I’m a fourth-generation Californian, and from birth we Californians are wired to play in the sun, to live in the moment. But while exploring the state of Pennsylvania some years back, I made an impromptu stop at the Chadds Ford house where George Washington had plotted his infamous Battle of the Brandywine—a battle the Continental Army lost—and in front of that old house something changed inside me.
Not only did I suddenly and passionately want to knoweverything about something old—what had happened in beautiful Chadds Ford over two hundred years ago—but I had a germ of an idea for a novel about 20th century characters also struggling for autonomy. In fact, I actually knew on that particular day that one of my characters would be a woman looking back on her life, and that her journey to freedom (in her case, freedom from a dysfunctional family) would be interwoven with another character’s similar journey, and analogously with Washington’s fight for freedom at Chadds Ford (keeping in mind that even though that battle was lost, the war was still won, and spectacularly—terrible cliché, but it works).
Doesn’t sound that hard, does it, buckling down to research and aregular writing schedule? Well, I wish I could tell you I slipped smoothly into historical research, but I’d be a big, fat liar saying I slipped smoothly into anything. I struggled to find my way, to find a balance somewhere in-between research, writing, a fulltime job, house, husband, dog, friends, extended family, my workout schedule—and sleep! It wasn’t always pretty. And without sleep I wasn’t much to look at, either.
And then there were those days when I was sure I was a total idiot, even thinking I could pull together a historical suspense story told by different narrators in divergent times— that is, until my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness—which is where that word analogy comes back into play.
My husband (called DDF) always believed in me. If I said I was going to do something, I don’t think he ever, ever doubted me (if he did, he never let on). He wanted The AngryWoman Suite as much as I did—and so it was DDF who inspired my final push. I was determined to get a completed bound book into his hands before he died.
And it happened just that way. The Angry Woman Suite, a story about losing before winning, and a Discovery Award winner, was in DDF’s hands in March of 2012. He wasn’t able to read by that point, but he turned that book over and over in his hands, and he smiled BIG.
DDF died a month and a half later. The Angry WomanSuite is, of course, dedicated to him.
10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before
by Benjamin Wallace
I’ve just recently shed the day job and the “writer-by-night” title and become a full-time stay-at-home author and there are a few things I wish I’d known before hand.
1. Kids have a lot of laundry – Even accounting for school clothes, after school clothes, he got spit on this shirts clothes and pajamas, there is no way my three kids can wear and dirty this many clothes each. They have to have help. I’m thinking some kind of fashion goblin that sneaks in at night, drops a few skid marks and leaves unnoticed.
2. There is no normal – A sick kid, an errand to run, haircut day—there is no normal day. You do your best to set a schedule and stick to it but things are going to happen. You have to learn to write on the fly.
3. Dogs sleep a lot – I always assumed, based on how much they sleep in the evening, that they spent every other moment wagging their tails fast enough to open portal in time. Not the case. They sleep just as much during the day as they do at night. The only difference is now my feet are there to be under.
4. There’s a train that runs by my house – I knew the tracks were there because they’re bumpy. But, I’d never seen a train on the weekend or at night. Or if I happened to be home with the kids … oh, I get it. They’re louder than a train.
5. I forget to feed myself – I’ve heard this described as a special kind of stupid. So be it. I’ll get to writing and go right through breakfast and lunch. However, I never forget the coffee.
6. Kids’ homework is hard – Okay the actual homework isn’t hard. Resisting the urge to say, “Yeah, you’re never going to need to know that” is near impossible.
7. I miss meetings – But I can take naps now. So it’s kind of the same thing.
8. The potlucks suck – When you’re an author you’re working for yourself. So when you have a potluck supper, you’re the only person bringing anything. And since I was the guy that never brought anything, it’s a really sad spread.
9. You have to do the dishes every day – or they will really pile up and possibly hurt someone.
10. It’s as awesome as it sounds – Although being an author, for me, ended up including being a stay at home dad, I’m enjoying every minute of it. Except the dishes. And the laundry. And the homework.
Today, I have the incredible honor of interviewing perhaps the most famous couple the world has ever known. They are a couple made famous in numerous books, religious tomes and testaments, including the Bible, and their legacy easily spans the centuries touching each and every one of us in ways we can only begin to imagine. The input of their genetics alone changed the entire direction of our species’ development. But beyond that, they changed our development both culturally and spiritually, and the effect of their presence is felt even today. The ironic part is, most of us know very little about the couple I’m going to introduce you to, our guests today, Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Internet News: Wow. It is such a pleasure to have you here today; I hardly know where to begin. I just finished reading your biography and I must admit I had no idea the difficulty regarding what the two of you went through in coming to our planet. The early literature doesn’t begin to cover what happened 40,000 years ago. Why is that?
Adam: You have to remember that when we arrived on Earth, or Terran as we called it, there was no written language at the time. Your ancestors had no need for writing. They were doing something far more important, they were surviving. It was only with the advent of our children that writing became established on Earth, and it took thousands of years before it caught on. In that regards, it’s not hard to understand how the stories about us became exaggerated and embellished. Back then, the only way to pass on one’s history was by word-of-mouth, and most of this was accomplished through poems and songs that the tribes used to explain the world around them. It actually took a good 5000 years before writing took hold and that was due mainly to our children’s efforts. They were the ones who really established the written word on Earth.
Internet news: Yes, your children. That was a bit of a sticky mess in the beginning wasn’t it?
Eve: Yes, that was not one of our fonder moments. Still, things did work out, though it could’ve been so much better.
Internet news: Well, let’s get down to it then. You come to Terran or Earth. You’re given complete command of the planet. And the goal is to populate Earth with your species until you’ve reached a substantial number, at which point your species and our ancestors, the Neanderthals, are to be intermixed, thereby creating a new superhuman race.
Adam: Well, superhuman is a bit of an overstatement, but yes, that was the general idea, though the original plan was far more in depth. Aside from the physical changes we were to bring, our primary goal was to raise the human race to a new standard of understanding. We were sent to cultivate and enlighten you, and raise you from the quagmire of primitive survival to a level of civilization that you would never have achieved without such an infusion.
Internet News: So that’s why Jhira decided that a new evolutionary cycle for the human race was necessary?
Adam: Yes, you see your ancestors; the Neanderthals had reached the end of their evolutionary ladder. They had survived for over 200,000 years on Earth, and had done so exceedingly well, but they lacked the ability to communicate amongst other things. And in order to progress fully as a species you need the ability to communicate readily. Therefore, it was decided that a boost was needed—something that would catapult your species to a new level.
Internet news: So what happened?
Eve: It’s a very long story, but essentially we fell short. We got caught up in our own pomposity, and became entangled in a web of lies and deceit. Though I would like to blame Mikatta or the devil as you call him, for our misgivings or shortcomings, it was our own naivety and foolishness that really led us down the path of failure. We violated the plan that had been laid out for us and consequently lost everything we were trying to build. Since then, we’ve had a lot of time to reflect and we fully accept the blame for what happened.
Internet news: I’d like you to hold that thought for just a minute. And before we continue any further I’d like to give our readers a little more background information on the two of you so they can fully appreciate what happened 40,000 years ago. Can you tell us a little about your home planet, Mirra?
Adam: Surely. It’s a large planet, slightly larger in circumference than Earth, though the gravity is about the same. It’s far older and much more settled climate wise.
Eve: And we don’t have a moon like your planet, but we’re surrounded by far more stars.
Internet News: But your planet’s technologically, it’s quite superior to that of Earth’s.
Adam: Yes, far more so—though you have been making substantial strides in the last hundred years.
Internet News: Do you think that the technological difference between our two planets contributed to your situation here on Earth? Perhaps even your failure?
Eve: Undoubtedly. I don’t think either Adam or I fully realized how much we missed Mirra or our previous lives there until we were alone together on Earth. Even we were fooled. I don’t think it was the distance between our worlds necessarily, but the isolation that was the worst thing. We never had a chance to make contact with anyone from our previous lives. At times it was like everyone we knew had died and we were the only ones left. And even though we made many new friends on Terran and there were many rewards, it always felt like we were missing something.
Adam: I would have to agree. Perhaps if we had not been so educated, or used to things that many of you take for granted it would’ve been different. I understand, of course, why things had to be the way they were. The Terran project was an experiment that called for the strictest standards and that meant we had to be alone on your planet. It was the only way.
Internet News: Aside from the default, what was your biggest mistake on Terran?
Adam: Wow, there were quite a few. Underestimating Mikatta, that was a big one for me. I knew at the time that we had to be wary of him, but I unprepared for the level of viciousness he cast upon us and his deceit was immeasurable. I think he had a better grasp of the time it would take to put his plans into motion. Both Eve and I were caught up in the daily lives of everyone in Eden. Our days and nights were kept busy supervising the tribes and formulating our plans to make Earth a better place. Mikatta on the other hand, had only one plan in mind and that was to bring us down.
Internet news: Eve?
Eve: For me it was the loss of Kane and Able. As parents, it’s hard to reconcile yourself with the loss of your children. Again, there are no excuses. We could’ve done better job.
Internet News: If you could change anything what would it be?
Adam: Pretty much everything. I mean, let’s face it. The world, as you know it, is in the mess it’s in because of us. Had we not defaulted your evolutionary level would be far superior today than what it is.
Eve: I think Adam is being far too hard on himself. I think he still feels that because of his betrayal to the covenant of Jhira that the blame for our default rests squarely on his shoulders. I keep telling him, that’s not the case. We’re human and we made mistakes, and though we’d like to change things, it’s never going to happen. We all have to live with the decisions we make.
Internet News: What would you consider to be your biggest success with the Terran project?
Eve: You! I mean you as a people. You’re here, you’re growing and you’re surviving. That in itself speaks volumes.
Adam: Yes, I would have to agree with Eve. As a species you are struggling, but you’ve made it 40,000 years. I suppose we are most pleased by that.
Internet News: In that respect how do you see our planet today? What are your concerns? What gives you hope?
Adam: I’m most concerned with your lack of compassion for one another. The most disconcerting signs is the violence I see. I keep hoping that the light will go on, and that one day you’ll realize the only way for your species to really succeed is by banding together. The Neanderthals understood that and that’s why they survived for 200,000 years. But somehow you, the Cro-Magnon people, have pushed that characteristic aside. Perhaps it’s because so little of our genetics was infused into you—it’s hard to say.
You know, there are billions of life forms out there in space, and that’s just in your corner of the universe. If you would just accept that it’s the differences in each and every one of you that makes you unique. You could be so much further down the road.
Eve: I’m most saddened by the treatment of woman on Earth. I mean, how can you think that you’re going to survive and grow when you suppress and subjugate half your population. It’s foolish. It’s like building a house with no roof and wondering why you get wet when it rains.
Internet News: Tell us about the Garden.
Eve: It was a magnificent place. I don’t think I can begin to describe just what a gorgeous place it was. The weather was temperate, the waters surrounding the Peninsula a deep blue, and oh, so clear. There was no pollution, and the seas were filled with fish. In fact, there was life everywhere surrounding the Peninsula. Of all the places that I wish I could re-create it would be the Garden Peninsula of Eden.
Adam: Yes, Eve is correct about that. If there was anything right about our arrival on Earth, it was the Garden of Eden. Of all places I wish to revisit, it would be there.
Internet News: Can you give us a glimpse of our future? Can we look forward to a new stage anytime soon in our physical evolution?
Adam: No. Any glimpse into your future would be unearned knowledge. And as far as any changes in your evolution, and I assume you mean from an outside source, I am not privy to that. However, the Neanderthal race had to wait 200,000 years before any infusion was conducted and you are nowhere close to that time frame. Also, you must realize that you are still evolving even as we speak. Let’s see what happens over the next 100,000 years before bringing in outside help. You might be surprised by what occurs naturally.
Internet News: What can you tell us about Jhira?
Eve: Jhira is the source of this universe. Of course, that is the name we have given him. Your planet and the different cultures and religions that reside here have different names for Jhira. Still, he is the designer of all.
Internet News: And he’s been here. I mean on Earth.
Adam: Oh yes. It was part of his final bestowal. He came and walked among you. It was a remarkable event.
Internet News: And what about Mikatta? Where is he now?
Adam: I have no idea. I do know that when Jhira left your planet he took Mikatta with him. Jhira decided that the people on Earth needed a clean slate upon which to build.
Internet News: I bet he was unhappy about that.
Adam: So, I’ve heard.
Internet News: And you—what are you doing now?
Eve: Adam and I have been consigned to the Nebelon Corp. We are in charge of overseeing the implantation of new Planetary Progressers for evolving worlds in the Kolan quadrant.
Internet News: So in a way you’ve been given another chance.
Eve: Yes, we have. It seems our experience and our knowledge is being put to good use. I mean after all, we actually lived the experience and that is a gift we can impart to the couples being selected for future infusions.
Internet news: And your children, how do they feel about all of this?
Adam: Over the course of the last 40,000 years we’ve had a chance to reestablish our bond with all our children. All of them have moved on and taken responsibility for their own lives. That’s what’s so great about the universe. It’s expanding continuously and there’s something for everyone.
Internet News: Lastly, how do you feel about your portrayal in human history?
Eve: Well, we hope this new biography will clear up a few things. I mean the whole story about me being formed from Adam’s rib, running around naked in the garden and frolicking with the animals—it’s a little silly. I do understand how it all came about, but really, it’s time to rethink the story.
Adam: Yes, I would have to agree with Eve. One of the major reasons our race was selected to be joined with yours was for the gift of intellectual prowess. Our purpose was to give you, as a people, the ability to think for yourselves, to make up your own mind, and to think outside the box as you call it. So please, take some time and read our biography and see for yourself if it doesn’t make more sense.
Internet News: Adam, Eve, I would like to thank you for a wonderful interview. Meeting you has been a delight and far more than I could’ve ever have imagined, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And for our readers, I do hope you will take the time to pick up a copy of THE GARDEN, The Unauthorized Biography of Adam and Eve, available now at Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AR3AHK8 You won’t be disappointed.
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Many people have a romantic idea about writing–and some writers perpetuate the notion–that writers sit around waiting for the inspiration of a Muse. The process seems rather mystical, and no one can quite be prepared for when the Muse will strike. If she doesn’t feel like visiting, the writer is stuck in that ugly place called Writer’s Block.
While I won’t deny flashes of inspiration or moments when writing seems easier than others, I feel duty-bound to smash the myth of the Muse. Or at least to declare that writing–good writing–can happen with or without her beneficence.
I began sketching out plot and researching After the Snow Fallsabout a year after my second child was born. I wrote during my “writing mornings,” while my husband took care of our two toddlers so I could have uninterrupted time to focus on my passion.
I wrote the last word on July 4th, 2011. All told, the process took seven years. Seven years.
Granted, during that time, we had another baby and moved to China where we encountered some significant challenges, financially and personally. We moved back to Canada for what we believed would be a six-month visit that stretched into almost two years. There, I experienced one miscarriage, and then another and another. It wasn’t an easy time.
There were times while writing After the Snow Falls that I forgot more about my own plot than I remembered. When I did take the time to sit down and write, I had to re-read large portions of what I’d written–sometimes years before–just to get back into the flow and sequence of the story. On more than one occasion, I threatened to give up altogether.
But the story kept pulling me back. And I knew I just couldn’t give up on it. I’m so glad I didn’t.
However, when approaching another novel, I knew I had to find a better way. If every novel I wrote took that long, I wasn’t going to have much of a career. And I never wanted to face that kind of discouragement about my writing again.
Last November, on a whim, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I’d always wanted to, but the rules state you have to be working on a new project–not something you’d been hammering away at for seven years–and I didn’t have the heart to pick up something new with After the Snow Falls languishing in a drawer somewhere.
Writing full-out like that taught me some valuable lessons about writing well with or without the benefit of one’s Muse:
Writing doesn’t have to happen at special times or in a special place. It helps, to be sure. But if you don’t have that luxury,write anyway.
Keep track of word counts. It is tremendously motivating to see those words accumulating, and it helps you to be accountable when there’s no one else to tell you to sit your butt down in a chair and write.
Write every day. With NaNoWriMo, daily word counts run around 1600 words, so getting behind by a day has a huge impact on your overall success. When you start to see how easy it is to lose ground, you begin to understand the value of writing–even a little–every day.
Don’t let yourself get stuck. Can’t face that blank page? Open up a new document and give yourself permission to write anything. Brainstorm on paper. Come up with a crazy new plot twist. Write, write, write. Take a few minutes before writing each new scene to sketch it out in plain prose so you know where you’re headed, then go back to your work in progress and write what you’ve envisioned. If you’re blocked, there’s a reason. Ask yourself why. If you’re not enjoying the scene, you’re not listening to your writer’s intuition that something isn’t right about it. And if you don’t enjoy writing it, how can you expect that anyone will enjoy reading it?
When you sit down to write, resist the urge to rewrite or edit everything you wrote the day before. Give yourself a few minutes to spruce things up if you like, then move on. Write more. Build up that word count. Make it happen.
Out of the frenzy of NaNoWriMo, I’m learning to follow these tips in my everyday writing. I’m currently revising a middle-grade novel and in the research stage, just about ready to launch into writing another contemporary novel for an adult audience.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? I enjoy several genres which keeps the writing fun. My recent work on MG/YA fantasy has been a lot of fun.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? Keeping a reader hooked into the story once they start reading has always been a strength.
Why did you choose to write this particular book? My 11 year old son turned out to be a reluctant reader and I wrote Jack Templar in an attempt to get him excited about books. It worked and he’s now an avid reader.
What was the hardest part about writing this book? Keeping the tone appropriate for the target market. My tastes are pretty dark so I have to dial it back sometimes.
How do you promote this book? Blog tours, tweet Q&As, Goodreads and visiting local school and bookshops have all been a lot of fun as I’ve met cool people along the way.
Will you write others in this same genre? Yes, The Templar Chronicles is imagined as a 7-part series.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Each book has it’s own “message”. Book 1 deals with our responsibility to stand up to evil even at great risk to ourselves.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?I just read The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, a steampunk fantasy which is mind-blowing. Check it out.
Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why? Patrick Rothfuss who wrote The Name Of The Wind is amazing.
Do you have any advice for writers? Write every day. Even if it’s 15 mins. 7 days a week without vacations. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Hang with my wife, five kids, two dogs, one cat and one very feisty horse. We’re outdoorsy, so kayaking, fishing, hiking, biking, etc.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? My kids don’t think I’m completely uncool. That’s worth the price of admission right there.