I set a goal for myself this past fall. I'd turned in my final Ladies of the Manor book in September. I'd done my rewrite and revisions on it, turning A Lady Unrivaled in again before Thanksgiving. I hoped to have new projects to work on in the new year. So how to spend those last few weeks of 2015?
I knew my answer--finishing up Giver of Wonders, my biblical novel that is scheduled for release in fall of 2016, to be scheduled around A Lady Unrivaled's release and Christmas. Since, you know, this is a Christmas novel. =D
But this book had given me some trouble. I started writing it in a new-to-me-program about a year ago...and I'm apparently too stuck in my ways for this program to work for me. I got 20,000 words in and stalled. I did absolutely nothing with it for months, while working on my other books. And when I pulled it back out, I just wasn't sure what I was going to do.
So I bucked down. I got in a nice groove. I had to put it aside for a week again when my galleys for The Reluctant Duchess arrived (this is the life of a writer with multiple deadlines, LOL), and then I got back to it again. Slowly but surely, that word count climbed.
But around Christmas, when I'd counted on the joy of the season propelling me forward in this Christmas story...I stalled. I reread what I'd written. And I knew something was missing.
See, my biblicals are...er...intense. They have a spiritual depth that isn't always demanded from my other books. They are where I really explore faith and God and His world that I cant always see beyond mine.
It didn't feel like I was doing that enough in this one. I spent a day talking it out with my critique partner/best friend, Stephanie. With my husband, David. I figured part of it out. Then I sat down one evening with a book I'd ordered, which had just arrived a few days before Christmas. Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra: The Life and Times of the Original Father Christmas.
I'd ordered it on a bit of a whim, thinking, The life and times, huh? That could be handy. I haven't found a ton of research on that online. Wise, wise move on my part. As soon as I started reading this, I knew what I'd been missing. I got a glimpse of the land my characters would live in, the culture surrounding them. I gained a deeper understanding of the political and spiritual climate. I could finally picture the architecture.
And it made all the difference. It only took a few chapters, but reading the words of someone who had walked in the places where my characters would have walked made me realize I'd been lacking some key details. More, showed me part of the depth I'd been missing, that came of a clash between the Greeks and the Christians that was far greater than all my online reading had led me to believe.
My goal had been to finish Giver of Wonders by January 1. Of course, that had been before I knew I had galleys coming on another book, so I extended my deadline by a week to make up for it. And I am so thrilled to report that yesterday, after a marathon 2 hours of quiet while my husband had the kids out and about, in which I somehow managed to write 5,000 words, bringing my day's total up 8,199 (even though I also laid out the interior of a book for press and did homeschool), I got to The End. (I never actually write "the end," but, you know. I got there!) I still need to go back and alter the beginning to match the info I discovered from The Life and Times, but the story is there. Done.
And I am one happy girl. =)