It’s been a while since I’ve updated this site. Too long.
With spring approaching, I’ve renewed my commitment to writing, because it’s a commitment to ME. It’s okay to step back and it can recharge you-even when all hope is lost.
It’s not always that way.
Sometimes life changes, work and family pull us in so many directions that we never realize. We put writing off for a day, a week and then the guilt. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time, we’re tired. It’s too much effort. We drop CPers, stop taking classes, let the writer association lapse.
Stop thinking of ourselves as a writer.
That’s okay, fine.
It’s when we listen to those insidious voices-I’ll never make it-the competition is stiff-I took this as far as I could-its just too HARD.
That’s when the damage is done. The damage that we may never push through, the block.
And this is a block, make no mistake.
It may not be a block of ideas, a true “Writer’s Block”, but it’s a block and one that is terrifying. Unexpected. Writing is solitary but this can make us feel isolated.
Sometimes it is the WIP. Sometimes. Just stayed too long. Usually, the rx is to put that aside and start something fresh.
Because what I’m talking about, goes way beyond hating the WIP, characters etc. And it’s emotional, raw, in the gut-like being in a marriage you want out of. You just can’t do it anymore.
Sound familiar? So you crawl out of the hole, it’s scary. It’s not pretty, but you climb.
During hiatus stay in touch with CPers. Keep one toe in.
Write on Sundays-sometimes if you felt like it.
One day, when the world comes crashing down turn to the oldest friend you know; writing.
You won’t even have to apologize. No excuses to make, let it take you in, like it has so many times. Renew old connections, take classes, jump into a contest or two and it will be like you never left.
Writing is how I process the world, and my life. That’s just it.
Open up the WIP; write. And edit and believe.
And it’s HARD. Remember, yes the market is crowded, the slush is bursting but most people still don’t do this. Most people you know, won’t ever write a book, or finish a project. Yes, this is brass ring stuff. It’s HARD.
Even after the darkest winter, the cherry blossoms will always come out again, my writing will always welcome me back. Let it welcome you. I won’t stop being a writer. I’m old enough now to know I’ve been writing longer than not.
“A dog has the soul of a philosopher.” Plato
In 2008, the Italian government declared a state of emergency for Pompeii, Italy. The situation hasn’t improved since then and more deterioration has occurred due to embezzlement of funds appointed for restoration projects. Among the disintegrating ruins are wild or abandoned dogs. Many are seen lying about in the shade of ancient walls and ditches.
During my time in Pompeii, my heart was captivated by these forgotten dogs that seemed to want human companionship but were so afraid to trust. So they stayed in the shadows, the only visible inhabitants among the ancient rubble. In today’s ancient ruins of Pompeii, the result of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD., most of these dogs are callously dumped off by people who no longer want them. Few of them have been spayed or neutered so puppies add to the homeless population.
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We need to believe not hang it up.
Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. ~E. L. Doctorow
Writers Write, Right? So I’ve been remiss. For almost three months. Oh, I’ve dabbled, written a few posts and letters, etcetera. But I hadn’t composed any new prose since November—until last week. That’s when it hit me. I’ve been driving myself bonkers by avoiding actually writing. I’m not sure how many times I need to learn this lesson, but this was not the first time. Apparently I’m a slow learner.
As to how I came to renew the realization, suffice to say I found myself rewriting a chapter in book two that had been made redundant by book one revisions. The two days I spent doing the new chapter were amazing. I felt so alive—exhilarated even. I hadn’t had these particular characters in…
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Elizabeth I: An Uncertain Beginning
In THE TUDOR VENDETTA, the third and final book in my Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy (Elizabeth’s Spymaster in the UK), I decided to focus on the first uncertain, tumultuous months leading up to Elizabeth I’s coronation. Although this novel is perhaps the most fictionalized of the three in the series, in that the mystery which Elizabeth’s private spy must uncover remains unsubstantiated by historical evidence, the setting I depict is not.
It’s almost impossible for us to believe now that Elizabeth Tudor faced an uncertain future upon her accession. Her forty-five year reign has been so cemented in our imagination as one of unmitigated triumph that we take it as a given. Her ability to steer past the shoals of religious discord and enmity of Catholic powers both abroad and in her realm, as well as her astonishing lack of compromise when it came to marriage, have made her an icon: the Virgin Queen, Gloriana, who once said she already had a husband, for she was “married to England.”
Nevertheless, the twenty-five year old princess who claimed the throne in November 1558 was, while superbly educated and politically savvy, still untried as a ruler. Indeed, she faced a myriad of issues that might have overwhelmed anyone but her. After her sister Mary I’s disastrous five-year reign—a portion of which is depicted in the second novel of the series, The Tudor Conspiracy— England teetered on the brink of ruin. Mary’s fervent persecution of Protestants had turned the country upside down, exiling or destroying many of the affluent merchants who upheld the Reformed Faith and formed the backbone of economic stability. Her ill-fated marriage to Philip of Spain had turned popular opinion against her, a tragic side-effect of her determination to see England restored to Rome, which annihilated the initial wave of support from her subjects that saw her to the throne. In addition, her economic policies had debased the coinage even further—an ongoing issue that had bedeviled her predecessors, and now fomented severe discontent, with the strife over the enclosure or sale of monastic lands begun under Henry VIII, a long-gnawed bone of contention between nobility and commoners.
Elizabeth thus inherited a legacy of intolerance, brutal reprisal, and financial chaos; she also was considered nearing her middle years, as surprising as this might seem to us, because of overall life expectancy in her era, and of her family, in particular. The need to marry and produce an heir was therefore paramount to her advisors, most particularly William Cecil, who had safeguarded her during the years before her accession. Marriage was deemed not only vital to shoring up her reign, but also to protecting her from foreign aggression, now personified by her cousin, Mary of Scots, the dauphine of France by virtue of her marriage to the French king’s heir. Catholics by and large believed Mary of Scots held the superior right to the English throne, based on the contention that Henry VIII’s marriage to Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, had been illegal. Many Catholics deemed Elizabeth a bastard usurper, including the pope himself.
Elizabeth’s famous motto of video et taceo (“I see, and say nothing”) may have arisen as she began to realize just how tenuous her reign could be. She is renowned for not wanting to “make mirrors into men’s souls”. Perhaps this, above all else, was her most defining characteristic. She did not believe that prying into private matters, religious or otherwise, would serve her in the long run—a rare stance for any ruler, much less an untried one, yet one which, as history would show, served her well.
In THE TUDOR VENDETTA, we meet Elizabeth in the first weeks of her much-vaunted reign—here, she is a woman who has survived more in her youth than many experience in a lifetime, having navigated the seesaw of favor and disfavor, the stigma of illegitimacy, the scandals that marred her adolescence, and even a terrifying imprisonment in the Tower. But she is not yet the Elizabeth who will eventually emerge from the forge of trial-and-error; she is not the white-faced, oversize-gowned sovereign of legend.
She is still a new queen, determined but unproven, treading on thin ice. She dreams of being the savior of her nation, but her path to glory will be arduous—and she may lose everything if she fails to protect one potentially fatal secret.
I hope you enjoy exploring this exciting time in one of history’s most dramatic eras. To learn more about THE TUDOR VENDETTA and my other books, please visit me at http://www.cwgortner.com
Please join C.W. Gortner as he tours the blogosphere for the release of the third book in his Spymaster Chronicles Series, The Tudor Vendetta, from October 20 – November 28, and enter to win a complete set of the trilogy!
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Spymaster Chronicles
Genre: Historical Mystery
Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.
Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.
The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.
Praise for The Tudor Vendetta
“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series
“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud
“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist
Buy the Book
About the Author
C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.
The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books
Thursday, October 23
Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Bookish
Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book
Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes
Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 5
Review at One Book at a Time
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More
Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club
Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog
Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast
Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, November 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy (The Tudor Secret, The Tudor Conspiracy, and The Tudor Vendetta) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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It is my pleasure to offer my review of The Tudor Vendetta.
C.W. Gortner is a master story teller. He weaves a tale that captures the imagination and delivers all the bells and whistles you’ve come to expect with his Tudor series. He takes the complex socio-political history of Elizabethan Britain, and distills it down to the juices, to render what is necessary, like a gardener, weeding out the “boring parts” to keep the story rocketing forward, in fact history comes so naturally to him that he whisks the reader off to this court of Elizabeth before they ever realize it. This skill is so worthy of praise, because historical fiction writers appreciate the difficulties in keeping history and story separate.
The book is a fast read that hints with each page turn that something bigger is coming, stakes way beyond the disappearance of Lady Parry. Brendan Prescott, ever the faithful spy has provided his queen with loyalty and service. Her reign is still young, there are dark enemies and all is not what it seems. He is called upon again to investigate the disappearance of a trusted retainer. When Prescott happens on a secret regarding Elizabeth, the question is what will he do with it? Will he step up or will the side of him that feels he can never be good enough, the side that knows he has inferior Tudor blood, win the day? If he makes the right decision there is no guarantee he can stop the secret from splitting Elizabeth’s reign asunder.
I loved the vivid characterization of Elizabeth I-her ambition, her devotion to country, her complicated relationship with Robert Dudley all provide mirror images of Prescott’s struggles. Here again Gortner excels at putting flesh and blood on the bones of his characters. We don’t get the archetypical Elizabeth, the “Gloriana” figure of history, we get the woman behind the crown. All the characters appear entirely real with failings and vulnerabilities, and that’s why we love them. I adore Tudor stories and this one doesn’t disappoint. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
I was chatting the other day during my errands. Writing came up, and they grew wide-eyed and interested as they asked, almost conspiratorially, “You’re a writer? How do you get published?” I realized then, that the novice who dreams of writing, is all too interested in putting cart before horse. It was only after I was slugging bundles in the back seat that I wished I could have said more.
I vaguely recall that place. Where the drive is nascent but not yet crystalized enough to carry them through the long days night. They really have no idea what they are doing. It’s dangerous, and kinda exciting too. Pull up a chair, or a bed because it’s not easy and it’s not over night. It’s not even next week, maybe not even next year.
1.) Forget publication. For now.
So often when we start thinking the world is ready for our stuff. If you’re just starting out, the world is not ready. You’re not ready. Develop your craft. Take classes through Writers Digest or local extension schools. Write and write some more. If you’ve written a novel or have a Nano project that was never EDITED TO DEATH, forget about subbing. You’re barely out of the gate.
2.) Get in the habit.
Write every day. If you want to write a novel, make an outline first. I started out years ago as a panzter. It made the editing process extra-long and while the book got better with every draft, I knew there was a better way. There are great books on craft out there. Story structure will save your life. You can’t hope to plot out a novel correctly without some form of road map.
3.) Get an obsession.
If you find a higher reason to write all the better. Figure out why you want to do this, not money. Not fame. And when you do, don’t talk about your work. Keep your novel close while you’re in writing phase, don’t show it to friends and family. Trust me, your enthusiasm will wane. It always works for me. This will help you through the endurance phase, when your writing buddies quit, but you have the chops to stick it out.
4.) Speaking of writing buddies.
If you can’t post your work because you can’t take it, you’re not ready. You need good critique partners to swap with. They are your only line of defense in a tough industry. Getting editorial help is a good if you can afford it, but it WILL NOT GUARANTEE success. Why? You pay editors. They have a pecuniary interest in your work. They also take too many projects, if they are in demand. You need unbiased truth here, the kind you will only get from friends who want you to succeed and who play a valuable role helping you along the journey. You help them, they help you. They are the best help you will get, and you will learn hugely by critiquing their work.
5.) Read often.
Writers read. It’s that simple. You can’t learn the craft if you don’t read what others do. Read wide, in your genre and read outside your genre. If you’re trying to get published, read as many debuts as you can to crack the code.
6.) Believe in yourself.
Not everybody can write, despite the old saw that everyone has a story inside. If you can’t write, you’ll find out sooner or later. But if you learn the craft and stick to it, you may be able to get better. It takes grit and a thick skin, those who would give up at the first rejection letter will give up. They won’t believe in themselves or their story. They’ll be swayed by one agent’s opinion and won’t realize that while they can always improve, writing is subjective. Not everyone will love their story. But someone will.
Here’s a great link to K.M. Weiland’s site on Story Structure. I highly recommend the book.
If anyone is interested, e-mail me I have great Theme/Structure Chart you can use to help plot your novel. It’s copywrited by a well-known agent so I will not post. But it helped me immensely.
P is for PERSISTENCE. If you want to get published, learn it. Memorize it. Embrace it.
Publishing is hard. The business rewards those who don’t give up.
Editors and agents will keep it real. Learn from what makes sense, discard what doesn’t. Don’t sell out your dream.
Realize you will be rejected more times than you ever thought possible. Mourn for a day and move on. Revenge query.
Structure will guide you like a headlight along a dark road. Don’t compromise on craft. Read good books.
Imagine yourself at the top, even when you feel like you can’t crawl out of the gutter of rejection. Imagine it. Be it.
Stay the course. If you need another round of edits, dive in. Don’t fight it. Keep editing and carry on.
The fact is, you’re looking for a marriage. You’re looking for the L word. You want that agent to adore your work.
Expect critique partners who help and respect you. Treat other writers as you would be treated.
Never give up. Never. Even when they say your baby’s ugly. Editing is plastic surgery be your own book doctor.
Care for yourself during submissions. Resist the urge to wallow. Buy little rejection gifts, treat yourself to manis/pedis.
Embrace the challenge to get published. Believe in your story. Look for the love in their eyes, even if it’s under every rock on the planet because publishing, more than talent rewards persistence