Charles Web Journal

My blog is intended to show how I construct and write a historical novel. It will be a journal of my daily writing activity, as I write a new historical novel.

Location: Evansburg, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired school teacher with a B. Ed in English literature a B.A. in History. After a long career as a teacher of English and history, I now write historical novels based on Canadian history.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Still revising

Today I continued scrutinizing the work for any sentence that begins with “There”. To me that indicates a poorly constructed sentence that can be greatly improve by eliminating that word and restructuring the sentence usually making it stronger.

Next, I’ll go through the work each chapter at a time checking to see that it has a conflict of some sort. Without conflict, whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological, the reader will soon lose interest. I like to leave a chapter with a cliffhanger; that always excites the reader’s attention, but of course that’s not always possible.

At the same time, I look at each sentence carefully to try to improve it as I read along.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rewriting and revising

I’m back at working on my latest novel. I finished the first draft early in August so I’ve let it set, so to speak, for a couple months. Now I’m checking it for spelling and grammar and a few of the other test that I make on my writing before I turn to the structure of plot, characterization, basic conflicts, and effectiveness of the writing.

I use the spellchecker in Word, but I don’t depend on it entirely as I know that it’s not reliable. Although it catches many typos and misspellings, it does not locate words that are spelled correctly but inappropriately used. That takes careful reading.

Then I go over the work for the use of “had” and particularly passive sentences. I try to avoid them, the past pluperfect and the use of the verb “to be” as it usually indicates a passive sentence. I find that the simple past give the writing more immediacy.

That’s the simple part of rewriting. The difficult work is searching the plot for poor action and definition. Another stumbling block is characterization. Do the characters act consistently? Are they well delineated so that they are human with all the foibles and idiosyncrasies of real people?

Are their actions in harmony with their nature and personality? Although I do an in depth character sketch of each individual before I start writing the story, I still check to see that they conform to that.

Today was the start of a long and meticulous scrutiny of the first draft.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Today was a good writing day. I wrote two short e-zine articles on words, one on the inadequacy of words to express emotions and ideas, the other on how the choice of words affects the writer’s style.

Then I did a bit of housecleaning so to speak: discarding files that I no longer needed, backing up files that were necessary, and moving files into folders to make the system more efficient.

I prepared flyers for delivery to promote my upcoming signing at the local bookstore.

I began thinking about my next book, my next work in progress, but I did nothing but think and consider. Several ideas came to mind, but nothing yet excites me to the point that I want to begin planning although that will come sooner or later.

I did design some bookmarks to use for promotion during the signing session, but I haven’t decided whether or not I will use them. Nevertheless, they are available if I should decide to go that root.

Oh, by the way, while writing the two e-zine articles, I dug out my copy of Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. What a wealth of information on writing in such a ‘little book.” If you don’t have a copy, get one. You will never regret it; the advice is exceptional. Every writer should own a copy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Today was one of those days when nothing went right! My computer acted up and my printer refused to print the way it should. No matter what I tried, nothing worked.

First I wanted to print some brochures for a signing that I’ll be doing on September 24, at Vimar Books, the local bookstore, but the computer kept freezing up on me. Somehow I suspect that’s related to the fact that I downloaded the new Yahoo! Messenger which, of course, doesn’t work properly either, certainly not as well as the old one.

When I finally got that operational, the printer acted up; after two new ink cartridges it still printed with streaks. I cleaned the heads several times and that didn’t help, so I finally abandoned that task.

I decided then to do some editing and revision of one of the historical novels that I wrote several months ago. I loaded that into Word and started reviewing my work, and the power blipped and I lost 10 minutes work or thereabouts. Luckily Word Recovery worked and I could go from there.

By this time, I was completely frustrated, so I tackled the mail for the day. A small royalty check from a publisher helped some but was also a disappointment because I was hoping more books sold.

The bills that came with the mail could never be covered by the check.

I gave up and spent the remainder of the day poking around the yard—cutting weeds here and there, removing some nuisance trees, etc.

Tomorrow may be better!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Holidays are over!

Summer is over! It’s back to work! I have two new books just released so now is the hardest part—promotion! I suppose most writers are like me and find this time frustrating and irritating: press releases to send out, signings to book, interviews to cope with, and all the other activities involve in promoting a book.

I suppose, though, that’s better than waiting for a rejection letter!

One of my new books is The Venturers that I’ve already advertised in this blog and on my web sites; the other is a romance written under a nom de plume, a pseudonym, or an aka. It’s Inheritance of Love.

Both are available online at various bookstores including,, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Booksamillion, as well as many more.

I have one signing set up at a local bookstore and a promise at another bookstore. As well, I have been featured in one local newspaper and another has interviewed me.

I suppose the publicity won’t hurt, and it may sell a few books although I know that not a large percentage is sold in bookstores.

Today I worked on my mailing list, e-mail and regular. Soon I will be reminding all of my books and my websites, of which I have four: one for all my books, one author site, and a site for each of my latest books. Each is different, and each requires maintenance. Changes and correction are an ongoing chore, but it does help the royalty check at the end of each half year.

I haven’t yet planned my year of writing; I do hope to start another novel soon, but I still have the last WIP to work on: proofreading, rewriting, revising, and polishing.

And my publisher wants to see the sequel to The Venturers that is part of a series that covers the history of Canada from 1670 to 2000.

I guess I have plenty of work to do!