#amwritinghistoricalfiction: BLUE WATER, DISTANT SHORES, p. 14

“You have been spreading falsehoods. You are a wicked child. Why do you cause your mother so much grief? What evil has infected you? Do you delight in making her miserable? What does it serve?”

Matias is so frightened that he cannot speak a word. “Do you know what mortal sin is?” the priest continues. He rises from the desk. He looks immense, immovable as a boulder.

#amwritinghistoricalfiction: Blue Water, Distant Shores

The language may be a bit portentous. Nevertheless, here is from p. 7:

So the story begins. It is a story of churning oceans, ships, dragon’s breath, siren calls. A story of leviathans and faith, about islands and the building of ships. About Hell and Paradise. About blood and fever. And greed, of course. That, above all.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


#novelinprogress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

This novel is going to live and die on the strength of the voice. It doesn’t matter that it’s set in the 18th century. All self knows is that if the voice isn’t true, it will never work.

She writes things set in the distant future, and those too are voice-driven. Like her story, This Is End, where the hero’s Friends-With-Benefits, Her, tells him: He ended me. Big ended me.

Or when she wrote about the Legazpi expedition of 1571 and crammed her story full of Spanish: De las Islas Filipinas. Paganos. Esta tierra fué la primera. La primera misa.

So of course, Blue Water, Distant Shores is voice-driven. Hard to sustain for 300 pages. Took her three years. Flash is really her jam.

pp. 7 – 8:

  • By the eighteenth century, Spain is already exhibiting signs of exhaustion, its sulky mind tossing and turning, preferring already the deep, fathomless sleep of history’s graveyard to the turbulence of exploration. In the Islands, the Church suffers grievous wounds. Perhaps there is no saving it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

First Draft, Blue Water Distant Shores

The novel’s now in Draft # xx, but self found a print-out of the first draft and started to re-read a week ago. It’s like an undiscovered country. It’s been three years since she even looked at this first draft.

The Bishop of Manila Writes to His Catholic Royal Majesty

Junio, 1755

Most Powerful Lord,

When you assign someone to come to govern this land, Your Majesty should take into account that you are not sending a person who will have to face investigation but an absolute king who does not have any superior, nor anyone to be accountable to but who should be solely motivated by fear of God, the service of Your Majesty and the zeal for the popular good . . .

(and that sentence goes on and on and on for quite a good bit longer)

Reading this first draft is almost like discovering a different self: Who was that long-ago person who said, I am going to write a story about 18th century Phiippines. I am going to make up correspondence between the Bishop of Manila and his Most Powerful Lord, His Catholic Royal Majesty, the King of Spain?

Because if she were to start a novel today, 18th century Philippines would not even be a remote possibility, she doesn’t have that fearlessness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Tuesday: St. John of the Cross

In self’s historical novel (so far, 291 pp), she incorporates poetry.

Here’s a poem she’s including in a chapter called Enigma.

The poem is by St. John of the Cross, in a translation by Catholic scholar Paul Mariani:

Everything about me

Sends word of your myriad graces.

And yet everything hurts,

everything leaves me dying,

stammering on about I don’t know

what’s what.

St. John of the Cross was born Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, in Fontiveros, Avila, Spain in 1542.  He became a Carmelite monk in 1563. His feast day is 14 December.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




So Long, NaNoWriMo2017, #stillwriting

Today self spent the whole day writing. Well, she spent all of yesterday writing as well. And the day before that. And the day before that. And . . .

Actually, the only times she hasn’t been writing in November are when she’s been on an airport or an airplane (pretty often, actually, in November, and lest she forget to mention — Aer Lingus sent her from Dublin to Cork, in a three-hour taxi ride because of a cancelled flight from Heathrow, on Nov. 2)

She did not, of course, do 50k words. But she never expected to anyway.

What she has as of today are 282 pages of a novel-in-progress, and she knows pretty much how she wants it to end.

She even thought of a cool-sounding title for her manuscript, a few days ago:

Blue Water, Distant Shores

Sooo fan-ta-ma-tas-tic. She got the idea yesterday. She likes to think she wouldn’t have gotten there if she hadn’t spent so much time working up to 282 pages. Two years ago, this idea was 60 pages which she forced up to 80 pages so she could go to Banff Writers Studio. And she’s had such problems with confidence (because it’s 18th century, and she’s never written a novel before, and she set it in Spain, which she’s only been to once in her whole life). But, slow and steady, and BIG BIG thanks to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig for giving her that space and that peace and that determination to finish her book.

And she is so happy right now. Incredible.

Stay tuned.


Work-in-Progress, 275 pp

from p. 18 of self’s novel-in-progress (Working Title: Blue Water, Distant Shores):

He sees the creature for the first time on a cold day in early December. He and his mother are walking past the convent of the Carmelites, on the way to hear mass.

It is immense. Gigantic.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

270 pp


Father Leoncio writes to introduce himself, but Matias does not receive the letter, it loses itself somewhere in being passed from hand to hand, it may have lost itself even in the same village that Father Leoncio writes it from, he gave it to a servant who brought it to the larger town where there is a cousin going to Isla del Fuego, and somewhere on the way to the cousin or maybe even before, the letter gets lost. But it doesn’t matter, because when Father Leoncio shows up at Matias’s door, he is overjoyed, he is as happy as if he is greeting a long-lost relative, or a brother, or maybe he is happier than he would have been meeting an actual brother. Well, the long and short of it is, Matias is happy to receive a visitor. And when Father Leoncio asks if he can stay a few nights, Matias is even happier.

In Honor of Self’s First Sign-Up For NaNoWriMo (Which She Will Fail Miserably At, Since She’s Also Moving About Ireland, Plus Teaching)

An excerpt from her now 257-page novel-in-progress about a fighting priest in 18th century Spain:

He decided to play a trick on his mother — to punish her for leaving him alone so long. Perhaps all children suffer from this: the mistaken impression that they have power. Even if just over their mothers.

It seems strange that she is writing science fiction, fantasy, and 18th century historical fiction.

But, hers not to reason why. At least there’s a muse in there, somewhere.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

This: Sou’wester, Spring 2007

The story of the Americans, the Filipinos, the Spanish, a martyr, and a very famous oil lamp:

Manila, 1898:

As Jose Rizal was lined up before the Spanish firing squad, labeled a renegade and underground solidarity worker, American Commodore George Dewey sailed into Manila Bay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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