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Benjamin Campbell

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Sequel Progress

How’s that sequel coming along?

If you follow the posts on Facebook, you know that I am in revision mode right now. I completed another read-through this week. I am not satisfied with the opening section. It is too long. I just don’t think the average reader will stick around until the “good stuff” happens in the middle.

The sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, is meant to pick up around the time of the epilogue in the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. Beth has returned to Scotland. Why? What happened, because the epilogue sounds ominous? It does not sound as if life has turned out well for her.

Also, Benjamin and Tilly’s story ended with what seemed like a “happily ever after.” A few threats to their happiness remained, though. Did their love story end well?

I would love to hear any questions you have about the book, either the first one or the sequel. Maybe you have a question I had not considered. Feel free to comment here or on FB.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

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Through the Mist: Reunion

Yesterday, I announced on Facebook the working title for the sequel. In case you missed it, the title is Through the Mist: Reunion.

I am still hard at work on the sequel to the first novel of the series, Through the Mist: Restoration. I started worked last January but got serious about it after the publication of the first book. To be brutally honest, I had a lot to learn about the craft of storytelling. Serious revisions were necessary for Restoration. I am still learning!

As I hinted on Facebook, the sequel picks up with Beth. The epilogue of the first book hinted that something happened. We will learn what’s happened with her life since Tilly’s mysterious disappearance.

Fans of Benjamin and Tilly will not be disappointed. They are back in the sequel too.

My hope is to finish the book by fall. Ideally, I want to publish it late fall/early winter. We will see. As I have said many, many times, I want this book to be worth the time and money you will spend on it.

In the meantime, I am happy to hear any feedback or answer any questions you have. Thanks for reading!

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Q&A - Richard MacDonald

A friend of mine recently finished reading Through the Mist: Restoration. I welcome feedback about the book. If you leave a comment or write a review, I will read it.

Here are the answers to two questions about Richard MacDonald:

Why did you call Richard “the MacDonald?”

I have noticed that the clan chieftain is usually referred to as “The Clan Name.” Yes, after the ’45, the clan system was destroyed. Titles like “laird” or “The MacDonald" would have represented a way of thinking that simply did not exist.

The phrasing is my subtle clue to Richard MacDonald’s mental state. He believes the old ways are superior. In his musings, he references how he prefers the kilt. He says the Act of Proscription has made his countrymen “soft.”

His rigid thinking is a sharp contrast to Benjamin Campbell’s more progressive ideas.

Why didn’t he bring people with him? Is he crazy?

Yes, he is! Richard knew that Benjamin and Malcolm killed his brother and sister – right under his nose, no less! Then, his father forbade him to seek revenge.

On top of the personal family tragedy, consider that the MacDonalds and Campbells did nasty things to each other throughout the centuries. Look up the Massacre of Glencoe if you want a sample of the violence that existed between them.

He waited in a crumbling castle. The MacDonald lands were seized by the British Crown after Culloden, leaving him with very little. He likely blamed Benjamin and his father for his diminished situation.

All of this would wear on a person as the years went by. When his father died, he was finally free of his promise. He would have been blinded by the desire for revenge. A sensible man might wait for an opportune moment and gather a group of man for the assault. Richard MacDonald is as crazy as a bag of cats, though. He is incapable of sensible thought. He wants revenge – NOW.

Do you have any questions about Richard MacDonald or any of the other characters in the book? Please let me know. I am happy to answer them!

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Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 2

Last week, we learned a bit about how Tilly’s background motivated her to keep moving. What about her marriage to Alex? It is mentioned in the book. We do not hear much about it though.

Since Through the Mist: Restoration is Benjamin and Tilly’s love story, I did not want to dwell too much on previous relationships. After all, when you date someone, do you really want that person to spend hours telling you all about past loves? Not really.

Tilly worked as a waitress at a restaurant with Beth while both ladies were in college. She met her future husband Alex one night when he came into the restaurant. He was a successful consultant who travelled all over the world, helping investment groups and individual chefs open restaurants. He has a culinary degree and has cooked in famous restaurants, so he knows his stuff.  He is older than Tilly. (I still have not decided how much older; it is not really a burning question right now.)

Tilly graduated from college not long after they met. They fell hard for each other and married six months after they met. She became pregnant with the twins right away. She managed to squeeze in a year of teaching before she left to care for the kids.

Her dream was to be a school teacher like her mother. Alex supported her dream and encouraged her to attend college when the kids were old enough. She earned her master’s degree and had hoped to teach at the same school her children attended.

While Alex was supportive of Tilly’s desire to teach, he was not the greatest husband. As a consultant, his job was not based in one location. He frequently travelled, leaving Tilly alone to raise the children. He once confided to Tilly that having children so late in life was not his plan. Now, he must work harder as a result. The kids would “cost a lot of money” that he originally planned to save for retirement. You can imagine how devastating that statement was. It put a great deal of strain on their marriage.

With Alex constantly away, Tilly felt like a single parent. She longed for a partner. More importantly, she wanted her children to know their father. He was seldom home, only spending a few days there before popping off for another job. It was not the life she wanted.

About a year before “the event” happened, Tilly threatened divorce. Alex finally listened. They opened a small restaurant so he could be in the same city. His hours were long there. Still, he came home every night and was there the next morning to take the kids to school. It was a start.

Alex and Tilly were also in couples’ therapy. The age difference and absence took its toll. Tilly was not sure if the damage could be repaired.

Tilly has a clear idea of what she needs in a relationship. She wants an equal partner in a marriage. She wants love. She wants respect. She wants trust. Benjamin will have quite the challenge providing all of that! 

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Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 1

Through the Mist: Restoration is really Tilly’s story. I will try not to give away too much in this post, because some people are either reading the book now or have not discovered it yet.

Tilly Munro is a strong woman. She was a babysitter before she was old enough to legally work a “real job.” When she was of age, she worked part time throughout high school. Once she entered college, she worked as a waitress. That’s where she met her best friend Beth.

Her entire life has been work, work, work. Her background was humble. Her mother was a school teacher, a job that sadly does not pay well. Her father made furniture at a factory until it closed. He was unable to find work after the factory closure. Money was always tight. If Tilly wanted anything, she had to work for it. This included her college education.

I modeled Tilly after the amazing women of the area in which I live. I have personally known some of them and read about others. The people who settled here in the 1700s were resilient. It was not an easy place to live. That same courage and determination runs deep in the DNA of their descendants. I wanted to capture that spirit in Tilly. She experiences a life-altering event, yet, in her mind, she must pick herself up and move on. She cannot conceive of any other choice.

When we begin her story, it is one year after this event. She has taken the first steps toward creating a new life. She wants to turn the page, so to speak, and start living again. Her life has been on “pause.” She agrees to take a road trip through Scotland with Beth. She feels it will be a nice way to start the next chapter. She never imagined the changes that await her.

I confess that I debated if one year was enough time. In the original draft, I described life days after it happened. Tilly and Beth began their adventure a few months later. I changed it because that timeframe was way too soon. Also, the chapters were so depressing. I wanted the story to be uplifting but doubted anyone could stick around long enough to get to the juicy bits. After all, this was supposed to be a “fun” story. There is nothing “fun” about the weeks following what happened to Tilly. To pretend that there is would do a great disservice to anyone who has gone through this event.

So, is one year long enough to wait? As I examined her character, I felt it was. Tilly would allow herself to grieve but would not be consumed by it. In her life, she never had the ability to sit still. She must keep moving.

I view this book as a story of hope and strength. Let’s not forget that Benjamin too has his own tragedy. Both characters could choose to be bitter, and no one would blame them. Instead, they decide move forward. They decide to be brave and choose love.

 

Next week, I will continue the discussion about Tilly. I want to discuss the state of her marriage to Alex. I hint about it in the book but do not go into a great deal of detail. Knowing a bit more about her past experience with love will be interesting – or at least I believe it is!

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Benjamin Campbell: Character Insight

When I began writing Through the Mist: Restoration, I wanted the story to have a different spin than the usual time travel novel. (No offense to that type of book.) I wanted my story to be different.

Typically, the male protagonist is a dashing laird who fought for the Jacobite cause. He is a fine Scottish hero, more fantasy than reality. The heroine resists his charms but eventually succumbs to his strong...ahem...personality.

Yeah….no.

For starters, my book is set in 1801. The Jacobite rebellion had long passed, and the title of “laird” would not have been used. The clan system was essentially destroyed after the ’45 Rising. Times were very, very different.

Then, I wanted the character to be a Campbell. That particular clan is quite notorious. In the infamous ’45, they sided with the British and fought at Culloden. To borrow from Outlander, the Campbells would have tried to kill our beloved Jamie. So, how do you craft a hero from someone who did not come from the traditional Scottish hero’s ancestry?

I decided that Benjamin should be the second son. In my research, I discovered that the first son inherited everything. Any progeny that followed would have been left to his/her own devices. In the book, Benjamin alludes to his original plan to become a soldier, a common profession for second sons.

His father Malcolm is a ruthless man. He pinned all his hopes on the first son, Allan, so Benjamin grew up with the MacIvers. Robert MacIver is the Campbell estate’s factor; his son Iain is Benjamin’s best friend and will one day become the estate’s factor, just like his dad.

Benjamin spent more time among “the common folk,” as his father would have called them, and did not have any pretensions about his stature in the family. When he is finally thrust into a powerful role, he feels compassion for and camaraderie with people who attempt to scrape out a meager existence. He does not have his father’s greedy ways. As a man who had a simple upbringing, he can feel shame and remorse for the actions of his grandfather and father. He too has own sins. (In a very moving scene, he reveals them to Tilly.)

His humility serves him well when he interacts with Tilly. As someone with a dark past, he does not judge her as harshly as others might. He does not have the formality that one would expect from men in that time. To put it simply, he was not “raised that way.”

He also does not take the traditional role of protector. In many books, the hero rushes in at the critical moment and saves the damsel in distress. That does not happen in my book. Tilly is a strong woman. She takes action; she is the hero.

In the next book, we will continue to explore Benjamin’s character. We already know that a lot of tension exists between Benjamin and his father. What will Malcolm think when he learns that Benjamin has settled his affections on someone who may not be “the best prospect” for a marriage? What could the man really do? And, most importantly, why doesn’t Benjamin tell him to go to hell? Come on, dude – you love Tilly. Stand up for her!

As you can see, I spent a lot of time crafting the story behind this character. I needed all of this detail in order to understand his motivations and actions. If you have any questions about Benjamin or any other characters/scenes/et cetera, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

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