Guest Post by Metaphysical Fantasy Author Florence Byham Weinberg

From early childhood I wanted to write, probably because both parents were teachers. My first poem was published in a children’s magazine when I was four shortly after I learned to read, and I wrote my first “novel” at about age six, illustrating it myself. The title, “Ywain, King of all Cats,” looks as if I might have intuited tales of King Arthur and his knight Gawain, but in reality, I created the name to imitate the cry of a cat.
I continued writing in one way or another during my school years and read voraciously. I wrote and published my doctoral dissertation, as The Wine and the Will: Rabelais’s Bacchic Christianity. Three more scholarly books followed, as well as many articles and book reviews. I retired in 1999, as soon as financially feasible, to practice what I had considered a lifelong vocation: writing fiction.
My daydreams about quick publication of fiction had already been darkened by the instant and repeated rejection of a novella I’d marketed in 1990 (the precursor of Anselm, a Metamorphosis). So, I was not at all surprised ten years later, when I had written Apache Lance, Franciscan Cross, about the founding of San Antonio, Texas, and sent the manuscript to a number of agents who rejected the book. Then, on an editor’s suggestion, I submitted it to a Texas university press. They got a negative report from a historian who claimed there was no stone quarrying or construction by San Antonio missionaries in 1731, therefore the book should be rejected for historical inaccuracy. It mattered not that I produced a copy of a letter dated that year by Fray Antonio Margil de Jesús, founder of San José Mission, stating that the nearby quarry was producing wonderful blocks of sandstone that he was using for construction. The book was still rejected “for historical inaccuracy.”

Undaunted, I wrote another book about the early Southwest called Sonora Wind, Ill Wind, a historical mystery. This, too, I sent out to agents. One day, I received a positive response from an agent in east Texas, who told me he could get it published immediately. I was thrilled. He indeed got it published, by a company called Publish America, a POD publisher. I was disappointed by the quality of the final product, but was still delighted to be published, at last! Disappointment followed. The local newspaper would have nothing to do with the book; a local bookstore specializing in mysteries told me, “We don’t stock that sort of stuff.” I began to realize that there are agents and then there are agents, publishers and then there are…. But before that lesson had thoroughly sunk in, PA had already published a prequel: I’ll Come to Thee by Moonlight, another historical mystery. I again found out that I must market my books from the tailgate of a pickup at flea markets if I wanted to sell to anyone other than friends and family.

Still undaunted, I wrote a sequel to the two mysteries, The Storks of La Caridad. By then, I had joined a literary critique group, Daedalus, and received excellent editing and advice from them. One member suggested that I contact Gerald W. Mills (google him!) who had done an editing job that had won her a literary award. I submitted Storks to him, and received close editing and teaching at the same time. He taught me what writing a novel really entails, rudiments like Point of View; showing, not telling, and much more. He met with a publisher to sell his own book, No Place for Gods, and he took Storks along. The publisher, Twilight Times Books, accepted and published both books. My fortunes changed. Modestly, but they changed. TTB also published Apache Lance and many more books since then. They have just brought out the latest novel, Anselm, a Metamorphosis, a metaphysical fantasy/suspense novel, which weaves an aura of black magic and nightmare that should fascinate all levels and ages of readers.

Here are tidbits of wisdom from my saga to date as a writer: learn your craft. Learn grammar, punctuation, and formatting. Build a wide vocabulary. Join a critique group. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Keep at it, but Do Your Research: to avoid agents who are unqualified; to avoid unscrupulous publishers. Don’t expect to make millions with your books. But perhaps you’ll be the one in ten million who’ll be noticed by one of the NYC “biggies” and will become a best-seller. I sincerely hope so, and wish you all the luck!

Purchase Florence's metaphysical fantasy, ANSELM, A METAMORPHOSIS

Born in the high desert country, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Florence loved exploring the wilderness on foot and horseback. Those grandiose landscapes formed her sensibility. Hidden pockets of unexpected greenery tucked away near springs in folds of barren mountainsides spoke to her of gentleness and beauty in an otherwise harsh world. She published her first poem in a children's magazine shortly after she learned to read at age four; wrote her first 'novel' at age six, entitled Ywain, King of All Cats. She illustrated the 'book' herself.
She traveled extensively with her military family during World War II. With her husband the brilliant scholar and teacher, Kurt Weinberg, she worked and traveled in Canada, Germany, France, and Spain. After earning her PhD, she taught for twenty-two years at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, and for ten at Trinity University in San Antonio. She published four scholarly books, many articles and book reviews, doing research in the U.S. and abroad. When, after retiring in 1999, she was freed from academia to devote herself to writing fiction, she produced ten novels, ranging from fantasy to historical romance and mystery. An avid researcher, she grounds most of her publications in historical fact. She spends hours combing through web sites, books and periodicals, and historical archives to enhance her writings with authenticity.
Eight of her ten books are now in print: an historical romance about the French Renaissance, published in France in French translation by Editions Lyonnaises d'Art et d'Histoire, and two straight historical novels, Apache Lance, Franciscan Cross and Seven Cities of Mud. In addition, four historical mysteries starring the 18th-century Jesuit missionary, Father Ignaz (Ygnacio) Pfefferkorn. Two of these are set in the Sonora Desert, the third in an ancient monastery in Spain, and the fourth, Unrest in Eden, follows Pfefferkorn's fate after his release from Spanish prison. Five of the historical novels have received a total of ten awards. Unrest in Eden is now published in German translation by Dr. Renate Scharffenberg under title Unruhe im Paradies.
The most recent book, Anselm, a Metamorphosis: metaphysical suspense, weaves an aura of black magic and nightmare that should fascinate all levels and ages of readers.
Florence also serves as Lector at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, as well as appearing as a guest lecturer to various groups throughout the country and abroad.
Her favorite animals are horses-an intense love affair over many years-and cats, her constant companions. She enjoys music, traveling, hiking, biking, gardening, and swimming.
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