Here’s a post I wrote for Bethanne Strasser’s Through the Heart Shaped Glasses blog earlier this month. I thought some of you might appreciate it!
What draws us to history?
Is it the romance of a different time from our own?
Is it what history can show us about ourselves?
How we’re different from or similar to others in the past?
Does it show us links to the people we were, and how we will be in the future?
Does it show us where we’ve diverged when people have made new beginnings?
Do we hope it will give us hints about where to seek in the eternal quest for who we are and where we fit in to this world?
For me, this last reason is why I write in the historical genre. When I began writing, I never thought about all this. I only knew I was drawn to stories of the past. The Dark Ages, the Elizabethan Period, and the Old West equally held me enraptured since even before I began to read myself, for the simple first reason above.
I began researching and writing historical novels only a few years ago. It soon became clear that I was looking for answers to questions in my own history and present. What I discovered has helped me become more comfortable with the person I am.
As I study, I repeatedly ask myself how I can make the information I unearth palatable to someone who might never pick up a book of historical fact, search out an old battle record or travel to a remote graveyard to read the inscription on an old tombstone. Can I offer readers some inkling of what happened in their own town or country to give it the unique flavour it carries today? Some idea of why a certain town emerged just when it did? Most importantly, to shed light upon the reasons a particular society developed the way it has? Perhaps it will provide a piece of the puzzle, which will allow a whole population to try to open the doors previously closed upon the past, allowing healing of the hidden wounds that prevent peaceful cohabitation.
Several towns in the West define themselves as being part of the Pony Express Trail. The stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder played a large part in my understanding of the westward-moving American pioneer, and the peoples and lands they encountered, and how the settlers dealt with adversity. In my first novel, Express Desired, soon to be published, I use Aleksandra, the daughter of a Polish immigrant trapper family, to show snapshots of 1860 life in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains. She must survive when she is left alone in the world, and becomes a “boy” rider for the famed Pony Express.
Although the ‘Pony’ as it was called, only lasted for a mere eighteen months, it still captures the imaginations of thousands, if not millions, of people, even one hundred and fifty years after its inception.
I show some interactions with American Indians in the novel, both positive aspects and negative.
In my second novel, A Sea of Green Unfolding, more than halfway completed, I show aspects of 1860′s history of both the San Francisco Bay Area, (or the part from Redwood City, via La Honda, and through to San Gregorio) and 1863 New Zealand. Discover why Redwood City grew so quickly? Learn why it was called Redwood City. In the same book, I offer the reader aspects of New Zealand history which are certainly not taught in primary, and only rarely in secondary schools here. They are shadowy aspects of our history which portions of our society wish had never happened, and would rather forget. Although almost apologetic, many of those who know are content to bury it beneath the carpet, so most people are unaware of the whole story and resolution cannot be attained. This untold history has shaped us as the people we have become. The conflicts began long ago between the Maori (and before that, the earlier Moriori) people who had already settled New Zealand before Captain Cook came in the 1700′s and the white settlers from England, Europe and Asia. There was wrongdoing on both sides, but much has remained hidden from the general view.
Overall, I hope to effectively use history to paint a picture, so that readers can better understand some of their own past, answer some of their questions about themselves and become more comfortable with their own place in the world.
I’ve just completed my first novel, and am halfway through the second.
About my first novel, Express Desired, an historical Fictional Suspense with Romantic Elements: Seventeen year old Aleksandra Lekarski, alone and running to prevent her pa’s killer from obtaining a secret which could allow world domination by the Czar, conceals herself as a boy Pony Express rider in 1860′s Utah Territory. Her “Californio” boss Xavier Arguello has a spirit to match her own—along with a mutually undeniable attraction—and together they overcome the evil that threatens them.
A Sea of Green Unfolding is the sequel to Express Desired, about a young couple’s journey to adventure from the California of 1862 to the turbulent wilderness of New Zealand. Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly found paradise on their California Rancho and Von Tempsky’s invitation draws them to a new life in New Zealand—where the land wars between the European settlers and the local Maori have only just begun.
I am rewriting my life. I’m the mother of two teenaged boys, a part time hobby farmer, a medieval re-enactor, rapier fighter and archer, a kayaker, a carriage competition driver, a gardener, a singer, a cook and an equine veterinarian with post-doc veterinary certification in equine dentistry. Following a back injury,I work part time at equine veterinary dentistry and part time at high school teaching of Science/Bio/Chem. Mostly, though, I’m writing! I look forward to your visits to my blog and to hearing your thoughts on the above.
Writing Blog: http://lizzitremayne.com
About Me http://about.me/Lizzi_Tremayne
A great post by Kirsten Lamb on Self-Publishing! Reblogged for you!
Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:
When I began writing I was SO SURE agents would be fighting over my manuscript. Yeah. But after almost thirteen years in the industry, a lot of bloody noses, and even more lessons in humility, I hope that these tips will help you. Self-publishing is AWESOME, and it’s a better fit for certain personalities and even content (um, social media?), but we must be educated before we publish.
Mistake #1 Publishing Before We Are Ready
It happened on the way to St Cath’s Faire, an SCA reenactment event, last Sunday near Clevedon.
A massive change in the direction of my new novel, A Sea of Green Unfolding.
It came to me while I drove past the Waihou River (Called the River Thames by Captain Cook when he first landed his longboat there so very long ago), past Cook’s landing site, through Netherton, Ngatea, on and on through the Hauraki Plains. Just after the new motorway portion of SH2 began, I took the road less travelled, the old SH2, then up Lyon’s Road, past Paparimu, through Hunua, to finally arrive at Clevedon.
As I passed the sign for Hunua Falls, it drew me. I’d never seen them, but I promised myself I’d find them on the way home….. because I knew they needed to be in the story… in a big way.
Wow… They took my breath away.
I found the Hunua Falls, buried deep in what would have been the “vast untrodden Hunuas” in 1863, if it were in a book by Jack Lasenby*. They are nothing less than awesome… and as of that day, will play a big part in the novel.
While I was in Clevedon, I “accidentally” met someone who could answer many of my questions. Out on a walk in the forest there, I met a woman who’s lived there for the past 50 years… and she was… at a meeting of the local historical society the previous night….
Now, I don’t really think there’s such a thing as coincidence anymore… Just the Universe looking after me… And hopefully you, my reader!
Watch this space!
*Jack Lasenby, whose books I would highly recommend for bush Kiwiana: Harry Wakatipu Comes the Mong… If you’ve ever dreamed of “going bush”, being a “real bloke”, or a “deer culler”, you owe it to yourself to read this book, and others of his! Even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool “non-reader” who loves to go bush, you’ll love this.
One description: from Timeout.co.nz……”The third title in an outrageously entertaining collection of tall tales about a 12-year-old Urewera hunter with a moustache and a sneaky, greedy old pack-horse called Harry Wakatipu is another marvellous adventure story that is full of crazy characters and bizarre experiences. Harry is supposed to help but spends most of his time sleeping, telling lies and eating tins of condensed milk. And he farts a lot! Rich in off-beat humour and bushlore, this latest novel from a legendary storyteller is ideal for ages 9 to 13, particularly boys.”
It’s also for anyone who wants to laugh till their guts hurt!
Not only did I survive November, my month of writing for NaNoWriMo, where one commits to writing 50,000 words of a novel… in 30 days…, but I’ve ‘Won’, or successfully completed the requirements!
now has a sequel:
Just received an email from NaNo… with the following excerpt:
‘You did it! You reached the rarefied summit of 50,000 words, so it’s time to start celebrating your achievement.
Winning NaNoWriMo is no easy feat: more than 300,000 people signed up for NaNo, but you’re one of just 41,940 writers who had the creative chutzpah, derring-do, and outright stamina to cross the finish line. Pat yourself on the back profusely, do a jig or two, and make sure to visit the Winner Page for all sorts of celebratory whoops and hollers. And, just to remind you, we’ll send out details about collecting your winner’s prizes on December 5.
We hope you’ll keep your fantastic creative energy alive…’
… then I did the maths… I was one of only 13%! Made me feel good!
Now to continue this spate of writing!
On the final day, I wrote 5,600 words… which just proves to me that 2500-2900/day is a quite reasonable writing rate.
My new goal.
I thank those of you who have supported me in my goal, Elliot, Dave, the wild ladies of my NaNo 2013 FB group and all those others who have kicked me back to my computer!
Time to get back to writing…
Good thing it’s pouring outside today. Already been out in it working in the yard for two and a half hours…
Have an awesome day.
Well, first day, I didn’t make my goal of 1700 words on the new novel I began on 1 November,
A Sea of Green Unfolding,
the sequel to Express Desired, wherein
Aleksandra and Xavier are still reeling from the death of their first newborn child when they discover that they have lost Rancho de las Pulgas, their old Spanish land grant held by Xavier’s family for generations. An invitation from von Tempsky in New Zealand offers the escape they desire and draws the young couple to start a new life in the Coromandel goldfields. Challenges separate the pair as they journey to their destination, but they are finally reunited again in the turbulent wilderness of 1862 New Zealand—only to become immersed in the land wars between the European settlers and the local Maori, which have only just begun.
Yesterday, however, I nearly caught up. Today I will be caught up and pass day 3′s goal of 6100 words.
My favourite part of the writing so far (it’s the first draft, so please be kind…) :
She felt her heart could sink no further. Pushing aside the bedroll tied over her saddlebags, she pulled out a locket on a fine silver chain and clutched it to her heart before clasping it round her neck and letting it drop inside her neckline between her still-engorged breasts, the tears again falling swiftly as she looked west, up into the hills. A memory of her mother’s voice came unbidden…
‘I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help…’
She resolutely set her jaw and turned back to face the masts in the distance before her, one hand gripping the locket through her buckskin shirt and the other on the reins. The wharf at Redwood Creek was full of ships, she could see, even from this far away. The houses and buildings of Redwood City, the county seat of San Mateo County, clustered near the road leading to the embarcadero. Rough workers huts near the water’s edge emptied as the men trudged towards the wharves on the deepwater channel, nodding their heads to her as they headed for a day shifting timber, shingles, hay and wheat from laden wagons onto rafts, ships and barges headed for San Francisco and beyond. The smell of the tanneries turned her stomach as she rode past them and she put a hand over her mouth and nose, as if she could stop the smell. From the alley between the blacksmith shop and the shipbuilding yard, several men turned to stare at her and one whistled low under his breath, but she never glanced their way. The courthouse loomed on her left, the newly begun fire station beside it, but she barely saw them, her goal Dr.Tripp and Mr. Parkhurst’s road west into the mountains, heading for Arroyo Honda, and the coast. She’d never seen the ocean. Under the circumstances, it seemed like the thing to do.
Back to it. Just wanted to send out an update!
Have a great day, and to those of you doing NaNoWriMo,
GO FOR IT! SEE YOU AT THE FINISH!
PS, to those of you who have asked, Express Desired is with an agent in New Jersey. I hope to hear from her any day now whether or not she’s keen to run with it!