Book 2 – Moria’s Time

September 11, 2012 – On November 1, 2011, I started writing Moria’s Time as my 2011 NaNoWriMo project.

About NaNoWriMo – In case you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s an international contest, that’s not really a contest – it’s more of a ‘writing exercise’ as you’re not competing with anyone. It’s just you versus the calendar. NaNoWriMo is short for ‘National Novel Writing Month,’ and it happens every year for the month of November. On the first day of the month, you start writing your book. Before the end of the day on the 30th, you should have uploaded your ms for verification as having at least 50,000 words. If you reach that magic number, you’re a winner.

Now, that’s around 1670 words per day, which doesn’t seem like much. However, I’m here to tell you, it can be grueling. Twice during the month, I had to shift gears in order to be sure I’d make it. 

The first time was early in the book. I knew the approximate amount of calendar time I needed to cover in the book – there’s an event coming in twenty-odd years that’s key to the book. However, the first few chapters didn’t progress down the timeline very fast, so I decided to jump ahead to where Moria was a teenager and pick up the story there. I’d have to fill in the infant-to-teen timeline later.

The other time was when I needed some time to pass quickly. Moria and her mentor, Elizabeth Blackwell, exchanged letters for a few years. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. That one chapter took over a week to write, as there was a great deal of research involved.

When you’re using real historical people, you need to have them be where history knows they were (for the historical accuracy of the book). In addition, there was a lot going on in Moria’s life, too. You have to synchronize these times and events into the overall plot. After nearly a week, I was beginning to panic. Thanksgiving was right around the corner and I was still a long way from 50,000 words.

Then, at last, the chapter was complete. The research and setup in the Correspondence chapter made the next several chapters easier so I blazed through to the 50,000 words from there … and had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too. I verified my 50,000 word count on November 26.

Moria’s Time is an adult historical romance.

The book opens with the story of the vision at the end of Janelle’s Time, told in a different POV. Agnes MacKendall, the old healer in Eastwell on Devonwood in England, had a vision of Moria as a young woman, although, at the time, she thought it was about Janelle. However, when she saw the infant Moria, she realized it wasn’t about Janelle at all, but this tiny baby. Agnes told Richard and Janelle that her vision was of Moria traveling far from home, surrounded by danger, not only to her but to everyone around her.

During that same visit, Agnes and Janelle determined that the infant Moria had the MacKendall women’s gifts, but to what measure, and in what category or categories would be revealed as she grew up. Janelle, through her mother, was only one-quarter MacKendall, but defied the family legend, which said that only ‘pure’ MacKendall women could possess certain powers. Now, it seemed, her daughter, Moria, might also defy the legend.

All they could do was wait and see. However, the ‘wait and see’ wasn’t easy. Richard and Janelle fretted and worried. Janelle, impatient for answers, wanted to use her time travel ability to search for those answers, but realized that a ‘needle in a haystack’ would be easy by comparison, plus Richard was against the idea.

Later, Richard and Janelle shifted their focus from the endless and impotent fretting and worrying to preparing their daughter for whatever was ahead. Janelle and Maura worked out a plan to make sure the child had as much information as they could get into her head so she could take care of herself—and others—if necessary.  In the process, Adelle was left to her own devices, which created something of a family dynamics problem.

Edward Grayson, one of Richard’s brothers, had talked for many years – even before Damian brought his younger sons to New Hampshire in 1827 – of going off on his own and traveling in the American west. This finally happened in 1841. He promises to keep in touch, but after two years, the letters stopped.  Years later, the assembled family spends an evening at Devonwood, the family estate near Melton Mowbray in the English midlands, discussing Edward, now missing for over ten years. If they were to mount a search, when would that happen, and whom would they send to search for him? The issue remained unresolved while other, seemingly more pressing matters took Edwards place in their minds.

When Moria was just six years old, she showed an interest in the medicinal plants around her. For the next several years, Moria, Janelle’s long-time companion, now retired, and Rhona, Janelle’s new companion, worked with her, reminding her of the knowledge she was born with – the ancient medical arts. By the time Moria was fourteen, she was as good a healer as any doctor, and in some ways, better.

Both Maura and Angus Gordon passed away in 1846, Maura, in her sleep early in the year, and Angus, near the end of the year. Much loved by the Graysons and everyone who knew them, they are together again and happy. The deaths of Maura and Angus hit me very hard. This one chapter was surprisingly difficult to write – several days and 2 boxes of tissues later, they’re now at peace.

In 1848, Moria had a chance, through the brother of one of Adelle’s friends, to meet Elizabeth Blackwell, a real-life historical character who would go on to become the first registered female MD in the US and the UK. This meeting took place in Geneva, New York, where Miss Blackwell was attending a medical college. Miss. Blackwell became Moria’s mentor after discovering the teen aspired to become a doctor. During the same trip, Damian Gerard, a closet-abolitionist, met Frederick Douglass, a slave-turned-newspaperman/author. Adelle demanded to come along for the shopping she’d get to do.

Growing up with Adelle as a sister was a challenge. While they were twins, they were complete opposites. Adelle, self-centered and self-absorbed, demanded all the attention.  Prone to temper tantrums designed to get her way, she taxed the patience of everyone around her. Janelle summed her up at one point by remarking that Adelle was her daughter and she loved her more than life itself, but she didn’t like her very much.

During the same visit to England where Edward was the topic of conversation one evening, Sinjin (short for St. John), the current Duke of Devonwood, arranged for an audience with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This involved the entire family moving themselves from Devonwood to Adelle House, the family London town home in Mayfair outside London, not far from Buckingham Palace.

Once everyone was at Adelle House, Moria contacted Miss Blackwell who was in London for training. Miss Blackwell had met Florence Nightingale some years earlier and knew Moria would be interested in getting to know her, too. The three ladies – Moria, Miss Blackwell and Miss Nightingale – spent an enjoyable evening together, but Moria knew there was more to Miss Nightingale than this causal visit.

After the Grayson family’s audience, Queen Victoria invited the family to have dinner at the palace, and then attend a children’s ball in the Throne room designed to train her oldest two children in the social niceties and protocol of such an occasion.

In return, the Grayson family invited all of the attendees (the Queen’s children, and their friends who attended the ball, and all of the families) to Adelle House for a ball there in a week’s time.

February 10, 2013 – Moria’s Time is now complete. I’ve sent it to my editor, and when the editing work is complete, I’ll be sending it to my beta readers.

As twins, Adelle and Moria travel, more or less, the same path in life until they are in their early twenties. Then, their paths diverge.  Moria is summoned to England by Florence Nightingale, which she knows now will culminate in the fulfillment of the long-ago vision – she’s prepared to go to that far away place with the danger all around.  In the meantime, Miss Nightingale sees to it that Moria is afforded some practical experience by putting her to work in a charity hospital in London’s east end.  Along the way, Moria meets Dr. Hensley, a man she admires greatly until she feels threatened by his presence in her life – simply because a man. She feels he has the ability to derail her goal of becoming a doctor in the male-dominated field.  But, in time, she learns that he’s not the enemy, and is, in fact, able to help her achieve her goals.

At the ball at Adelle House after the audience with the Queen, Adelle meets Theo who is heir-apparent to his father’s title of duke, and therefore a viable candidate to be her husband – her life-long goal has been to meet and marry a duke, however unlikely that may seem to everyone else.. However, Theo is a cad and Adelle is badly hurt. However, in time, she meets Walter, also an heir-apparent to his father’s title of duke. While Walter’s father does not like Adelle (she’s not a peer, after all), Walter is very much in love with Adelle, seeing only the good in her, and encouraging her to do better.

In the meantime, Adelle leaves home and goes to live and work at an orphanage she ‘volunteered’ at during her teen years.  From there, she has her own story/book.  She returns to England to try again to find her duke.

There is a lot more to the story, of course. Going into editing, the book is quite long.  What the end count will be remains to be seen.

May 1, 2013Moria’s Time has been slow-going in the edits department.  Just this past week, I sent it out for the second round of editing.

I’ve been posting excerpts from Moria’s Time for a while now with more to come.

I’m very excited about this book!  As is common, Moria’s Time (book 2) is better than Janelle’s Time (book 1, my debut novel).  My writing skill has increased, my editor is tough, and the story has more depth.  It won’t be long now.

June 28th, 2013 – Well, it’s a done deal. While Moria’s Time was at the editor’s, I did the research and found a very promising publisher.  This group has been in business for 15 years and has published over 300,000 titles for over 150,000 authors, so they know what they’re doing.  I signed on with them – AuthorHouse – and now know the book will be published around the middle of August 2013.  I’m already very impressed with this publisher and all the great people I’ve met there already!

I’ve also sent the book to 2 beta readers.  One is my mother, a non-fiction author herself, who, at age 90 has begged me to let her read this book as it’s exactly what she likes best – historical romance with real-life characters woven into the story.  The other beta reader is an avid reader/former co-worker who stepped up at the last minute when another beta reader couldn’t fulfill his duties for health reasons.

August 15th, 2013 – Moria’s Time was released in print format today.  The digital versions will be released soon.  The book will be available from over 25,000 outlets.

Read a chapter here:


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