Tag Archives: #writing #histfic #novelwriting

The Soldier’s Return #historicalfiction

The Soldier’s Return

Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy

Germany, 1626

A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape in the territories situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But reliSoldiersReturn 700kgion only plays a minor role in this very lucrative business of war. What better way to wage war than with underpaid, starving, sick, desperate mercenary soldiers?

Direct in the path of these marauding mercenaries lies the once-idyllic farm called Sichardtshof. The master and the maid have lived here the last ten years in a semblance of peace but teetering on the edge of destruction. The attacks are more frequent and the soldiers are more brutal than before. With the soldiers come disease, the plague. And Franconia has found scapegoats to blame for all this misfortune. Witch hunts and executions are more prevalent than ever.

The Soldier’s Return, Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy, revisits Katarina and Isabeau and their journey of survival in the lawless German countryside of the early 17th century.

The Soldier’s Return-to be released in March 2017! 

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The Real Witch Story #mondayblogs

Kirche-und-Teufel

Kirche und Teufel

 

Bamberg, Germany: The Early Modern Witch Burning Stronghold

Throughout the dark ages, Christianity had difficulties setting down roots among the Germanic tribes. Stories are told of saints who came to the German people and destroyed sacred trees and mystical places in order to show the people that their gods had no power. Even after Christianity took hold and the Catholic Church was established in the Germanic territories of the Holy Roman Empire, evidence shows that the Germanic people held onto their beliefs in goddesses, magic, herbal remedies, and pagan practices. Read more here

(This post first appeared at History…the interesting bits! Please check out this wonderful website !)

The Dutch East India Co. #earlymodern

The Dutch East India Company

The Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company, was a trading company founded in 1602. Considered by some to be the first corporation in the world, the VOC was in any case the largest and most impressive trading company in Europe during the Early Modern Period. The Company ruled the trade zone between South Africa and Japan and was granted authority by the Dutch government to build forts, appoint a governing body and to form an army, as well as conducting trade and establishing colonies continue reading…

 
Painting: Willem van de Velde, The Cannon Shot (ca. 1670) Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

 

What am I reading? #mondayblogs

 

Heather Richardson

I’m reading Magdeburg by Heather Richardson:

Link to Magdeburg on amazon.com
 
1631. Germany. As the Thirty Years War rages across central Europe, the Protestant denizens of Magdeburg are holding out against the armies of the Catholic Emperor Ferdinand.
Sweeping in its scope and ambition, Heather Richardson’s debut novel tells the intertwining and conflicting stories of the Henning family, their friends, their associates and their enemies.

 

 

And she’s here today to tell us a little bit about herself:

 
1.) Who are you and what do you do?
Well, for my day job I’m a university lecturer. I teach Creative Writing at the Open University, which is a distance learning university based in the UK.
2.) What project would you like to discuss today? 
My first novel, Magdeburg, which is set in Germany during the Thirty Years War.
3.) What inspired you to take on a project like this?
I first heard about Magdeburg on a BBC radio programme. An historian was talking about its destruction in 1631 – it was pretty much razed to the ground and around 24,000 people killed in one day. The historian explained that this had as powerful an impact on northern Europe as the 9/11 attacks had in our time. I was struck by this, and when I researched the story I found many echoes with Irish history. I’m from a Northern Irish Protestant background, and have long been intrigued by the Protestant mind-set. There were strong parallels between Magdeburg and the Northern Irish city of Derry. In the 17th century both were prosperous, devoutly Protestant, and besieged by the army of a Catholic king. The big difference was that Magdeburg was destroyed, while Derry – which was besieged sixty years later – was saved. The Siege of Derry is a big part of the Northern Irish Protestant identity, so I guess I saw the story of Magdeburg as a way of exploring identity without confronting it head-on.
4.) How do you find the time to write?
Like most writers I’ve had to fit it in around the other demands of life. I’ve adapted my approach over the years, depending on whether my days were occupied with full-time employment, child-rearing, caring for elderly parents etc. If I’m working on a big project like a novel, I do try to write a bit every day – often only 25 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much, but the words gradually mount up. Because I’ve always done it like that, I suspect I wouldn’t be able to sit down and write for days at a time.
5.) What fuels your fascination with Germany? Have you ever been here?
I didn’t have any particular interest in Germany before I started writing the novel, but having read so much about the place I’m a convert! I’ve been lucky enough to go to Germany several times, and stayed in Magdeburg for a few days when I was researching the novel. A couple of years later I made use of a family holiday on the Rhine to take a trip to Mainz. Several of my novel’s characters were printers, so I wanted to see the Gutenburg museum to help me understand the process.
6.) If you could time-travel, what time period would you want to live in?
Probably the future – I wouldn’t want to go back to any time that predates antibiotics, analgesics and anaesthetics! 
7.) Write me a story in three sentences, 100 words or less.
Her mind went blank. ‘I can’t,’ she said. And she didn’t.
8). When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
At the moment I’m on a textile arts and crafts kick – I’ve got a spinning wheel, I crochet, I embroider… It’s for the satisfaction of making a physical artefact that I can touch, wear or wrap myself up in. It’s a way of counterbalancing the ‘in the head’ nature of both my job and my writing. I also run – slowly. I completed my first (and last) marathon a couple of years ago. I was fifth from last, but I finished the damn thing. That’s a pretty good metaphor for writing!
9.) Where can we find out more about you and your books?
I am woefully inactive on social media, so my Amazon author page is probably the best place to go.
10.) What advice would you give to a budding writer?
Read a lot, including 19th century classics. Those guys (and gals) knew how to create a gripping story. Read outside your preferred genre. Don’t worry what your mother will think of your writing. Acknowledge the things that disturb you, and write about them. Write little and often. Finish something.
 
 
 
 

Writing Decisions I Make #mondayblogs

The Decisions I Make While Writing
Or: Why the heck did that character just do what he did?

Everyone knows this moment while watching a B-rated horror flick on TV. The heroine hears spooky sounds coming out of the basement. The music rises and her footsteps slow as she walks towards the basement door. Her hand reaches for the knob and everyone in the room shouts, “Don’t do it!”

We wonder how she could be so foolish. We know evil lurks down there. But somewhere a script writer made a conscious decision to have the scene evolve like this. Now, we as writers are making decisions all the time: about mood, setting and the actions our characters take. Is it raining during the scene? Is it dark or is it morning? Things like this can really affect the mood and setting. And even though I fret over every word, every sentence, paragraph, scene and chapter, I’d like to concentrate today on the decisions I make regarding my characters and their actions, how I back these decisions up and further the story along.

I write historical fiction set in Germany in the 17th Century. I made a decision in the beginning that I wanted a historically correct account about the people and their plights during this period. I also wanted to make the story easier to read so I decided to keep the dialogue ‘lighter’ or non-archaic, using not actually contemporary speech, but somewhere in between the two. And I wanted to somehow create real people with real problems like heartbreak, herbs and horrors. (I wanted to call the book Sex, Drugs and The Thirty Years War, but I decided against that.)

In order to make the characters come alive and show the reader who they are, I need to set up their personality traits along the way, like salting a soup, so that the reader can understand why they act the way they act. For example, a character who was thrown from a horse as a child could understandably have a fear of horses in her adult years. A young man who had a traumatic separation from his mother could have intimacy issues. A woman who was a servant her whole life may not have high self esteem. She most likely will not be the heroine who swings a sword and wards off mercenary soldiers. Her ultimate heroic act may be then that she sacrifices herself in order to save those she loves.

We have all read books where the characters have made choices that we can’t understand. We think that this character would not have done the deed given what we know about him. (Though some writers can use just this tool, an unpredictable trait emerging from a character, quite effectively in order to further the story.) But in my observations, most people are predictable. The signs of personality changes are often there if we dare look. As my characters develop, I set up personality changes so when the character is faced with a conflict, I already know what choice they will make (and the observant reader may see the changes coming too if I do my work right!) For example, a young girl sees a soldier rape her mother. She decides to take a knife and kill him. If I want this scene to be believable, I need to have the girl be athletic from the beginning. I need to train her beforehand so she would even be able to use the knife. And she has to be capable of such an act, so she needs a slight black streak across her personality.

Yes, I do written character analyses. I do their astrological charts. In the beginning, I found actors I would like to play my characters in a film, just to get a feel for their movements and facial expressions, but later they all evolved into their own people. Books about personality disorders have been really helpful and I like to give the characters one or more. (I’m a big fan of flawed heroes.) My historical trilogy, Heaven’s Pond, was written and self-published at first in a first person point of view, from the viewpoints of three of the characters. This was the easiest way to really get into the characters’ heads. The trilogy has now been re-written in the third person point of view. I must say, the first draft written in first person was helpful to find the characters and to really feel them.

So, in my novels nothing happens per chance. The characters may evolve on their own but I’m the puppeteer who’s pulling the strings. The characters may act irrational or self destructive or miss chances that could have saved them. But my conscious decisions plot the whole thing like I am building a ship.

What sort of things do you like to see in characters? What sort of things don’t you like to see?

This post first appeared at Donna Huber’s Girl-Who-Reads blog.