Monday, December 27, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Marguerite uses the tale to illustrate how "[love] makes women lose all fear, and torments men to arrive at their ends." Some of the tale's listeners praise the servant girl for "liv[ing] for a long while to her heart's content, by means of her stratagem." Others condemn her, claiming "there is no perfect pleasure unless the conscience is at rest." What do you think?
In any case, stay clear of ghosts, lovelorn or not, tonight!
[Excerpt from The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre, published by Gates & Co. in 1877. No translator given. Courtesy of Google Books.]
Friday, October 29, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Anna Elliott has written two volumes of the TWILIGHT OF AVALON series (Touchstone), as well as numerous short stories, despite being the mother of two very young daughters. Recently, I asked Anna how she manages to get so much writing accomplished as a stay-at-home mom. Here is what she shared.
Writing and Mothering
by Anna Elliott
I have two girls, ages 3 and 1, home with me full time, and one of my absolute most frequently asked questions is: where on earth do you find the time to write with two small children in the house? Now, let me say that really in answer to that question what I should do first of all is hold up a photo of my husband. Because there is no way I could write the books I do without his constant daily help and support both with the girls and with every other aspect of my career.
But after my husband, there are a few strategies I've worked out for finding the time to write: I set a strict daily word count goal (1000 words per day) and until I reach that goal, every minute of time I can squeeze out goes into meeting it. I get up early, and try to devote that time when the house is silent and free of distractions to getting my mind into my story for the day. That helps hugely, and allows me to keep the story simmering in the back of my mind even while I'm with the kids. I let myself daydream--well, actually I would say I insist on daydreaming. When the girls are playing quietly and I'm making lunch, I fill up my mind with my story, go over and over the words and the scenes and the chapters, work out what needs to be changed and where I should go from here.
It can be hard, sometimes. There are days when no matter how hard I try, 1000 words is simply not going to happen or when my head feels like it's going to explode with the effort of keeping track of the story and the chaos two small children can create. And then, too, I think one of the unique challenges that writing historical fiction presents is the sheer amount of research involved. And there's a part of my mind that craves a daily word count like a chocoholic craves fudge. A part of my mind that sits in a sulky huddle all day long if it does not GET a word count. But with two little ones, I can either research or I can write, I usually don't have time for both in a single day. So there are times when I have to make myself pause with the story and just immerse myself in the research for awhile.
It will get easier. That was what I used to tell myself : this will all get easier as the girls get older. And then an amazing thing happened. My three year old said to me, "Soon you won't be a mommy anymore, you know, because I'm going to be a grown up." (I assured her that she might grow up, but she was stuck with me as a mommy for life). But at the same time it struck me--she is in a way RIGHT. Soon--all too soon--I will NOT be a mommy of a 3 and a 1 year old anymore. And what do I want them to remember from these years? That their mommy was the kind of person who every day told herself, "This will all get easier someday?" Good grief, no! I want my girls to remember that their mama loved them so much it fired out her eyes like laser beams and made every day magic. SO, okay. I am a writer and I am a mama to two tiny girls. I needed to figure out a way to make those two facts not just 'hard but something that will get easier' but rather something that is AWESOME. I needed 'I am a writer and I am a mama' to be awesome NOW.
I started telling my girls stories. When they were in the bath, I would tell them about two little girls who were taking a bath and then one day--splash!--a mermaid flew out of the faucet and landed in the tub. The other day Isabella, my oldest, was playing with play-dough and gave me a lump telling me to make something. Now, I am not exactly Rodin in the sculpting department, but I can make sort of okay looking turtle. Round head, round body, five pinches for feet and a tail, right? So I gave Isabella this turtle and told her he was named Timmy Turtle and had always wanted to be a chef. I mean, his entire emotional raison d'etre since he had pecked his little turtle-y way out of his shell had been the dream of someday becoming a play-dough chef and making play-dough cookies. And (after adventures which I will spare you here) he had heard that there was a little girl named Isabella here who could finally, finally teach him how to make cookies from play-dough . . .
My girl LOVED it. She sat my little Timmy the Turtle down on the table next to her and started addressing him very seriously, "Now you see, Timmy, first you have to roll out the dough really smooth . . ." Then she asked for mommy, daddy, grandma, and grandpa turtles for Timmy, loaded the whole turtle family onto a plate and gave them all a tour of our house.
How long am I going to be able to make life magical that way for her? Before I know it, she's going to be a teenager with her own life and her own friends, and I'll say, 'Please come and spend time with me! Mama could make an amazingly badly executed turtle out of play-dough again!' And she will give me the quintessential 'you've got to be kidding me' teenage girl look.
As long as I have libraries and books and computers and a reasonably functioning mind, I will always be able to write more stories about Dark Age Britain. But the story about Timmy Turtle? That story has such an incredibly short window of opportunity. Better tell it--and love that I can tell it--now.
Wise words, indeed. All I can say is Anna's daughters are incredibly lucky to have such magical mother, just as we're lucky to have the chance to read their mother's marvelous stories!
Anna is a regular contributer to the writing website Writer Unboxed. If you enjoyed her article here, be sure to check out her column there. Her website includes articles on writing and publishing, as well as links to her short stories and background information on the TWILIGHT OF AVALON series.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
1. How important is history to the rats of the Catacombs? How does their memory of the past shape their present actions and their plans for the future?
History is extremely important to them. Their tumultuous past is what drives them to change their future. They once had a peaceful existence, but were taken over by a horrible dictator--High Minister Killdeer. And after eleven years of oppression, the rats finally fight back.
2. Did you have any particular eras of American or world history in mind as you wrote NIGHTSHADE CITY? Did you model any of your characters on historical figures?
There is a very French revolutionary feel to them. Omar Rayyan, the illustrator picked up on that right away--they are ragtag in appearance, but charming all the same. I didn't model them after any historical figures in particular, but I'd say some of the main characters, specifically the bad ones, are an amalgamation of some particularly wicked rulers in world history. My editor says my rats are very Dickensian--they are quite well spoken, I must say!
3. When you were creating your rat society, how far back and in how much detail did you construct their history?
Their history goes back several generations, revealing how the Catacombs came to be and why they are so very dear to the rats that dwell within. KINGS OF TRILLIUM, Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles, goes even further back into their history, revealing why they are so unique compared to other rats--even other creatures.
4. What ideas would you like your young readers to take away from the book regarding the relationship of past to present?
I want readers to realize change is possible. No matter what odds are against you or how unattainable something seems to be--change can happen, but you have to make the change yourself. You have to step up and say, "No more." I want readers to realize that it's never acceptable for a few to decide the fate of many. You have a choice.
5. Are there any YA works of historical fiction you'd like to recommend?
Since I like novels with a creepy charm, I have to recommend An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi. Post Civil War grave robbing--what could be finer? ;)
6. What are you working on next?
I have a new animal series in the works, which I cannot talk about, per my publisher--top secret stuff and it couldn't be more different than NIGHTSHADE CITY! I'm also thinking about Book III of the Nightshade Chronicles, which will reveal the rats' full history, with some shocking twists about where they came from and what they really are.
Thanks so much for having me, Julianne. The history in my book is so important to the story and I never fully realized how my rats have such a deep, intricate history and at times quite a messy one! ;)
Be sure to visit Ms. Wagner's website for more information about the book, including a lengthy excerpt.
NIGHTSHADE CITY is available on-line, at Barnes and Noble stores nationwide and Indie Booksellers as well.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Fascinating article by scholar Lisa Jardine on the use of commissioned tapesty and other artwork to proclaim the power, influence and cultivation of their owners on the international stage in the sixteenth century. An excerpt:
As part of the preparations for an unprovoked military attack on Muslim forces in North Africa in 1535, the Hapsburg Emperor Charles V hired the same Pieter Coeck van Aelst and the artist Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen from Haarlem in the Netherlands to travel with his military retinue and record the progress of the campaign for propaganda purposes. By late July the Imperial forces had conquered Tunis. The campaign was - as Charles V had hoped - a surprise victory over the increasingly invulnerable Muslim forces, and a blow to the international prestige of the French king, Francis I, who had declined to be drawn into a North African war.
On Charles V's return, no expense was spared in creating a magnificent tapestry series, The Conquest of Tunis, based on Coeck's and Vermeyen's eye-witness drawings, and a room in the imperial palace at Toledo was constructed to house the twelve panels of the series. Thereafter they often travelled with the Emperor - carefully rolled, and stacked on purpose-built wagons - to be unfurled on the occasion of a state visit, to remind those attending an Imperial gathering of the awesome power of the Habsburgs.
The article includes photographs of the Acts of the Apostles tapestries designed by Raphael and executed by the same Pieter Coeck van Aelst, presently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Yesterday saw the release of Catherine Delors's second novel, FOR THE KING (Dutton). To celebrate the release, Catherine has stopped by to answer a few questions about the book, herself, and writing in general.
1. The historical note at the end of the book describes the fascinating life of the historical Joseph-Pierre Picot de Limoëlan, who later became a Catholic priest. Did Limoëlan ever publicly express regret for his part in the rue Nicaise attack? Did the Sisters of the Visitation in Georgetown, with whom he ministered, know his true identity and the story of his past?
To my knowledge, Limoëlan never publicly expressed regret over the part he played in the Rue Nicaise attack. He moved shortly afterwards to the United States, where the event may not have caused as much of a shock as in Europe. As for the sisters of the Visitation in Georgetown, it seems highly unlikely that they were ignorant of his past. They knew, but they believed in redemption, one of the tenets of the Catholic faith. As I write in my historical note, I am convinced that Limoëlan’s belated repentance and conversion were sincere.
2. The resistance of the Chouans to the republic and to Napoleon is a chapter of French history little familiar to American readers. Were the Chouans a force to be reckoned with or a mere annoyance? How close did they come to reinstating the king?
The Chouans were a major political and military force. On Rue Nicaise they came only a few seconds away from blowing up Napoléon. Had his coachman been less alert that night, they would have assassinated him right then and there, years before he crowned himself Emperor.
It may not be generally known, but in the spring of 1815, the Chouan insurgency had been revived. A full French division was again busy battling them in the Western provinces, instead of being under Napoléon’s command at Waterloo, hundreds of miles away. The French forces were outnumbered almost two to one on that battlefield, so you could say the Chouans changed the fate of Europe that day. Ultimately they were instrumental in the defeat and ouster of Napoléon.
3. How did you become interested in the rue Nicaise attack?
The 9/11 attacks prompted me to revisit the Rue Nicaise plot. The number of casualties is without common measure, of course, but it was the same callous disregard for human life, the same blind hatred, all in the name of a superior “cause.”
4. Your secondary characters, such as the Secretary General Piis, and even characters who figure only momentarily in the novel, like Pulchérie Fontaine, seem as real and three-dimensional as your main characters. Do you do a lot of work developing your characters before you begin writing? What, in your mind, is the "secret" to creating believable characters?
Thanks, Julianne! For historical characters, I do my biographical research beforehand. I love to work with lesser known figures like Piis, where there is little more than a sketch of the real person. Then, as I write, they come to life by themselves, and sometimes they quite surprise me. For purely fictional characters like Roch, I have no idea of what they will become when I begin writing. That’s the magic of the novel: characters are pretty much autonomous from the author.
5. How has your training as an attorney influenced your writing style and/or habits?
In many ways. For instance, in FOR THE KING, it was fascinating to follow the sweeping legal changes that followed the Rue Nicaise attack, and to deconstruct the many outrageous miscarriages of justice that ensued.
6. What advice to you have for aspiring authors? What do you see as the future of historical fiction?
My advice to aspiring authors? Brace yourself! This is not a business for the faint of heart. Publication is only one step on a long, long road… The future of historical fiction? I wish I knew the answer, with the business of publishing at large very much in flux. Frankly I don’t think anyone can answer the question at this point.
7. Which of each of the two choices best describes you? Comment as you see fit.
-- tea or coffee? I am a self-confessed tea addict. I like coffee, but the feeling is not mutual.
-- mountains or seashore? I love both! My mixed Auvergne and Normand ancestries, I suppose…
-- morning or evening? Evening.
-- soccer or tennis? I usually prefer soccer, but after the performance of the French team at the World Cup… enough said.
-- kir or pastis? Kir.
-- designer boutique or bargain basement? With your permission, Julianne, I will stick with the bargain basement until FOR THE KING hits the NYT list.
-- millefeuille or bagel? Millefeuille, hands down.
-- Balzac or Hugo? Balzac, a childhood –and lifelong- love. I read EUGENIE GRANDET dozens of times, always with a renewed sense of wonder.
-- longhand or computer? I am dyslexic, which makes it very difficult for me to handwrite. Computers are a blessing for people like me.
-- carriage or horseback? Horseback. More flexibility!
Catherine has surrendered all her secrets, but the characters in FOR THE KING are much harder nuts to crack. See if you can figure out what they're hiding before Roch solves the case. Enter the drawing to win a copy of Catherine's fabulous book or pick one up one at your local bookstore.
Thanks for playing, Catherine!