Getting from beginning writer to published author can be a long, slow journey. This has become obvious to me in many ways the last few weeks.
One indicator was the date on an old story I am revising now. It is hard to believe I wrote this story back in 2006. Looking at the story now, I can see how much my writing has progressed since then. I would like to think I no longer write stories with characters who are not fully developed. The poor heroine in this story has been waiting a long time for me to show her full potential. Also, the exclamation points! I know I do not use them nearly as often – if ever – in my stories now. I am still not sure what prompted me to go back to this story now, but I am glad I did. Not just because it deserves to be fixed, but also because it is encouraging to see how far I have come since I first wrote it.
Though, apparently, I have not come far enough yet. I received another “good” rejection recently. While I am happy it was by and large very positive, I am waiting for the day I advance from a good rejection to an actual offer. All of my recent rejections said essentially the same thing. My writing is strong, but not quite strong enough to break into what is currently a very competitive historical romance market. This is a good mile marker, but not the end destination. So now I must figure out what lessons I need to learn to get me to the next level with my writing. I guess I still have some miles to travel on my journey to being published. But I know I am getting closer.
Some other romance writing friends and I were discussing this topic last night. We all want to be published, and are willing to put in the work to get there. But no one can tell us exactly what it is we need to do. In fact, sometimes we get conflicting messages from experts in the industry. We had a good laugh about it last night. It’s too bad there isn’t a crystal ball for writers in our situation. But since there isn’t, we will all keep moving forward, perhaps taking a detour or two, until we finally end up at our destination.
It may take some time, but I have no doubt we will all get there. I am convinced we all have the necessary skill and determination. It’s just a matter of perseverance now.
I may not end this journey as quickly or in the story vehicle with which I started the trip, but someday I will reach “The End” on my journey to published author.
I am glad you are along for the ride with me. If you want to see some of my previous stops on the journey, you can find them in earlier blogs on my website: http://www.karenmarcam.com/
Fair warning, I am shamelessly promoting a friend in this blog. Since I wanted to focus on crafts and hobbies this week, I decided to share a resource some of you might find helpful.
Like me, Debbie Warner has worked in IT for years. During the day, she is a dedicated and experienced project manager. However, she is also one of the most creative and talented people I know. (There seems to be something about working in a very technical field like IT which makes people go in the opposite direction with their free time.)
I have witnessed (and benefited from) Debbie’s skills with candle-making and jewelry-making in the past. More recently, she has been focusing on paper crafting. She is so enthused about it, she works some evenings and weekends at a brick-and-mortar craft store where she teaches classes. (Having co-trained with Debbie in the past, I am sure she is awesome!) She also has an online blog (http://debrahwarner.com/) in which she shares beautiful photos of cards she has made, and provides the directions to make them.
So rather than me blathering on longer, telling stories about Debbie, I will let her work tell the tale. Below are some photos of cards she has designed. You can find the material list and directions for each of these on her blog. Even if you don't create cards, you might – like me – find yourself simply appreciating their beauty and the underlying craft. Enjoy!
This morning, I went down a research rabbit hole. I intended to answer a quick question on medieval widows. Instead, I ended up looking at all sorts of interesting medieval history. One of the most intriguing tangents I took was about food.
Even back then, most people had three meals a day, though the timing and content shifted a bit from what we are used to now. Breakfast was a simple meal, usually bread and cheese, and was generally eaten around sunrise. Dinner, served between 10:00 AM and noon, was the biggest meal of the day. While still a relatively simple meal for the lower classes, a lord might expect to see more meat, fruit, etc. at his dinner. A lighter supper was served close to sunset. This included more of the bread and cheese, and perhaps a simple stew for most people.
People had fruits and vegetables available, especially during the summer months. They also consumed a large amount of fish. Since every location in England was less than 100 miles from the shore, fish was generally inexpensive and easy to obtain.
When a lord had a reason to celebrate, simple meals went out the window. I stumbled across a few records of what was consumed at specific banquets, and it was eye-opening. Lords used banquets as an opportunity to demonstrate their wealth, with both the quantity of food provided and the variety of expensive spices used.
Here is a listing of foods consumed by the 6,000 guests at a feast after the installation of the Archbishop of York in 1467. (I must digress for a moment here. How does one serve 6,000 people at a meal? The mind boggles.) Anyway, here a partial list:
A discussion of medieval eating and drinking would be incomplete without some mention of ale. This was the second most popular way of consuming grain, after bread. However, ale in those times was very different from what we think of today. It had less alcohol, and was actually relatively nutritious. Many people either brewed their own, or acquired it from a local brewer. Interestingly, brewing ale was such a common occupation for women, the surname “Brewster” today is derived from the label for those female brewers.
I am. It’s a good thing I ate lunch. One of the biggest lessons I learned while down this food rabbit hole was that, contrary to myth, people in Medieval England actually ate about as well as we do now. Granted, they didn’t have ice cream or chocolate yet, but they did have access to a wide variety of foods.
Since collecting recipes is a mild obsession of mine, I am tempted now to start collecting medieval recipes. If anyone knows of some sources, I would love to hear your suggestions. In the meantime, I guess it’s back to writing my actual story for me.
Over the Labor Day weekend, we celebrated my granddaughter’s first birthday. Since my son and his wife live in another state, we also used the occasion as a means for them to see as many relatives and friends as possible when they returned to our house for the long weekend.
As a result, we had a house (more correctly, a yard) full of people that day. I didn’t do a final headcount, but I believe it was in the neighborhood of 35 people. Luckily, Mother Nature smiled on us and gave us perfect weather for an outdoor gathering. Better yet, the young children could stay occupied playing games on the lawn.
I was too busy as hostess to sit and visit much, but from what I could tell, everyone seemed to have a good time. My sister-in-law helped me set out the food for lunch and to put it all away afterward, which saved me a few steps. Nevertheless, my feet were plenty tired by the time the last guest left later in the afternoon!
And since it was a birthday party, we also had a theme and decorations. My daughter-in-law organized all of this, and did a great job. She used the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle as the theme for the birthday. This must be a very popular theme for children’s parties, because I was amazed at the number of caterpillar-related party items she was able to get.
She also used a clever caterpillar idea for the cake. Rather than one large birthday cake, she made batches of cupcakes and arranged them as the body of a caterpillar, with a small round cake for the head. (This didn’t include the separate “smash cake” which my granddaughter destroyed for photo posterity – I guess I’ve been away from children’s parties for too long, because I didn’t know this is a thing.)
All-in-all, it was a great day. But I’ll admit, as soon as my son and his family packed up and left to return home the next morning, I crashed. I’m not used to having a small child and a large dog in the house anymore!
This was the first of many birthdays we will be able to celebrate with our granddaughter, and I am sure each one will be special. What special children’s birthday memories do you have?
I write historical romances, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.