Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And onward we march....

My agent sent my humble little Egyptian historical novel out on wider submission today. I am flattered, excited, intimidated, and generally discombobulated by the list of publishers who will be seeing my book -- or at least the pitch letter for my book. It's really a great list of houses and imprints. What an exciting thing, to have a chance to run with the big dogs!

Here's hoping for the best. I will try not to make myself crazy while we wait. I vow that I will check my email only three times per day. The rest of my time will be spent working on Book 2 and percolating all those other great ideas that want to turn into historical novels.

I'm tinkering with some plans to do my own take on Aristophanes' The Birds (god, that sounds so pompous -- who the hell am I to do "my own take" on Aristophanes?! But I just love the story so much, and it would be so fun to play around with it.)

The Pocahontas idea is still sloshing around my brain. I haven't done nearly enough learning about the people or the setting, though, for that idea to be anything other than a meager little zygote.

And I am still in love with my Harry Houdini novel, and will eventually get back to researching and outlining that one. The problem with it is that it wants to be long. Really, really long. It's definitely one that will have to wait until my career is well established and editors are happy to look at books by Libbie that far exceed the usual 90,000 words.

I think, though, once I've gotten the Thutmosides out of my system, I will then start putting serious work into The Horse Fiddle, a book I've been sort of mentally writing for several weeks now. It will be set in ancient Mongolia, and it will allow me to exorcise all the emotional torment I am currently feeling over my personal situation(s). Grief and sorrow are at least good for fueling memorable prose.

I like the way Stephanie uses cool pictures in all her blog posts, so I'm going to do the same from now on. It's fun. Why not?

Hard times.

Nothing is ever easy, they say. Whoever "they" are.

Writing keeps me sane when times get really hard.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I am dead beat!

When I'm employed, I'm a zoo keeper. And I've been unemployed (except for a short stint as a seasonal worker at a book store, which was pretty darn fun) since the end of December. However, to keep my resume active I have been volunteering four days a week at the local zoo. It's been great to get experience with a variety of animals, and this same zoo just posted a few jobs, which I have applied for...so hopefully soon I'll be working again.

In the meantime, though, volunteering has been a rewarding but tiring experience. Today I got a real workout, shoveling gravel to build a ramp in ostrich holding, and disinfecting the ungulate barn (this involved an inordinate amount of vigorous scrubbing). My goodness, I won't have to worry about doing an upper-body workout at the gym for a couple of days. I have a feeling I'm going to be extremely sore for quite a while.

Now, I need a nap like nobody's business. Attacking zebra poo with a scrub-brush for a solid hour will really take it out of you. When I wake up, it will be back to work on Book 2. I'd like to get as much of it written and cleaned up as I can, because tomorrow I'm supposed to hear back from the editor at Crown who currently has my book. If she wants to buy it, GREAT! If she doesn't, my agent is sending Book 1 out on wide submission...which is exciting and a little bit scary! Either way, I'd like to get as much written as I can on another Egyptian historical, just in case somebody somewhere expresses interest in buying more than one book. I'm crossing my very tired fingers!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Well, I did manage to get a little writing done today. 1300 words. Not solid gold for me, but a whole lot better than ZERO! Here's hoping for a better writing day tomorrow. I'd like to finish the first section of Book Two this weekend, if I can, and I need to make some serious progress to get there.

For now, though, it's my friend's birthday, and I've got to get ready to go celebrate. With nachos. Mmm. Nachos.

Insomnia. :(

I do not enjoy insomnia. No sir, not at all. It is one of several enemies of creativity for me. Poor sleep will flatten my ability to write well, or to write at all, for days at a time. Alcohol also kills my creative energy. Because of this, I seldom drink at all; when I do, it's a single glass of wine or beer. On very special occasions, I will drink to the point of very mild intoxication -- hardly a buzz -- perhaps once a year.

Writing predictably and well is excruciatingly important to me. I've sacrificed the "typical" social life of somebody my age (staying out late, social drinking) in order to shepherd and protect my creative energy. I figure if I don't look out for it and treat it with respect, I could well lose it. And where would I be then?

If only I had that same kind of control over my weird cycles of insomnia. They come and go in a fairly predictable rhythm, but I've never been able to identify what triggers them. I suppose it's just one of those facts of being myself that I've got to accept.

Now I'm going to try to take a nap. Maybe when I wake up, I'll be able to write!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I wrote 2000 words this morning, in between juggling my little crisis with my unemployment benefits (thank goodness I will probably have another job in a few weeks!), and after a break for a little grilled cheese and tomato soup, I read back over what I'd written, just to get my brain back into my story.

To my dismay, what I'd written this morning just wouldn't work. It wouldn't work at all. For a variety of reasons. I'd written my character into a situation that was all wrong for her. She would be forced to react in a way that wouldn't feel in-character to the reader. So I chopped out the entire new chapter, and I'm back to Square One. Or Square Five, since this is the fifth chapter.

I try not to edit as I go. I prefer to give a quick editorial pass after I've finished a draft, and then let somebody who's not so close to the story (my agent) tell me what needs improvement or outright destruction. I find that I produce a better story at a much greater speed if I ignore all my inhibitions and just write. But every once in a while, you can tell you're not heading in the best direction. So the chapter went, and I'm going to start again, taking a different tack on this scene and probably utilizing a different POV character. Once in a while, a little judicious editing as one writes is a good thing.

I do have a problem I still haven't figured out, though. How do I sneak young Hatshepsut out of the walls of the harem? She's wearing a dress (unusual for her), so climbing a tree and jumping over the wall isn't really an option.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A fantabulous writing day!

After a long (and acceptable, given my circumstances) bout of ennui, during which I wrote really nothing except some rather fraught poems, I finally broke through the wall and got back into the old swing of things. In fact, I far exceeded the old swing of things, laying down a cool 7,000 words in my second novel. Included in the scenes I wrote: A food fight between pre-adolescent Hatshepsut and her jerk of a half-brother, and the big reveal by her mom that she has a male soul. Or, actually, eight of them. Surprise!

It was a fun day. My characters did some fun things, and we all had a very chummy good time romping together through the harem house and the Great Palace of Waset (aka Thebes). The good times aren't to last, though. Tomorrow sweet little sister Neferubity will meet her untimely demise. Adieu, Nef! You've been fun.


Hello, and welcome to my blog! A little about me, I suppose.

I'm Libbie Hawker, a writer living in the Seattle area. I write novels (all historical fiction so far, with some science fiction and literary fiction planned for the future), short stories, and a little bit of poetry.

You probably are only interested in my writing, and I don't blame you. It's the most interesting thing about me. I began my first novel in June 2009 and finished it in September of the same year. Yes, I write very fast. I type at the speed of sound, and when I already know what I want to say, books tend to come together very quickly. I am fortunate in that I have a very active imagination (still, at the age of thirty!) and don't have a whole lot to do besides sit and write.

In January of 2010, I signed on with my amazing and very talented literary agent, Natalie Fischer. We worked on revisions for my novel throughout February and the first half of March, and the book went on submission to editors on March 11, 2010. It's still out there somewhere, sitting on an editor's desk. It's thrilling to see how quickly my dream of becoming a working novelist is coming together. I've loved books for as long as I can remember, and have always wanted to be a writer -- but didn't really put much effort or thought into it until 2009. Don't let anybody tell you dreams can't come true, kids! If you work hard and type fast, they certainly do.

My first novel, currently titled Bride of Amun (that is subject to change at the whim of people who know more about selling books than I) is set in ancient Egypt, during the Eighteenth Dynasty (one of the coolest in all the thousands of years of Egyptian history, in my opinion) and follows the early life and career of Queen Ahmose, the mother of Hatshepsut (that's the chick who became king, for those who aren't already acquainted with Her Nibs).

I am hard at work on two more Egyptian novels, both of them featuring Hatshepsut herself; and I've got loads of interesting ideas for even more Egyptian novels cooking up in my head. If you're wondering whether I am just a little bit obsessed with ancient Egypt, I tell you now that I am.

But I also love other ancient cultures, and am toying with ideas and outlines for novels set in terribly fascinating old places such as Mongolia, Byzantium, ancient Australia, and Africa; as well as the Biblical Middle East (although I am not a believer, I find some of the Old Testament characters equally fascinating and disturbing, and dual fascination and disturbement make for my favorite kind of writing). Relatively modern history interests me, too, and has called out to me to slash it all to pieces and fictionalize it. The Lost Colony of Roanoke, Pocahontas, Harry Houdini, and Queen Victoria are all subjects I am eyeing with considerable interest, while rubbing my hands together and twisting the ends of my internal handlebar mustache (very dapper, I assure you.)

I love to talk to other writers as well as readers of all stripes (but especially historical fiction nuts). Please do feel free to comment on my blog any time!