Meet My Main Character

I’m playing along in the most recent blog tag game. This one has me sharing my main character with you. I was tagged by historical novelist Kim Rendfeld, author of The Cross and the Dragon and the forthcoming The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar.

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
My main character is Snow White. Both fictional and historic!

When and where is the story set?
Snow White and the Queen takes place in a standard fairy-tale world, with dwarfs, elves, wisps and an evil Queen.

What should we know about him/her?
My Snow White is a more well-developed character than the one you know from the original fairy tale. She is left with the dwarfs as a baby, and as she grows she wonders why she was left there. Who is she? Where did she come from? When she leaves the dwarf kingdom, she is searching for her identity.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
We, the reader, know that the Queen wants Snow White dead, and Snow White eventually learns this too.

What is the personal goal of the character?
At first, Snow White wants to learn who she is and why she was left with the dwarfs. When she learns that the Queen is her enemy, she decides that she will defeat the Queen.

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
My working title is Snow White and the Queen. I have talked about this story in another blog hop and as part of my 2013 NaNoWriMo project.

When can we expect the book to be published?
Snow White and the Queen is being submitted to agents at the moment. A publication date will hopefully be forthcoming.

Now it is my turn to tag some author friends:

Sandy Brehl, author of Odin’s Promise

Stephanie Golightly Lowden, author of Jingo Fever

and historical novelist Rebecca Henderson Palmer .

You can visit these authors’ websites next week to learn about their main characters.

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Writing Process: A Blog Hop

Tinney Heath, author of A Thing Done, invited me to participate in this blog hop and answer four questions about my writing process.

What are you working on?  Presently, I have two projects going:

Snow White and the Queen is a middle-grade fantasy novel, offering a new twist on the traditional fairy tale. Hidden from the Queen and raised in the dwarf kingdom, Snow White leaves the kind but memory-challenged dwarfs to discover her identity.  Mischievous elves, a devoted will-o-wisp and a loggerheaded huntsman all help Snow White become what she was always destined to be.  I finished the first draft of this story in January. I’m on my third or fourth revision. I hope to be sending it out soon.

The Stepsister is a steam-punk Cinderella story narrated by Drusilla, who is so obsessed with science and her father’s death that she is oblivious to the daily doings of the rest of her family. It’s the Cinderella story, told from a new perspective, with surprising plot twists that come, in part, from the steampunk world.  I’m about half-way through the first draft.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

My fairy tales offer more in the way of character development than that found in traditional fairy tales.  When I read, I am most interested in character, and when I write it is the same.  I focus on the development of personality, which then makes the behaviors of characters both understandable and believable.  Although I follow the basic fairy tale plot, both of my stories include additional conflicts and subplots which, I hope, give the stories more depth and make them more interesting.

Why do you write what you do?

I write what I would like to read.  I love adaptations of fairy tales, so I wanted to try my own hand at that.  My favorite of these so far is Marissa Meyer‘s The Lunar Chronicles, which I recommend to everyone.  I love historical fiction too, and my first three novels are all in that genre.

How does your writing process work?

I write linearly.  First chapter, second chapter, on and on to the end.  In my head, I know the big scenes and what will happen at the end, and I write to those places.  I have both electronic files and paper notes in which I keep my tentative outline, research details, and other things that I don’t want to forget.

I work best when I have a block of two or three hours to write.  Unfortunately, as a teacher and a mother, I don’t get those blocks of time every day.  My goal is one afternoon or one morning a week.  Each semester, that is a different day, and I try to schedule and stick to that block of time. No cleaning, no errands, no appointments.  Three hours, once a week is for writing.  The rest of the week, of course, I think about the story I’m creating. Walking to work, I think.  Lying in bed, I think.  In the shower, in the pool, in the car driving my children to all their activities, I think.  When my writing time comes, I’m ready to go.

In between those blocks of time, I sometimes do revisions and small additions to what I’ve already written.  These quick-edits can be done in a shorter time period and they keep my story pretty clean.

In my once-a-week writing session, I average about 1000 words.  This isn’t much, but it adds up over time.  My adult novels each took about three years to write. My children’s stories have taken less time.

In November, I participate in NaNoWriMo, which increases my word count considerably.  I devote more evening and weekend time to writing, and spend less time cleaning, cooking, and being with my family.  Since it is only one month a year, I don’t feel as guilty.

The Blog Hop

tinneyMany thanks to Tinney Heath for tagging me. Tinney’s A Thing Done, tells the story of the  jester who became a pawn in the feud between two noble families in thirteenth century Florence. Her story is suspenseful, beautifully written, with exquisite historical detail.

I now tag Anna Belfrage and Christopher Cevasco, whose writing processes I look forward to reading about.

anna belfrageOn March 17, visit Anna Belfrage:
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing and time-consuming interests, namely British History and writing. These days, Anna spends almost as much time writing and researching as she does working, which leaves little time for other important pursuits such as cooking and baking.
Anna Belfrage is the author of The Graham Saga – so far five of the total eight books have been published. Set in seventeenth century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, The Graham Saga tell the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.
Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel.

chris cevascoOn March 31, visit Christopher Cevasco:
Christopher writes fiction inspired by history. His short stories have appeared in Black Static and the Prime Books anthologies Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War and Zombies: Shambling through the Ages, among numerous other magazines and anthologies. From 2003 to 2009, he was also the editor/publisher of the award-winning Paradox: the Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction.  He is seeking representation for a recently completed historical thriller about Lady Godiva and is currently working on a novel of English resistance and rebellion in the years immediately following the Norman Conquest.

Learn more about Christopher at his website: http://www.christophermcevasco.com/blog/

Syncopation’s Corner of the Book Fair

book fair graphic

Welcome to my corner of the Historical Novelists’ Four-Day Book Fair. About forty authors are participating, so be sure to visit many of the fair’s books.

This is the stall for Syncopation: A Memoir of Adèle Hugo

syncopation coverWriter. Composer. Seductress. Liar.

For humans there is only memory, and memory is unreliable.

In nineteenth-century France, a woman’s role was explicitly defined: she was a daughter, then a wife, then a mother. This view was held by novelist and poet Victor Hugo, but not by his daughter, pianist and poet Adèle Hugo. Under such constraints, what’s a woman of passion to do? Syncopation breathes life into the unconventional thoughts of this controversial female figure. An elderly Adèle recounts her desperate attempts to gain personal freedom. Her memoir blurs the fine line between truth and madness, in a narrative that is off-kilter, skewed, syncopated.

Order your copy of Syncopation, from Cornerstone Press.  Want to know more about the story?  Read on:

Prologue

To life there is a rhythm one knows from the womb. It begins as the beat of a mother’s heart–slow and steady and safe. An infant finds the pulse in its own heart and continues the rhythm in its needy sucking. The toddler pitter-pats to the rhythm, and the sound of the servants starting the day carry it through.  The pulse is in the wind and the laps of the waves from the Seine; birds sing it and squirrels chitter it; the very soil under out feet moans and groans to its pounding.

In perfect time, from an especially forceful contraction, the baby fell into waiting hands. She screamed in blows staccato and clear, slowing rhythmically to a docile cooing more in tune to her station in life. Adèle was born an angel to a family of gods. Her father, Victor, was a poet, playwright, and politician, brilliant and beloved by his countrymen. She was named for her mother, the first Adèle,the most beautiful woman in France. Her brothers, Charles and François-Victor, were handsome, strong, and clever. And her sister, Léopoldine, was a model eldest sibling—doting and tender, never scolding or haughty. Her skin was a translucent mountain stream: cool and fresh and clean; her generous black hair captured the light and returned it in a blue sheen which mocked the night sky; the moon would hide when Léopoldine went out at night, the orb’s beauty waning in her glow. She was sweet like marzipan, gentle like a summer breeze, flexible like a reed, warm like an old Bordeaux. Léopoldine was perfect like a pearl.

Firecrackers exploded and people shouted when Adèle was born. It was July 28, 1830, the middle day of Les Trois Glorieuses, the three-day revolution protesting the tyrannies of King Charles X. With such a birthday, one knew at once that Adèle was born for glory and fame.

The Hugo house was the first on the newly constructed rue Jean-Goujon, with the wide fields of the Champs-Elysée as their backyard. The family had everything one could desire: parkland to explore, books to read, a small black piano, and each other.

And then one day, as a unit, this perfect family gasped. Those who survived missed a half-beat from the breath of life. If it had been a whole note, they could have perhaps fallen back into the rhythm, but it was a half-beat. They syncopated. They moved out of step, off-kilter. Forever more, they would run and jump and dream and scream, but they would be unable to slip into that easy rhythm, that regular beat that keeps time for the world.

What are you doing, Dédé?

I’m writing my memoires, Didine.

You’ve not written them in first person, Dédé. Why do you write Adèle as if you are not Adèle?

It is necessary. I will have more freedom in third person. I can explore the minds of others; I can write about places I have not been.

Do you think that is a good idea?

If I thought it were a bad idea, I would not do it.

–Au contraire, responded Didine.  You would do it exactly because it is a bad idea. I see a sparkle in your eye at the idea of committing mayhem. These “memoires” will surely make people angry.

Who will become angry? All of the people who might become angry are dead.

They have left behind children. The children will surely try to stop you.

Stop the truth? I feel an obligation to let the truth be known.

Whose truth? asked Didine.

Is there not but one truth? responded Dédé.

Perhaps for God. For humans there is only memory and memory is unreliable.

Thanks for visiting my virtual book fair stall.  From here, I recommend visiting Cornerstone Press and checking out other authors’ virtual stalls.

Blog Hop!

Jessica Knauss has initiated a blog hop to allow book fans a chance to read excerpts from a number of historical novelists. Welcome if you have come here from her page. Go there next, if you started here. My excerpt from Syncopation: A Memoir of Adèle Hugo is below:

Pulling off her gloves, she placed her palms and right cheek against the stone wall. “I like how the cold moves into my blood. I can feel the music, even when there is no service; the building stores the sound of the music. I can hear hymns sung a hundred years ago.”

Adèle opened her eyes and saw him standing several paces from the building. “Come,” she said, tugging at him. “You’re not feeling the cathedral.” She removed his hat, and, threading her fingers through his hair, gently pressed his head against the cold stone. “Close your eyes and feel Notre Dame.”

Auguste closed his eyes, but he felt only the nearness of Adèle, and her palm against his temple.

Now hop on back to Jessica Knauss’s website and visit some other authors.