights guarded by ancient fortresses, some that had been repaired by Alexander when he had passed that way years before. There would be caravans on the road, merchants and other travellers making for theports: Phoenicians with blue dyed beards, bejeweled Karians, slaves from Africa bare to the waist, their skin sleek as ebony. Soldiers, Persian merchants, veiled women carrying burdens n their heads trudging beside the donkeys their menfolk rode. Shaqal's long stride would cover the miles quickly down the coast, and across Syria to the Babylonian border, but it would be a good few months or more before he would reach Babylon.

He nudged his heels against Shaqaql's flanks to spur his horse forward, down the hill to the Street of Marbles, south out the city gate.

"Come my faithful steed. Speed us on our way. We're going home."

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