Researching the Heretics

“Belgium-5660 – Altar Screen” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Renaissance, a time of turmoil

Father Brignon raised his scruffy gray brows. “Some Protestants hate Catholics, and some Catholics hate Protestants. Some Protestants even hate other types of Protestants.” Sighing, he added, “Everyone is a heretic to someone.”

Exerpt: From the Drop of Heaven

The story behind the story

As I was working on my genealogy one day in 2012, I received an email from Françoise Cordier, a cousin that I had never met. She asked if I knew anything about our common great (x12) grandmother, Catherine Cathillon. While I had Catherine’s genealogical record, I knew nothing else about her.

I had never considered writing prior to meeting Françoise, but since she’d asked about Catherine, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind.

My husband and I traveled to France to meet Françoise. She showed us the areas of interest in the book from Strasbourg to Nancy. We went to the lake, saw the mines and forges, and walked the streets of Vacquenoux. It sounds weird, but I felt like I was breathing the air that my ancient grandparents breathed. It made all the difference.

We started writing the book together, but we had different visions for it. Françoise was a journalist and a very good writer while I was a software engineer with no dreams of writing. She finished her book years ago and self-published it, while I kept writing and rewriting.

Crossing the Finish Line

I literally sent hundreds of queries over the years. I would rewrite the book, send out queries, get rejected, and throw the manuscript in the drawer, but after only a couple of months, I was at it again. This went on for many years until I lost all confidence that I would ever finish. Yet, my ancient grandmother wouldn’t let me quit.

When I joined the Oxford Writing Critique Group, someone suggested that I enter the manuscript in the Florida Writers Association, Royal Palm Literary Awards, and I only entered because I would get a deep critique of the whole book, which is not something you get from a query letter. Then, to my surprise, I won the Gold Medal for unpublished historical fiction! I am sure that award was the catalyst that made Sunbury Press take notice of my book.

Researching the Heretics

The resources I have listed in the Bibliography are the ones that I have used most often.