Enya’s Son Update
I was searching a place where my character Enya is from. She has escaped a painful childhood, and just got some sad news about that place. And I find this. I hope you enjoying listening as much as I did. I don’t know what the Irish means, but I do know the song mentions this place.
Exciting New Discoveries!
Those of us who read historical novels like there to be some accuracy in them. The story needs to be true to its setting. Since I having been writing stories set in ancient Ireland, in the 5th and 6th centuries, much of what I write about is based, necessarily, on legends. The setting is the best I can make it with what is known, thanks in great part to archaeological discoveries. And as technology gets better, more is proven and discovered, which I think is really exciting.
The Discovery of St. Columcille’s Cell on Iona
When I read this, I was really excited because I’m currently writing about St. Columcille! The end of the story will put him in this cell, that was discovered about sixty years ago but only recently dated to his lifetime. Where I’m at now in writing the novel, he’s not on Iona yet, but I’m following the stories of his life and will get there. Proving that a figure from so long ago actually was in the place where historical accounts put him, and that the whole story is not a fantasy, is really incredible if you think about it.
The Truth of Old Celtic Stories…
…are often not the point of telling them.
The spiritual significance of these historical figures lies in what we can apply to our lives and how we might carry on the legacy of faith. That’s why I write my novels. But sometimes I do get critics who insist these people never really lived, never really carried on the way the legends say they did, never could have accomplished the feats that made them into saints.
But I say, not so fast. To believe that is to deprive ourselves of the privilege, and the responsibility, of striving to do the same. If we don’t live lives worthy of having tall tales told about us one day, we’ve failed to carry the torch and give our lives real meaning. So I say be inspired by the tales of old, and realize that you too can make a difference.
Since I write historical fiction, I’m really interested in reenactments. There are plenty of Civil War and pioneer reenactments around here, but that’s not the era I’m currently writing in. So you can imagine how excited I was to find this video. It may not completely describe my setting—this one claims to be pre-historic to early Christian, which is a huge range—but overall it gives you a very good feel of the word of Columcille and his mother Eithne (Enya.)
Second Guessing God: Hanging On When You Can’t See His Plan by Brian Jones
“Why does God allow bad things to happen?” This book is Jones’s response to that question. Like a good friend, Brian comes alongside those seeking help in trials of life to help them find meaning and strength.
While there is nothing shockingly new in this book, it’s a wonderful testimony of what Brian Jones has learned in his life. He writes in a relatable voice that feels as though you are having a conversation in his study.
There were a couple of places that really spoke to me. The chapter on Doubt is honest and impactful. Jones says, “At the heart of a life filled with unanswered questions lies the very nature of Christianity. Our faith is about a relationship with Jesus, not an adherence to a set of intellectual ideas we can memorize and master. Doubt reminds us of this.”
Another part that stood out to me was the chapter on Church. “We’ve become a nation of church shoppers…If the preaching gets boring at our church, we pull out the yellow pages. If the worship style changes, we go to First Church’s early service. If our Sunday School class starts to get too impersonal, we don’t sweat it; we try the hot new church in town..I can’t help but think this must make God sad….If you jump ship when things get tough, you’ll condemn yourself to one long journey of spiritual superficiality.” He goes on to give the example of his parents who have attended the same church for decades. He says, “…they’ll look back and savor the memories a lifetime of faithful participation in one congregation brings. They’ll look back and relish the dangerous conversations they didn’t avoid, sins they were encouraged to confront, and authentic Christian friendships it took a lifetime to develop.”
Just a few examples of the kind of personal, heartfelt conversations that this book makes you feel like you are having.
This is a departure from my usual blogging. We read to escape reality sometimes, but the truth is, we do have to live in the present. I promise after this I’ll go back to my usual topics.
America Gets Advice From Europe
I read a tweet this morning that prompted me to write this. It wasn’t from someone I follow, but was a RT from someone I follow. This person is probably European, I would guess, because I have read similar things from non Americans in Europe. The writer was referring to the shooting on a baseball field in Alexandria, VA, and a shooting at a UPS facility in San Francisco that happened on the same day.
This is basically what it said:
Dear America, Shooting elected officials. Shooting co-workers. Always shooting. Get rid of your guns. There is a better way.
Dear Europeans, Learn the Truth
People who don’t live in America and haven’t traveled here have been misled to think that Americans are all armed, walking around with rifles and hand guns, engaging in gun fights like the old Wild West. But think about that. If that were true dozens of people yesterday would not have had to run for shelter. Those there that day would not have reason to say what Representative Rand Paul said: “Our lives were saved by Capitol Police. Had they
not been there, I think it would have been a massacre.”
Get rid of our guns? Who exactly are you addressing with that statement?
Dear America, improve your justice system. Improve your mental health programs. Report suspicious behavior. Be vigilant. Pray for peace.
But whatever you believe, know that Americans are not always shooting each other. We don’t condone this stuff.
Of course we agree there is a better way. There is no need to tell us that. Of course we don’t believe the way to influence politics is to shoot those who disagree. (That country does exist, but it’s not us!) These shootings are the work of mentally unstable people who got their hands on guns. That is what needs to be addressed. That is not America. If you believe that, you’ve been misled.Click To Tweet
The One I’m Currently Writing Anyway
Today, June 9, is the Feast of St. Columba. In Irish his name is Columcille, meaning “Dove of the Church.”
His mother was like Hannah of the Bible in that she prayed desperately for a child. When he was born, she fostered him to the church much like Hannah did for her son Samuel. There was probably an intent by the monks who wrote the story down to make that comparison, but it fascinates me true or not. And that’s all it takes sometimes to get my novelist mind turning.
If you’d like to know more about Saint Columcille, I’ve written a blog post that links to a previous one. Go here.
Let me know what you think!
The ebook edition of Grace’s Pictures is on sale this month for just 99 cents! It’s a great time to get started on the series with book one. All ebook formats of this title are available for less than a buck!
You can find lots of good books at special prices on my publisher’s web site but hurry. These prices are only in effect during the month of June.
Go here to get your deals: http://ebookdeals.net
I remember my father talking about his grandmother, Mary Ellen Myers Peters, being German. He did not remember her. He was only 2 when she died. I think he was going entirely by her surname. If you follow my blog or read my books, you know my interest has mostly been in my Irish, Scottish, and very recently Welsh roots–all from my father’s side of the family, by the way.
But by following one of those green leaf hints on Ancestry.com I uncovered this photograph of this Myers family. I contacted the man who posted it (his name is Mike) and discovered that we are distant cousins and my great grandmother Mary Ellen is in this photograph (number 11), as is her husband seated in front of her. Because it was taken circa 1902, I realized that the child sitting on my great grandfather’s lap is my grandfather when he was about a year old.
Researching German Roots
So, I’m off on a new adventure. Mike will be sending me his files and photos on this family. (By the way, he does not know the identity of the man whose portrait is being held up by my great great grandfather. A mystery I’d love to solve!) Mike knows from where in Germany the family came, and that they
immigrated in the 18th century. It seems all of my lines I know of thus far have lived in this country before we were a country. I’m a deeply rooted American!
Where are they from? Voerstetten, Freiberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. I’m shaking my head. I know so little about that country and culture!Who else is on a German ancestry quest? Click To Tweet
Yesterday I enjoyed appearing at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Ohio, a festival I’ve appeared at for several years now. It’s a great time to meet new readers, reconnect with those who have read my books, and mingle with other authors, bookstore owners, librarians, and book lovers. This year I was asked to be on a panel with other authors who have published both traditionally and independently. There was a lot of discussion, but there were a few things that didn’t get said.
If you are AN AUTHOR WHO WANTS SOME ADVICE ABOUT THE PROCESS, this post is for you!What I Wish I'd Said about Self-publishing at the book festival panel. #indiepublishing #selfpublishing Click To Tweet
1. Don’t Rush to Publication
I get it. It’s discouraging when you learn how long a publisher takes to get a book out. You just want your book to be launched to the world, and you don’t want it to take sooooo loooong! While doing it yourself will most likely get your book to the marketplace quicker than a traditional publisher would, don’t rush the process. Take the time needed to polish your book, to send it to critique partners and early readers, to get it to an editor, to make changes, to perfect the book cover and title, to get some reviews and endorsements prior to publishing, and to create some pre-publication buzz. You will also need time to review proof copies, make any necessary changes, and wait for the first copies to be printed and shipped to you.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a self-published author say something like, “I need to get my next book out by September and it’s already July and I only have half of it written.” No, no, no! Stop it! That’s just not enough time to do all the things I’ve listed above. Remember, you are in charge. Not having a deadline forced on you is one of the advantages of doing it yourself. No one is insisting you have your book out by a certain date. You may be shooting for something like launching it at a book festival or getting it out before you have knee surgery, but plan for that way in advance. Rushing never produces anything good. I’m sure your parents told you that when you were younger. That advice never goes out of style.
2. Carefully Consider the Title and Cover
Get second opinions, lots of them. I have seen (I’m sure you have too) many terrible covers done by indie authors on their own computers. The fact is, we do judge books by their covers. If you are not an accomplished artist, don’t do it. You don’t want to risk having your cover show up on one of these sites. There are stock images sites, and photo sharing sites where you can get images for low cost or for free that are high resolution. For print books your image must be high resolution. But even if you use a quality image, choosing the best font type, size, and color requires a practiced eye. You may think you know what looks good, but obviously many people are getting it wrong. You will also need to consider how it will look online as a thumbnail and how the spine will look. The genre of your book should be considered. Look at others that sell well and study them.
I worked with an artist and saved money by bartering some writing services. I have gotten many compliments on my covers. Most people don’t realize that this cover:
was not created by the publisher who did these two
The most important thing I wish I’d had time to talk about….
3. Get a Professional Editor
During the panel discussion it was mentioned that you’d need to either hire someone or get friends who are really good at it to edit your manuscript. No, no, no! Stop it! Please don’t think your friends, even avid readers and college professors, can edit your books. They may make it better and serve a valuable role in the process, but you need to finish with a pro in order to produce a professional product, one in which the reader doesn’t even notice the editing. Yes, that costs money. Again, planning ahead is critical. Having had some wonderful editors with my traditional books, I knew how valuable that process is. You do need to pay people for the work they do for you. Save your money. Do some freelance magazine writing, take on an extra job, Some people are using crowd funding. I did a little of that with Sofia’s Tune (thank you, contributors!) For my next book I won a grant I applied for to pay for one of the best editors out there.
Anything less than a professional editor will result in a book that is less than it could have been. Who wants that? Even if your book is free from typos and grammatical errors, an editor will have feedback about flow, about the organization, clarity, and word choice. Once you’ve worked with a professional editor, you will understand that a good editor will make you look smarter, and just generally help you be a better writer than you ever thought you could be. Don’t skip it. Don’t skimp. Just don’t.
But here’s an advantage you will have by publishing on your own. You will most likely use a publishing platform like Create Space. Your print books will be print on demand. If you find a mistake you can temporary take that title down, fix the mistakes, and re-post it. Your changes can also be made to your ebooks. By not having thousands printed like a traditional publisher would do, you will not have thousands of books with your name out there with errors.
I should say a word here about copy editors. If you don’t know the difference between a copy editor and a substantive editor, that’s enough to tell you you need a pro. I had a great edit for Sofia’s Tune. I put the book out there. And then I kept finding typos and misspellings that we’d both missed. Not the editor’s fault. She was not doing a copy edit. I happen to have a friend named John who is great at finding those things. He even found mistakes when I was re-publishing a traditionally published book that went out of print that the original editors had not caught. John now goes over all my self-published books at the very end, right before I send them to a formatter (which is another service I hired out. Not expensive and so worth it since ebooks and print books have to be formatted differently.) Try as you might, you WILL miss things in your manuscript. So will your mother and best friend (unless John is your best friend.) Trust me on this.
So Now I Said It
Those are the things I wish I’d said to the room full of writers who came to the panel. They might not read it here, but just in case, I wanted to try. And I hope others stop by to learn a little of what I’ve learned along the way. (And I’m still learning!) Let me know if you have any questions!