Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Writer Wednesday at Fantasy Debut

I should mention that it's Writer Wednesday at Fantasy Debut. We have a Featured Writer--Jennifer Estep of Bigtime (the name of her series) fame. We're having a roundtable on Unsavory Protagonists and Assorted Bad Guys. Jennifer is friendly and accessible, and it's been great fun.

Join us! This will be going on at least another day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random Updates

Wow; it's been over a week since I last blogged. Busy week. We spent the weekend at a homeschooling convention. Homeschooling is our last choice because we tried EVERYTHING else. Most schools won't take my daughter and the ones that will are either bedlam or frightfully expensive. My daughter can't learn in bedlam--who can?--and our resources are better spent elsewhere than tuition. So, homeschool it is. Or rather, "nontraditional private school" since we aren't technically homeschoolers.

Not conductive to the muse. So I am editing. I finished incorporating Katie's edits into Forging a Legend--thanks, Katie!-- and now I am polishing. Lots of things have changed since 2005, when I wrote this novel, including my word choices. So I'm going through the whole thing, paragraph by paragraph. The lovely Lisa and Kristin have both volunteered to reread it when I am finished. I don't know what it is about this book; I'm just not willing to give it up.

Regarding East of Yesterday: I'm feeling grateful that I had a grandparent born in 1895. She was very old when I was in high school--much older than my friends' grandmothers. No one else had a grandparent born in the previous century. She had WONDERFUL stories when I was growing up. She always called Woolworth's the "five and dime". I learned all about the lunch counters that they used to have there, and various other details I was able to incorporate in this brief scene:

A waitress stopped before him. "What's your name?" she asked.

"Mike," he said before he remembered to use his last name.

She seemed unfazed by his informality. "Well, Mr. Mike--what'll it be?"

"Oh, some coffee and scrambled eggs, I guess."

Someone joined him on his right. "Morning," he said as he opened his paper.

Mike glanced at him. He was in a suit similar to his. "Morning," he replied.

The waitress thumped a teacup and saucer before him, and filled it with coffee. He looked around for creamer, but all he saw was a little metal milk pitcher. He took it and poured some in, then dug some sugar cubes out of a bowl with a spoon and dropped them in.

He decided to start his housekeeper search here. He would probably be seeing these men every morning, after all. It would be a step above hiring someone through an ad.

"Anyone know of someone looking for a housekeeper job?"

Silence. Then a "Nope," and a "Not me."

Mike stirred his coffee and wondered how long it would take for the sugar cubes to dissolve.

"If you don't mind a Negro, I know someone," the guy on his left said.

And ugh--an agent has had the complete MS for Starcaster for almost four months!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I've Decided - It's Historical

Despite the warnings of my fellow bloggers, Kimber An and Katie, I am writing a novel that fits into the classification of "historical." It's my time travel fantasy, but I've decided that it fits into the genre of "historical" more than anything else. It's about as much fantasy as Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is. No one considers Outlander a fantasy, although it has fantasy elements to allow for the time travel. My novel is much the same. Therefore, when I shop it, my top choice agents will represent both fantasy and historical.

I even have settled on a historical-novel-sounding title: East of Yesterday. That's definitely not a fantasy title.

Since it's a time travel novel, I'm not limited to one particular era. Here are the eras I'm writing about so far:
  • Colonial St. Augustine, during which time it was under British rule,
  • The last Spanish occupation of St. Augustine,
  • St. Augustine during the Civil War, during which time it was occupied by Union soldiers,
  • St. Augustine during the and after the 1914 fire,
  • St. Augustine during the 1964 Civil Rights demonstrations,
These eras are visited by Henry, a Colonial-era farmer, as he travels "north" in time. Ashley and Mike take a road trip south in time, starting in Columbia, SC and ending in St. Augustine, all of which I've already written about in the posts below. They meet in the 1920s--except they've met before. It has been so much fun to write.

So my novel covers almost 250 years. Since the South was segregated during the 20s, I'm also writing about that. Right now, Ashley is interviewing a young black woman who was fired from her last housekeeper position after being falsely accused of stealing a ring.

Since the novel is recent history, I'm wondering if I should avoid any historical names. The Flagler family was very prominent in St. Augustine during this timeframe. Do I mention them by name, or do I invent a different family? They won't have a big role in the novel, but they had such a huge impact on development in St. Augustine (and much of the East Coast of Florida) that it would almost be remiss to omit them.

~*~

Ok, I wrote all of the above last week, and then forgot to post it. I was in the middle of dealing with all these questions when Katie's feedback for Forging a Legend arrived in the mail. I just wanted to send a public thank you her way for her wonderful feedback. She discovered a VERY LARGE inconsistency resulting from a deleted scene that I probably would have missed despite a rereading because I'm just too close to the novel, and I've read it too many times. So now I'm sitting here trying to decide whether I put the scene back in, or rip some more scenes out, with possible more repercussions down the line.

Writing -- it's a wonderful, crazy life!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Time Travel Fantasy

I've plunged right into the middle of my time travel fantasy, leaving the opening chapters incomplete. I did this on purpose. There's absolutely no use spending a lot of time on the opening chapters when I know I'll go back and rewrite them. I have the first chapter written, where my characters take a road trip from the 2010s to the 1970s. Then, I just jumped back in time to the 1920s, their destination. In the final version, they'll take the road trip all the way back in time. When they get to the 40s, they are going to trade their vehicle in for a 1920s model, which they'll use to cruise all the way to their destination. But I'm not going to bother writing that yet.

As part of my "research", we took a road trip up US-1 into Georgia. We stopped off at the Okefenokee Swamp Park. At the entrance, the alligators were right there; no walls between them and us. They could have easily run up the bank and chased us to our car. However, it was a hot day, and alligators are cold-blooded creatures. They're just not going to move fast for any old reason.

It made me think of my characters. There's a long patch of nothing between Waycross and Folkston. Imagine them cruising along in some rattletrap vehicle when Ashley--who drank too much iced tea in Waycross--can't hold it in any longer. She makes a pit stop on the side of the road. And there she is, with her dress hiked up, when she finds herself in a staring contest with an alligator.

Is that too cruel? (Imagine diabolical authorial laughter here.)

And railroad crossings. I can imagine Mike breezing through them until they have a close encounter with a train in an era where there are no crossing guards. (In Arizona, many rural railroad crossings still have no gaurds. There's simply a stop sign. Here in Florida, every road--no matter how insignificant--seems to have a crossing guard.)

I'm having to do a LOT of research. I don't know whether St. Augustine was electrified in the early 1920s. Since the Rural Electrification Act wasn't until the 30s, I'm not sure. Most urban areas were, but I would hardly think that St. Augustine would qualify as "urban". For that matter, did St. Augustine still have gas lights during that era? The lighthouse--which is on an island--wasn't electrified until 1936. Oh, and I see the lighthouse's keeper's house was electrified in 1925, which might indicate that St. Augustine proper was being electrified a few years previously. I might have to actually go and look through the microfiche of the St. Augustine Record, something I have not done since my college days. Or, I could look up the local electric company's history. (Microfiche sounds funner.)

And that's just one of my questions!