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Posts Tagged ‘history’

Elaine Isaac Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak). E. C. Ambrose wrote adventure-based historical fantasy series The Dark Apostle, about medieval surgery, from DAW Books, which began with Elisha Barber, and concluded with volume 5, Elisha Daemon in 2018. Her most recent release was international thriller novel, Bone Guard One: The Mongol’s Coffin. As Elaine Isaak, she also wrote The Singer’s Crown Series. In the process of researching her books, Elaine learned how to hunt with a falcon, clear a building of possible assailants, and pull traction on a broken limb. The author is a graduate of and an instructor for the Odyssey Writing Workshop. In addition to writing, Elaine works as a guide, teaching rock climbing and leading outdoor adventure camps.

E. C. Ambrose’s latest book, Elisha Daemon is a novel history and dark fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—1348: Europe has become a bottomless well of terror and death, from which the necromancers drink deep as the citizens sink into despair. If there is to be any chance of survival, Elisha must root out the truth of the pestilence at its unexpected source: the great medical school at Salerno.

But as he does, his former mentor, the beautiful witch Brigit, lays her own plans. For there may be one thing upon the face of the planet more deadly than the plague: the unfiltered power of Death within Elisha himself. Europe’s darkest hour awaits Elisha Daemon!

A starred review in Library Journal described the first book in the series, Elisha Barber (now available in paperback) as “Painfully elegant, beautifully told,” while D. B. Jackson, author of The Thieftaker Series, said, “Elisha Barber is at once dark, powerful, redemptive, and ultimately deeply satisfying. Highly recommended!”

Elisha Daemon front cover_elaine i Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Elisha Daemon?

This is the final volume in The Dark Apostle Series, about medieval surgery. I got inspired to write the books while I was researching the history of medicine for another novel. I dove deep into the rabbit hole for that one—and when I emerged again, I had the concept for the books: a barber-surgeon discovers he has an unnatural affinity with Death.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Elisha, the protagonist, is the only narrator for the series. He begins as arrogant about his skill, only to find that the world is much larger and more dangerous than even he knew. Compassion is his tragic flaw—he just can’t stop himself from investing in others, even when it hurts.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

The series is from DAW (an affiliate of Penguin Random House), so traditional. I loved working with the team at DAW, from the editor who helped me make the books so much better, to the artist who created the fantastic covers, to the publicists who helped me arrange bookstore visits and other promotional opportunities. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to wear all of those hats! The main disadvantage is that everything happens on their schedule: waiting for edits, then having to hurry to make changes, books being delayed even though I turned them in. That part is frustrating, but sharing the responsibilities of the process with experts made the trade-off worth it for me.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

These books transformed me from a gardener to an architect—does that make me a landscape designer? The editors loved the concept, but thought my original series arc was too small. I developed many of my current techniques for brainstorming and outlining while expanding the concept into the series I eventually wrote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber. This wonderful fairytale works within the tropes of fantasy to express some rich and beautiful things. As the Golux (the only Golux in the world, and not a Mere Device) says in the book, “I can feel a thing I cannot touch, and touch a thing I cannot feel. The first is sad and sorry, and the second is, your heart.” And that, after all, is what a writer longs for: to touch the hearts of others.

What writing project are you currently working on?

At any given time, I have several projects cooking. I am currently revising a young adult science fiction novel, A Wreck of Dragons, about teens partnered with giant robots to find a new home for mankind among the stars. I’ve begun drafting the sequel to an international thriller novel, book two in The Bone Guard Series, and I have the ghost of a mythic fantasy novel haunting the back of my mind…

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

“Don’t hide your light under a bushel,” Mrs. Tribe, seventh grade English teacher. If you have something to say, something wonderful and amazing you want to share, put it out there. Be fearless in expressing your heart.

Want to learn more about E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) and Elisha Daemon? Check out her: Facebook pageTwitterE.C. Ambrose Amazon Authors PageElaine Isaak Amazon Authors Page – and for sample chapters, historical research, and some nifty extras, visit her website.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Elisha Daemon.

Thanks to author E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Denise Timpko on February 26, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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As a girl, I loved Little House on the Prairie, and other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And I still enjoy them today. The television series featuring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, and others didn’t follow the books’ story lines all the time, but nevertheless remained faithful to the themes and spirit of Laura’s books (and life experiences).

Writer-reader geek that I am, I visited the Ingalls farm, school house, and the house that Pa built in De Smet, South Dakota. The area is still beautiful and wind-blown. It wasn’t difficult to image the Ingalls family riding in a buggy to town or to the store where Harriet and Nellie Oleson spent their lives annoying others (including Willie and long-suffering Nels). A bit “off the beaten path,” I’m glad we took the time to visit De Smet.

These memoirs, for that is what Little House in the Big Woods, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and On the Banks of Plum Creek seemed to be to me, breathe life into American history. And I think my enjoyment of history was helped along by Laura’s books (as well as family stories and my father’s fascination with history – especially American history).

Currently, I’m working on several historical projects. They will never obtain the readership or popularity of Laura’s books, but I hope to breathe life into the men and women dwelling in their pages – for history matters!

And these words from a tiny (4′ 11″) pioneer woman still ring true: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder.

For those who’d like to view some historical photos of Laura, and learn a little bit about Laura and her family, husband, and life – here’s a link to a wonderful article: The Amazing Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder Part I: Old Photo Archive. Enjoy!

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I’m a fan of history, especially American history. But I must admit never having heard of Sybil Ludington, who in April 1777 rode her horse across the countryside alerting the militia men that the British were coming. At age 16, she rode further than Paul Revere, and George Washington visited her to thank her for her efforts.

Here’s the link to a history minute with more information on Sybil Ludington.

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David Healey Thanks to historical book author, David Healey, for stopping by and answering a few questions.

VWC: When did you decide you wanted to be an author? What are some of the things you did to reach that goal?

DH: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That was it. I suppose I’ve been lucky that way. As a kid I was always writing stories and reading, reading, reading. There’s really no better way to become a writer than to be a voracious reader.

VWC: How has your background as a newspaperman helped you with your career as an author?

DH: Working at a newspaper you learn how to write very quickly and can’t afford the luxury of writer’s block. You also learn how to take some criticism and to work in a noisy environment. For a long time, it was a great job and it seemed important.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for your first book?

Sea Lord Chronicles DH: First I found a wonderful agent named Esther Perkins who taught me a lot about the difference between simply writing fiction and writing fiction that might be published. Unfortunately we never landed a book deal together. When Esther retired I found another agent who gave me a whole new crash course in writing fiction. The agents are the ones who find a publisher.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for a book now?

DH:Publishing has changed so much in the last twenty years. You still need an agent to get a book deal with one of the big publishers. You needed a press to print a newspaper. Technology has changed all that.

VWC: Have you ever self-published a book? If yes, what are the greatest challenges for a self-published author?

DH: Self publishing is a great option. Dickens was a self publisher, after all, cranking out serialized stories for magazines that he owned—but he was also a great storyteller. I have self published a book with some success but with a lot of help from paid designers, copy editors and marketers. I would highly recommend hiring a pro to help you publish the best book possible.

VWC: You’ve written thrillers, historical novels, non-fiction, mysteries, and the Sea Lord Chronicles for younger readers (MG or YA?), do you have a favorite genre?

Ghost-Sniper DH: I read all sorts of things, and as a result I’ve written a lot of different kinds of books.

VWC: What book that you’ve written is your favorite and why?

DH: The best book I’ve written is the one I just finished. Somebody else actually said that, not me! My favorites are Sharpshooter, because that was my first novel; and I really take pride in Rebel Train, and not just because it was a Jeopardy! question. I wrote that novel in longhand over several months between the hours of midnight and two a.m. I would come home from the night shift at the newspaper and write, and then, be up first thing in the morning with our daughter so my wife could go to work. That’s how badly I wanted to write.

VWC: In addition to your historical nonfiction books, many of your novels are based in history. Do you enjoy research? Do you visit the places mentioned in your books?

DH: History really comes alive for me when I try to imagine the people who lived through historical events. I love the research and try to visit all the historical locations I can because it helps to get the atmosphere right.

VWC: How have you managed to write and publish 8 books in the last 2 years?

Rebel Train DH: Is it that many? I figure I’m good for about 30 books. That’s my ultimate goal. We’ll see.

VWC: Do you work on more than one book at a time?

DH: Yes, I usually have one almost finished and then one in the outlining stage.

VWC: Do you have any time-management secrets for writers?

DH: An outline is very important. It took me a long time to learn that, so save yourself a lot of grief and spend the weeks you need to write an outline. My outlines are very rough and incorporate character back story and plot points, but by the time I sit down to write most of the story is “there” just waiting to be written. The other factor is time. It does help to have some sort of schedule. I have the luxury now of writing in the morning or right after lunch. For many years I wrote late at night and on weekends to get things done.

VWC: What projects are you working on now?

DH: I’m working on a sequel to my World War II story, Ghost Sniper.

VWC: What advice do you have for writers trying to get a book published?

DH: Read all you can and write all you can. Writing is definitely a craft that you have to work on over time, so it helps to read craft books, attend conferences, or just sit there and ask the age old question, “Is this showing not telling?”

VWC: Who was your favorite author as a child?

DH: The wonderful frontier adventure writer William O. Steele.

Sharp Shooter VWC: Who is your favorite author now?

DH: I would say that I never miss a John Sandford thriller.

VWC: What was the most valuable piece of writing advice given to you?

DH: The game changer for me was going to school at Washington College in Chestertown and discovering this whole community of writers there. Through that I learned that you know what, it’s okay to be a writer.

VWC: And now, the final and most important question: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

DH: Pepperidge Farm Chesapeakes with a much of tea.

For more information about David Healey and his books, visit his website and blog. And you can find his books on Amazon.

Thanks, David, for stopping by. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Writing Tips, Recipes, and lots of other interesting posts. Have a historical Monday! – Vonnie

PS. If you want to show some love, visit my Amazon page and buy one of my books. 😉

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I find curious facts most inspiring when it comes to writing. Plus, all the seemingly useless information I read makes me wonderful at trivia games (if the game asks for the “right” useless info).

A dark, puny, irreverent site I stumbled upon which contains odd historical trivia is http://horrible-histories.co.uk/calendar If you like trivia, I think you’ll agree it’s a strange and fascinating resource.

Happy horrible history reading!

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 Hooray! The 2011 issue of The Gunpowder Review arrived in 2 large boxes on my doorstep today. I opened the first box, heart thumping, and examined the newest edition of the women’s literary magazine that I’ve edited for the last 3 years.

I think the front and back covers look stunning. Front butterfly photo is from Katie Hartlove. Back cover photos are from Jean Voxakis, Danuta Kosk-Kosicka, Patti Kinlock, Kristin Stephens Crist, and Robin Bayne. And the poems, prose, photography, and artwork on the inside of the magazine are just as wonderful. I feel priviledged to publish the work of so many creative women, and look forward to hosting a publication reading on November 13th at 1 PM at the Bel Air, Maryland, Barnes & Noble. The public is not only invited, but encouraged to attend – so if you’re in the area, why not stop by?

 And the weather was so balmy today, that husband, Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur, and I took a hike on the North Central Railroad Trail. We walked beneath deciduous trees that had few leaves remaining on their branches, over bridges spanning a creek that had enough momentum to turn many a mill wheel in the olden days, and beside farmland, woodland, and flood plain. Though there were exposed roots aplenty, fern gullies, and mossy rocks – I didn’t spy any Fairyfolk. Still, I believe that they were there peering at us from rabbit holes and birds’ nests.

There was a feeling of timelessness in the names of the tiny roads we crossed. I must research the history of the NCR Trail and the little towns we walked through. History holds so many secrets and endless inspiration for writers. I’ve used a bit of personal history to YA Urban Fantasy already, and I’ll surely use more.

So hurrah for hikes on sunny days, history, creative women, and the arrival of The Gunpowder Review 2011. Now, back to typing…

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I find myself in a daydreamy mood today, which is not at all useful in completing next month’s “Harford’s Heart” Writer’s Block column. www.harfordsheart.com  

The column I’m working on features 2 local writers, Jack L. Shagena, Jr. and Henry C. Peden, Jr., who are meticulously researching and writing the history of Harford County. Their books are each subject specific: Mills, Blacksmithing, Churches, Tinsmithing, Barns, Bridges, etc. Fascinating stuff for those of us interested in history or for writers interested in bringing authenticity to their fiction. (And luckily, all but 1 of their books are available at the Harford Historical Society).

 But today, I’ve been daydreaming about a darker world where I’ve set one fantasy story and I’d like to set another. Maybe it’s the warm wind rustling the daffodils every time I go outside with the dog. Maybe it’s the new leaves on the trees that seem so brightly yellow-green against the sky. Maybe it’s the woodpecker persistently searching for insects in the dead maple in the woods. I’m not sure. But whatever the reason, I’m finding it difficult to focus on the here and now.

So what do I do?

Write! I’ll allow myself 2 hours to slip into that dark fantastic world that is demanding to be written about. And then, reluctantly, I’ll pull out my notes again and write my column. No matter how distracting, I feel blessed to be able to daydream so easily. For no less a writer than Edgar Allan Poe wrote: “They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

So to you writers & artists out there (and everyone else who’s enjoying this gorgeous spring day): Happy Daydreaming!

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