November 6, 2012

Fun Facts and The Soldier's Cross

pinterest: the soldier's cross
Yesterday Jenny shared with you some fun facts behind the writing of The Shadow Things: rewriting, map-making, contract-signing facts.  Now it is my turn to conjure up for you some trifling tidbits from behind the publication of The Soldier's Cross.  Did you know...

1. I had a great, detailed, intricate outline when I began writing, and ditched it almost before I had used it.  So sad, really; I spent such a deal of time over that outline...  Incidentally, I wrote it in a large pink-and-white spiral-bound notebook during our annual beach trip.  I still have the notebook, and somewhere around here, the outline also exists.

2. The Soldier's Cross was not my first, but my second attempt at NaNoWriMo.  In 2008, caught up in the charm of this newly-discovered challenge, I launched proudly into a story just as the founders would have wanted me to: no plot, no theme, no ending in mind.  It was about a modern-day idiot of a magician.  Bad idea right there: I can't write modern-day setting worth a hoot.  Anyhow, I think I got about 17,000 words total.  Yeah...

3.  Coming up with designs to show the cover designer approximately what I wanted for The Soldier's Cross was hard.  And fun.  I got to trawl through shelves at Barnes & Noble, writing down the titles of covers that caught my eye.  I also found that I'm particularly fond of covers with a "watered" technique, where different aspects run together.

4.  I went with my father to sign the contract for my novel, and when Jenny signed hers, I went along with her and her husband.  After that we went to Chick-fil-a, despite Jenny's cold.  Good times.

5.  I listened to a great deal of music while writing The Soldier's Cross; apparently something about me has greatly changed, because I can't listen to music and write now.  I recall large doses of Mannheim Steamroller (The Holly and the Ivy is a favorite), Fernando Ortega (Noonday Devil especially), and Twila Paris (Daughter of Grace is really the theme song for the novel).  When I picture the winter scenes, particularly in the convent, my mind goes to The Holly and the Ivy.

6. I still can't make a pretty signature, and it pains me to look at books from the 1800s with beautiful signatures in calligraphic font.  Enough said.

7.  My clearest memory of plotting The Soldier's Cross is of the scene with the Duke of Gloucester and the slobbering dog.  How charming.

8. Although I finished out NaNo 2009 with 62,000 words, I put the novel aside for a month or so because I could not bring myself to kill a character who most certainly had to die.  I believe it was my dad who at last informed me that I needed to buckle down and write the stupid scene.  (Well, I hope it's not stupid, and he wouldn't have said it in this terms anyhow, but you get the idea.)  That makes it very difficult to say exactly how long it took me to write the book.

9. I finished writing on a Sunday afternoon, and made the mistake of immediately calling up Jenny to tell her all about it.  I say this was a mistake because I happened to wake her up from a nap, and that's just not something you do if you value your skin.  She didn't flay me (hard to do through the phone), but she was not terribly excited.  Finishing novels on Sundays is not recommended.


  1. Fascinating. Loved the last two facts. My NaNo last year closed with the death of a character, and despite my completing NaNo with days to spare, I couldn't get that closing chapter out for a month or so, so I know what you mean.

    And don't finish books on Sunday Afternoon. Got it. Will remember that jewel of information.

    Of course, all of the facts were great, I just loved the last two best.

  2. I really loved this, Abigail! All the facts were wonderful and interesting - and a fun-to-read post! I admit I had to laugh about you dreading the scene when that poor character had to die. I so totally sympathize! I finished the first draft of a book in October, and the end (yes, a character had to die!) had me in complete tears. I could hardly write and had to put the laptop up for a time! It is amazing how much you grow attached to the characters born from your pen! :-)

    A fellow writer,


  3. Wow, I loved this post, Abigail! This was a great read. I had to laugh with your having troubles killing off a character in your story. I had the same problem at 14 and never finished it. Happily, I have gotten over that, and now deaths are what I specialize in - just kidding. It is still hard sometimes when it is a character you are especially fond of!
    Must ask, is Wordcrafter really 152k? I have never written a story more then 62k, can't imagine it. I suffer from impatience, the plague of a lot of writers. Some day I hope to accomplish it!
    Here's a laugh for you. I read it today and it rings true - The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

    Yes, yes?


  4. Fun post! The amazing thing is that a lot of it sounds like I could have written it myself! So I'm not the only one who can't write modern-day settings? I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me. :) And I can't listen to music while writing either...and my signature is pretty awful...and I'm still hesitant to kill characters (except the worst villains).

  5. I can't write modern day settings either! I couldn't even think of a story to write set in this age!


  6. Kendra - I'm still not a big fan of killing characters, villains or otherwise, but I can now reconcile myself to it when I know it has to happen. And yes, finishing stories on Sundays is a bad habit of mine; I finished The Running Tide on a Sunday afternoon as well!

    Patience - Well, in a way, the characters are real people. It seems reasonable to me for the writer to have difficulty saying goodbye. But alas, sometimes it must be. In this case, the issue was historical accuracy. No cure there!

    B. - Yes, Wordcrafter is 152,000 words! But the whole first draft of The White Sail's Shaking was about 180,000-190,000, before I broke it into two books, so I no longer find the previous wordcount all that impressive... And they're nothing compared to Jenny's novels! Or Victor Hugo, for that matter.

    That quote by Christie is so amusing. I find the shower the best place for inspiration, though. Nothing better.

    Elisabeth Grace - I tend to find my modern-day scenes extremely difficult, at the very least, and frequently pedantic-sounding as well. I had a better time with the contemporary scenes of Wordcrafter, but they were never my favorite to write. I wonder why that is.

  7. I find unrepentant people the hardest to kill ... which the one of characters killed in the closing scene was (did I mention that I killed two characters in that scene?). Killing them ... I know they're not real, but I just don't like sending them to judgement.

    And I can't write modern day very well, either. I think it's because we as authors tend to be more out of touch with the real world, especially if we're homeschooled, so we're daunted by the task of writing something everyone knows. The only people who'd get onto us with HF are historians, and who's to judge culture in a culture you make up. But everyone knows what life is like in modern day (except us, of course) so we have to get it right ... which is extremely hard.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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