Starting another novel

Unremembered Lives is about ready for my agents to send out to publishers. Usually I have a little break between novels, but this time I started the next one almost immediately. It's a story I've thought about telling since before I started writing The Sparrow back in 1992. Now's the time to tell it. This one will bring me full circle -- back to anthropology, back to religion, back to elements of history that have interested me for decades. The first two chapters just flew into existence. The structure is clear to me. The tone feels natural. This is going to be ...
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Jeremy Renner on the DOC/EPITAPH project

Jeremy Renner recently commented on playing Doc in the Palmstar Production based on my two novels, Doc and Epitaph. “I’ve been looking at doing a Doc Holliday origin story as a series for Netflix or Amazon.” Although still in early stages, his focus for it seems intense and genuine, according to this Esquire article, and he's mentioned the project in other interviews. They're seeing it as a limited series. “It will be one of those cable sort of situations, where you can binge watch 10-hours of it. That deep level of character-driven storytelling really interests me.” More when I get additional details.   ...
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Every year at this time…

My brother has asked me to repost this blog every year. Jeanne's grandbaby Brinn is now in kindergarden and has a beautiful little brother. Days of Awe September 26, 2012 According to Jewish tradition, the ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Years) and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim). Those ten days are set aside for serious introspection. They are a time to consider our lives and deeds during the past year and to think about how to do better in the year to come. If indeed we have another ...
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That will teach me not to check this website…

I've been in lock-down for the past three months: finishing the first complete draft of Unremembered Lives, doing the first five editing passes through the manuscript, sending it out for comments, re-editing, fixing errors, filling in, filling out, "linearizing" chapters that looped around in time and tense. Etc. While that was going on, I didn't check this website, and when I opened it up today, there was enough spam to denude the world of both pigs and rectangular aluminum cans. You'd be amazed by how many young ladies (who assure me they are adults) would like to engage in remarkable feats of ...
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Writer Tech: complete vs. finished

A week ago, I got to the final scene of my work-in-progress. It is complete, which is to say, it's got a coherent plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end. My elevator pitch for Unremembered Lives is "a Romeo and Juliet story set against the backdrop of a bitter 1913 copper strike in Michigan." At 91,000 words and 363 manuscript pages, it's the shortest of my novels so far, but that's not surprising. Unremembered Lives has a relatively compressed time period (seven months in 1913) and it takes place mostly in one small town (Calumet, Michigan). Now comes the editing. Usually ...
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DOC and EPITAPH optioned

Last summer, I signed an option with PalmStar Productions for a screen adaptation of Doc and Epitaph. So much time had gone by with no news, I was starting to wonder if they'd dropped the project, but yesterday an announcement appeared in a number of outlets, so I am free to talk about it now. I've learned a lot since 1996, when The Sparrow was first optioned by Antonio Bandera's production company. First lesson: don't get excited. Many are optioned but few are produced. An option is an agreement that for a set period of time (usually one year, with an option ...
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When characters surprise me

Unremembered Lives is about 4/5ths complete now, and the characters have officially taken over. That's a good thing. This has happened to me before, and I've heard other writers remark on how startling it can be. [Spoiler Alert!] When I was writing The Sparrow, I knew that the priest was going to stay true to his vows but I was also aiming at a scene where his resolve would be tested. I even knew the line I was going to steal from Shakespeare: "Serve God, Emilio. Love me." When I finally got to the point in the story where I was going ...
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Historical novels: alternative facts allowed?

Technically, novelists can make up anything they please, but getting things right is important to me, particularly when writing historical novels. I always try to create characters whose actions, decisions, dialog, and thoughts are comprehensible and who feel real within a narrative that seems believable. That's true even for science fiction like The Sparrow and Children of God, where the situation and all the characters are entirely fictional. Obviously, when Abraham Lincoln fights vampires, it's fantasy, not historical fiction; nobody's going to mistake the fun parts for what really happened. Personally, I hesitate to use a historical personage's name for a character ...
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DOC for $1.99 on Kindle

Doc is my personal favorite among the books. Click to find the special e-book offer.    ...
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Crass Commercial Message

The easiest and probably cheapest way to have me inscribe books is to order from Mac'sBacks. Order by Dec. 14th for delivery by Dec. 24th. http://www.macsbacks.com/mary-doria-russell-signed-books There's a COMMENTS box at the end of the order form where you type in if you want just a signature or an inscription like: To Janie, congratulations on graduating from dental school." Or whatever. The owner, Suzanne, brings books to my home to be inscribed and then mails them directly to you. If you buy from the Evil Empire, you'll have to pay Darth Vader for the book, then pack it up and mail it to ...
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