Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Alexander rides Bucephalus eastward to his conquests

It's done!  After literally years of work writing, workshopping,rewriting,editing, compiling my historical fiction novel Shadow of the Lion is finally on its journey into the big wide world of publishing. First step, I sent it to my historical fiction author friend in the States who is going to read it and forward it to his agent/publisher. Then we'll see what comes next. I feel a great sense of relief (especially after a heart-stopping moment yesterday when I went to finalize the script only to find my entire document file of Shadow notes, versions, etc had disappeared.) I freaked out! But once I calmed down and searched, I found it in the trash box.  Don't ask me how it got there. But for sure now I will get everything on the external hard drive and a zip file. (I had other versions on zips but as I had just finished the editing and was adding things like acknowledgements and authors' notes I was waiting til later that day to save it somewhere else.)  At any rate, it's safe and now in the hands of my friend. 

I have a lot of people to thank for helping me, encouraging me and sticking with me during this long, long adventure which took about as long (if not longer) than Alexander's trek across Asia. But I know in the end it is a great story, a piece of literary fiction not just fluff. And paying out a lot of money to a pro editor was worth the investment in the end. What I sent off was as polished as I could get it. Of course, it was a lot of work. But if you want to succeed as a writer, especially a novelist, you have to be prepared to DO THE WORK!  Author Steven Pressfield has written several blogs on this subject, stressing that it is important to dedicate your time to your writing.  If all you do is poke away at it once a week or randomly, it will never get finished. Determination. Dedication. Discipline. These are key words for a writer.

Of course, in the early years of writing and researching Shadow I was also working full time or at least part time so I had to schedule my writing times. At first it was usually one week night and weekends and I jotted down notes in between. During the '90's when I was seriously working on the novel I had the good fortune to live in Greece six months of the year for several years running and this allowed me time for research and writing. Even when I was there I had to discipline myself though, and always wrote from 11 am to 4 pm before I allowed myself to venture out and hang out at the tavernas or beach. These past years since I retired from daycare work I have devoted all of my time to writing, including instructing writing classes in order to top up my pension.

To make sure I'm not wasting time I keep a daily time sheet and this includes actual writing/editing time as well as attending writer's groups, events, research etc. That way I can see if I am shirking (and it is also in case I ever get audited as a self-employed writer I can prove I am not just putting in time as a hobby).  And yes, some days I am working (writing) longer hours than I would in an office.

Now that Shadow of the Lion is finished, I still have a pile of projects to attend to. First, I want to finish the half-written Celtic novel Dragons in the Sky which I had begun long ago and set aside in order to write Shadow. And then I want to start browsing through old journal notes to compile my memoirs Life Below the Acropolis. In addition to this, I must get more travel articles written.  And I promise I'll try to be more diligent at posting here on my blog.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


On the podium at the Surrey Museum, July 21

It has been a very busy time for me between finishing up my instructing of writing classes, editing my novel (final edits done as of yesterday!) and trying to catch up on travel writing and other activities.  Usually I'm in Greece during July, basking in the sun on a beach of golden sand. This year I couldn't make a big trip so I've stayed at home and tried to enjoy what spare time I've had making local tours. I'm hoping by the end of this month I can travel up to Barkerville B.C., a small gold-mining town where prospectors stopped off on route to the Yukon. It's their 150th anniversary and a great time to go up there.

One of the interesting and worthwhile things I did this month was to lecture at the Surrey Museum. They were having a special lego exhibit and asked if I could do a slide presentation about ancient Greece which would include some aspects of travel.  I prepared a lecture of Armchair Travellers on Greek Myths and Muses which included some of the ancient heroes and legends as well as part of the Venetian and Byzantine history of Greece.  All the photos other than those borrowed from Wikipedia were taken by me on various journeys around Greece. 

ATHENS, Parthenon

At first I wasn't sure how the Lego exhibit connected with my lecture, but after having a look at it I realized that many of the places I spoke about in my talk were included as exhibits, such as these remarkable structures of Athens's acropolis and Parthenon. And there was even ancient Troy, which was included in my lecture about Homer's heroes Agamemnon and Achilles.

The display, built by the Vancouver LEGO club presented the world of gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters from ancient times and mythology. There were sets of lego on the tables for children to try their hand at building some structures themselves.  And there was also an interactive 'game' where kids could find certain items in the display and check them off on a paper.  I was more than impressed by this show and it certainly enhanced the subjects I talked about in my lecture.

Egypt, the Sphinx and pyramids

The Lighthouse of Alexandria