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Someone critiquing the first chapter of The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar said he avoids historical fiction because it is often about people leading “miserable lives.” And judging by his critique, I was proving him right.

Well, I, a 21st century, college educated, middle-class American would not want to live in 8th century Saxony (part of today’s Germany). I’ve come to like the scientific, political, economic, and technological advances that make my 21st century, middle-class lifestyle possible.

However, Acha, one of my protagonists, would argue with the critic. Before the war, she would say, she had a good life, despite the hardships of poverty, disease, and illiteracy. She had a hard-working, faithful husband who loved and respected her, two children to survive infancy, and a home with some livestock.

After the war is a different story. The family loses their husband/father, their home, their religion, even their freedom. Definitely misery, but if everything went well and the characters were perfectly happy, there would be no story.

The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar is about Acha and her children’s efforts to rebuild their lives from this devastation. Feel free to read the opening chapter. One request: Judge the quality of my characters’ lives by their standards, not ours.

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