After returning from Nigeria in April, we've had something of a furlough this summer to help my mom sort through things after her husband died. Now we're headed back overseas, and it looks as though we'll be staying in the same place for *gasp* 3 years! We're joining the faculty of our university in Europe and will reside in a small Swiss village between Geneva and Lausanne.
My oldest daughter will begin kindergarten (in French!) in about three weeks, so this is really a different stage for us. All our globe trotting will be confined to school holidays and summer. I'm excited, and really, really busy getting all our things ready to move. This site may be a little quiet this month!
My novel involves quite a bit of travel. It begins in Armenia, moves to Asia Minor, then Rome, Moesia, Ephesus, Capadoccia, Persia, Edessa, Armenia again. Part of my job with researching this book was figuing out how my characters would get from place to place, the routes they would take, and how long they would travel for. Unfortunately for me, most of that "figuring out" involved hours of researching the speed of wagons, carriages, boats, armies, etc. Then, poring over a dozen maps, I'd try to plot out the most reasonable route and calculate the distance to estimate the time (FYI - writers aren't exactly known for their math skills).
I managed it, but I'd guess I spent well over a hundred hours just on these little details, details that take up no more than a few lines in my novel but have the potential to discredit me if I get them wrong. Even though I put so much into it, I still felt nervous, wondering if I really got it right.
Then last week I was reading the blog of historical novelist Gary Corby and came across a post about something called ORBIS. Essentially, Stanford University has created a (FREE!) resource that would have made my hundred hours of research into 15 minutes. You type in any two cities in the Roman Empire. Then you type in the month of travel and your preferences (i.e., ox cart or fast army march), and it plots out the route, shows you how many days it would take, which cities you would pass through, even how much it would cost (in 220 C.E.).
I am SO happy to have learned about this! I wish it existed years ago, but it was really nice to type in all my character's journeys and discover that my tedious calculations were overall pretty accurate. Thank you, Stanford!
I've been a writer since...well, since I learned how to write. As a child I would write and bind little storybooks with my classmates cast as the lead characters. As a teenager I was shy and the the perpetual "New Girl", and I funnelled all my loneliness and angst into more than a hundred works of poetry.
In my twenties I decided I wanted to write novels. So, I started working at it. I earned a degree, got life experience (a lot of life experience), all the while researching, and writing, and working on my craft.
It took me longer than I expected, but after ten years of work, I feel ready to pursue publication. I have some upcoming opportunites to write magazine articles related to the historical research I've done for my book. A few literary agents have expressed interest in my novel, so maybe something will come through with that in the next year or so also.
Since I aspire to write professionally, it seemed appropriate to invest in a professional author's website, and here it is!