Writing…again

Georgia Guidestones

Image copyright SeanPavonePhoto, via BigStockPhoto

Some writers plot. Some don’t. I happen to belong to the latter category.

When I begin a novel, sometimes I have a vague impression of where I’d like it to go. At other times, not so much.

And another thing. Some writers can determine what they will write. Like, they may decide, “THIS time, I’m gonna write a romance.” Wish I could do that. When I started tappa-tapping the keys a couple of weeks ago, I DID decide I was gonna write a romance. Unfortunately for me, my fingers didn’t get the message.

Now, I’m several thousand words into what promises to be yet another thriller: Scribbles II, sequel to Scribbles.

Have you ever heard of the Georgia Guidestones? AKA, American Stonehenge? When I learned about them a couple of years ago, they crept into the novel I was writing at the time…but they didn’t fit. Red pencil time. I cut them because they didn’t fit that story. But I saved what I’d written about them, thinking one day, some day, maybe, they’d be part of another story.

So. When I started typing recently, expecting a romance to magically appear on my computer monitor, imagine my surprise when I saw the indicators that the Georgia Guidestones were on the horizon in the developing story.

Oh, well. I suppose I have to bow to the inevitable. This story is gonna write itself, and apparently, those granite blocks standing on end in Elbert County, Georgia, with their creepy engraved message, will be part of it.

Let the tappa-tapping continue.

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I’ve Been Tagged!

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

The writers’ blog hop simply asks ten questions about your current story, and then you tag five other writer-blogger friends to participate next week. Bethany Jean over at My Saviour My King tagged me. Thanks Bethany!

I’m posting about Across the Wide River, the third novel in my historical series.

1: What is the working title of your book?
Across the Wide River

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’d written the rough draft of High on a Mountain, the first book in the MacLachlainn saga, and titles for three sequels came to me: Deep in the Valley, Across the Wide River, and On the Red Clay Hills. I didn’t know what the stories would be about, but all I need is a title and a keyboard in front of me, and a story will flow.

3: What genre does your book come under?
It’s historical fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I rarely watch television or go to movies, so I’m totally unfamiliar with the current list of popular actors. However, since my most of the characters are Cherokee, I googled Native American actors and picked these (because of copyright constraints, I’m not posting photos of the actors, but links to photos if you’d care to check them out):

Yonvusdi MacLachlainn, the main character, would be played by Eric Schweig http://avalon-medieval.blogspot.com/2010/01/eric-schweig.html

Coinneach MacLachlainn, Yonvusdi’s uncle, would be played by Adam Beach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Beach

Wayaunega, Coinneach’s uncle, would be played by Wes Studi http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0836071/

Susanne Bertrand would be played by Michelle Trachtenberg http://wallpapersget.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/michelle-trachtenberg-girl-beautiful.jpg

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young boy loses his home when his father dies, and throughout his life, he wants to go home.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It will soon be self-published (currently being edited).
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I tried to write it during NaNo 2009, completed the 50,000 word challenge, but had not done the research necessary to make the historical part of the story accurate. When I began the research phase, I realized I had to throw out everything I’d written and start over again, which I did about a year ago. With all the interruptions I’ve experienced since I started over, it has taken me about a year to write the first draft (or second draft, if you count the discarded NaNo false start).

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a difficult question to answer. There are some elements in Yonvusdi’s childhood with his grandparents in the first part of the book that might be compared to “The Education of Little Tree.” But for the rest of it, which includes the Trail of Tears, for instance, I’m at a loss as to a book to compare it to.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is a continuation of the story of Ailean MacLachlainn’s family, and I was inspired to write Ailean’s story by the experience of the Scottish ancestor of a friend of mine.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One event in the story is one some people have heard of but don’t know much about…the Trail of Tears. Although it’s a painful period in our nation’s history, we need to know what happened then. And I think there’s an inspiring lesson for those who study the history of those days…the Cherokee people suffered the loss of their ancestral lands and lost loved ones (it is estimated that at least 4,000 Cherokees died during The Removal to Oklahoma, and some put that figure as high as 6,000…..and that is out of a population of about 15,000 people). They experienced much hardship, but they didn’t give up. They overcame obstacles that might have destroyed a lesser people, and they survived and are thriving today, both in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

NOTE: The image at the beginning of this post is of the Cherokee Rose. The legend of the Cherokee Rose says that Cherokee mothers cried on the Trail of Tears, and the elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mothers’ spirits. The next day, a beautiful rose began to grow everywhere a mother’s tears fell. The petals were white, representing the mother’s tears, the center of the flower was gold, representing the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and there were seven leaves on each stem, representing the seven clans of the Cherokee. The Cherokee Rose grows wild along the route of the Trail of Tears.

History

Image © Beaucroft via iStockphoto

During my school years, history, with its dates to be memorized and dusty books, didn’t interest me. (Neither did math, for that matter). English was my favorite subject.

Family history was an important topic in my father’s family, though, and I absorbed much of it almost by osmosis. My grandmother made sure that I and my cousins knew what happened to our ancestors, at least, what she had knowledge of. I learned about our Cherokee ancestors, and about Dr. Pierre Chastain, a French Huguenot who fled religious persecution, arriving in Virginia aboard the Mary and Ann in July, 1700. But beyond that, I had little interest in what happened before.

Until, that is, I had children of my own. The thread of continuity became important to me, and I began to care about the people who came before, what their lives were like, and what they did. And not only my own ancestors, but the ancestors of others.

A friend of Scottish descent often spoke of the fact that his Scottish ancestor was a slave on a plantation near Savannah, Georgia. I was skeptical. And since I also had Scottish ancestors, I began researching Scottish history. And found out he was right…Scots had been enslaved at various times and in various circumstances (Have you ever heard of the Redlegs of Barbados? Read this article.)

“Why do so few people know about this?” I wondered. The answer came immediately. Lots of people are like me–they have no interest in history, and although this information is available in history books, they don’t care to read them. And I thought someone should write a novel, should fictionalize the historic record. If it were entertaining, folks might read it and learn what happened.

I deepened my research and chose a major event in the mid-1700s, The ’45, or, The Jacobite Rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised a Highland army to fight for him, to help him reclaim his father’s throne, as the setting of the story. In the aftermath of the last battle of the rebellion, the Battle of Culloden, at least a thousand Highlanders were transported to the American colonies and to the Caribbean, some sold as indentured servants, some as slaves.

And I told the story of that time in the person of Ailean MacLachlainn in High on a Mountain, and I did my utmost to ensure historical accuracy as well as making the story entertaining.

I’ve continued delving into history, following Ailean’s descendants, trying to tell the story of some of the people who went before us.

What about you? Does history interest you?

Flatland

In my post about the mountains of north Georgia, I mentioned that when I was a child growing up, I thought we who lived in Dalton were flatlanders. And I continued thinking that until I went “back home” after many years away.

But as to another idea of flatlanders, I had never heard of the short novel, “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbot, until I attended a lecture by John Clayton. He used concepts from the novel to help illustrate the nature of God, and he raised questions that had never occurred to me.

Like, what is the definition of “time.” (Hint: there is no definition…there are ways we quantify “time,” ways we measure it, but we don’t have a clear definition of it because it is outside our frame of reference. We live in a three dimensional world, and time is the fourth dimension, hence, we don’t have knowledge of it that would allow us to define it or understand it, just as a resident in the two-dimensional world of Flatland cannot conceive of nor understand an object that has three dimensions.)

I was intrigued (and still am) by the concepts Mr. Clayton presented, and I revisit Flatland from time to time. Today, I was surprised to learn there are Flatland movies based on the novel, Flatland: the Movie and Flatland: the Film. I haven’t seen either of them, so I can’t speak about them, positively or negatively. But I am interested in seeing both of them. And if I do, I’ll probably have something to say about them in a later post.

Usually, I’m the last to know about something, and by the time I hear about new things, they aren’t new any more. So you may already have been introduced to the concepts in Flatland. If you have or have not heard of this little novel or the movies based on it, what are your thoughts about it?

…about genre.

When I first began writing last year and experienced writers asked me, “What’s your genre?” the answer was easy. I had one story I was burning to tell, and it was historical.

Now, though, the question is harder to answer, because, after I wrote that first novel, the next novel I wrote was a mystery. (At least, I think it’s a mystery. It has blackmail, a murder, a hitman, a couple of villains…but it also has a romance in it. Confusing.)

Ok. So, now my answer became, “historical and murder mystery.”

But writing short stories using writing prompts lately has muddied the waters. I’ve written fantasy and horror stories, and a couple that I can’t classify.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, please don’t ask what genre I write, because I don’t know any more.

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