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Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction’

This week’s post brought surprise, rage, and embarrassment, all in a single envelope. Also enclosed: a copy of The Timberline Review #7, wherein my story, “The Book of Solomon,” is published.

So, exactly why did receiving a hardcopy of my published work engender such fire and furor?

Read on.

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Hope. Damnable hope.

For most of my life, this has been my Achilles Heel. I simply cannot stop hoping. For things to turn around. For things to get better. For luck to change.

Four years ago (!!) I wrote “The Book of Solomon,” a short story, and started sending it out to markets. After a year an a half of submit-reject-rewrite-resubmit, I called it a day and put the story in the trunk.

Except I didn’t. (more…)

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Some may find it odd that I, a guy who makes his living dealing with data, computers, bugs, and code, am such a fan of low-tech.

It’s not that I dislike technology—I don’t, and I have the phones, tablets, and game consoles to prove it—but while technology has made the lives of millions safer, easier, and more pleasant, it’s also taken us away from our roots, separating our connection to the physical world around us.

Alexander Langlands, an archaeologist who has worked uncovering Britain’s history for decades, thinks much the same way, and in his book, Cræft, he explores some of the most basic skills in human history, skills that require us to touch the world with our hands, and that are intimately tied to our environments and ecosystems. Through historical context and personal experimentation, Langlands shows us how tasks that, today, we might deem very simple—tasks such as digging a trench, weaving cloth, making hay, and thatching a roof—actually require broad experiential knowledge to master. He uses cræft, the Old English of the word craft, to highlight the change in the word’s meaning over the centuries. (more…)

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The problem with good books is that they show me how much I still must improve, to elevate my writing from “good” to “great.”

News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, is one such book. Damn.

An aging veteran travels the backroads in post-Civil War Texas, reading newspaper articles to townsfolk who either can’t read or don’t have access to papers from the big cities. He’s asked to take with him a young girl, captured by the Kiowa when she was six, and bring her back to her relatives near San Antonio. (more…)

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A long-standing obsession of mine has been act 1, scene 2, from Shakespeare’s Richard III. It’s the scene where Richard accosts Lady Anne during a funeral procession and, in the course of a few hundred lines, steers her from unmitigated loathing all the way ’round the bend to a point where she warms to his affection, accepts his ring, and considers his suit for her hand in marriage. Afterward, astonished, Richard asks us:

Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?
Was ever woman in this humour won?

Answer: No. Never. Not in a million years.

The complete implausibility of this scene has always puzzled me. I’ve read analyses of the play, pored through the variorum of the play, all to no avail. Shakespeare, generally quite good at character motivation and development, has shoehorned this relationship into his play, telling us “Just roll with it.”

Why?

My friend Barb, who knew of my curiosity on the topic, recommended I read Sharon Kay Penman’s historical opus, The Sunne in Splendour, a historical novel about Richard III. Now that I have, I’m glad I did, but the book is not without flaws. (more…)

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Bath Abbey Fan VaultingSometimes, the word “interesting” isn’t enough.

This weekend past, as well as being sad, stressful, productive, lazy, and maddening, was also interesting.

It was the 31st anniversary of my wedding. It was the yahrzeit of the death of my wife’s mother. It was a weekend of plans, and of disrupted plans. It was a weekend with three reservations to the same restaurant, each one made and canceled in daily succession. It was a weekend of editing, rereading and rewriting my latest short story (“The Book of Solomon”), proofing it, polishing it, and then sending it off to a paying market.

It was also the weekend when I got an email from the Senior Librarian in Sumner, WA, asking if I’d be interested in participating in a panel, this October.

Yeah, “interesting” doesn’t really cover it.

(more…)

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Stack of BooksFor the past few weeks, I’ve been doing research for The Wolf Tree. It’s been an education, in several ways.

Seattle isn’t like New York or San Francisco or London. I don’t have dozens of books to choose from, rows of scholarly tomes filled with history, details, and anecdotes. (more…)

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