Connie Lapallo Photo Connie Lapallo Banner Main Panel
Connie Lapallo Home ButtonAbout Connie LapalloInspiration for the booksConnie's BooksConnie's speaking engagementsBook ClubsResourcesContact Connie Lapallo

Formal BiographyAnswers to your questions


Answering your Questions

How do you find time to write and homeschool four children?

How do you set your writing goals?Connie with Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky

Were you an English major?

How do you lay out such a big story?

How do you do your research?

How do you manage so much research?

How long have you been working on your Jamestown series?

Is your nationality completely English since you have Jamestown roots?

What does your husband do?

Do you have any hobbies

How do you find time to write and homeschool four children?
Sarah, Mike, Kerry and Adam when we were homeschooling
When I first began work on this series of novels, my children were eight, seven, three, and two, and I was homeschooling the two oldest. As time went on, I tried writing as they did their schoolwork. (That didn’t work.) I tried getting up at 6 a.m. to write before school (didn’t work). I tried writing at 9 p.m. (didn’t work), I tried early afternoon (didn’t work), and—my most extreme measure—I tried getting up at 3:45 in the morning to write.

I quickly learned that one should never attempt to do anything at an hour that has a three in it! About to give up, I realized that I hadn’t tried late afternoon. So I began to write at 4 p.m. after we had finished schoolwork, field trips, and homeschool co-ops. It worked! I was alert enough to get a few good hours in. My husband or oldest daughter would make dinner, and sometimes I worked through dinner. I would work as long as I could.

Were you an English major?

No, I actually have a degree in Finance (with an-almost French minor) from Virginia TThe Kids in 2011ech. I also have an MBA from the University of Georgia. I chose what I considered “practical” majors. However, my passions were always history, writing, and genealogy.

How do you do your research?

Originally, I researched solely through library records (particularly at the Library of Virginia and the Family History Center in Richmond) and using books. As the internet developed more, I found many things I needed online. I’m thrilled to be able to access ancient books online as well as archaeological photos, maps, and so much more.

How do you manage so much research?

At first, I optimistically created index cards for all the Jamestown leaders. At the library, I made copies of everything. I’d make printouts from the internet, and then I’d look with frustration at all the dusty paper and cards. I was never going to find anything that way!

So I created a new system. I created Word documents with a table and two columns. The left column was for my personal comments or headers. The main, middle column, was for the information I’d collected. I created a document for each subject. For example:

• MAPS – Jamestown
• PLANTS – Native
• PLANTS – Herbal remedies

At present, I’ve compiled 1,262 files of information on Jamestown, early Virginia, 17th century “physick” (medicine), Native Americans, maps, charts, leaders, pilgrimages, politics, the Reformation, foods, housing, archaeology, genealogy, language, ballads, the Church of England…. Well, you get the idea. I have to keep the topics organized to be able to find anything!

I also create PDFs of scholarly articles by topic and author as well as PDFs of Google books in the public domain, such as John Smith’s works.

How do you set your writing goals?

Because my writing involves so much research, I can’t completely set goals by word count. I try to do that, however, I find that one to two thousand words per day is a good goal. Sometimes research will sideline me for a week or two on a single subject. Seventeenth century midwifery and the arrival of the first slaves at Jamestown each required multiple weeks of research, for example.

For beginning writers, I suggest you pick a goal that you feel comfortable with, perhaps five hundred to a thousand words per day. Five hundred words sounds like a lot, but it’s roughly one 8 ½ x 11 page, single-spaced, in your word processor.

How do you plan such a big story?A draft of When the Moon Has No More Silver

I’m a fan of Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth as well as Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. Campbell detailed the elements of enduring stories and discovered they each have certain steps which the hero takes throughout the story. Vogler took these steps and helped writers incorporate them into their works. I always design my books with these twelve steps to make sure that my hero, in this case, Joan Peirce, takes a complete journey in each book.

How long have you been working on your Jamestown series?

I first found Cecily in January 1994. I spent four years thinking about the women and children of Jamestown—how we had forgotten them. It tore at my conscience. Shouldn’t someone do something? With four young children and homeschooling, I didn’t envision being able to do it.

At last, in the summer of 1998, I decided to collect research. In the summer of 2000, I had enough information that I felt a book on the women of Jamestown was plausible. In total, I spent eight years on
Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky (published in 2006) and five more years on When the Moon Has No More Silver (published in 2011)—thirteen years, with a third book partially completed.

What does your husband do?

He’s a geochemist by training, a computer repair guy by occupation. He owns a company where he works with both hardware and software issues. In a family of six, we alone keep him busy!

Is your nationality completely English since you have Jamestown roots?
Connie with Daddy
No, my father immigrated to the United States from Sicily when he was twenty-eight years old, so I’m half Sicilian. His family came from Agrigento, a Greek-Arab portion of Sicily and his surname, Maida, means table in Arabic. It’s also pronounced the Arabic way, MAH-i-da instead of the Italian way, Mai-EE-da. So we likely have ancient Arabic and Greek roots. Yet this same family has “eyes so blue you can see the Mediterranean in them” (as they used to say in Sicily), so we probably have Norman roots, too.
My father and I and two of my children inherited these Sicilian blue eyes.

My mother’s side is mostly English, but we also have German, Scotch- Irish, and Scottish roots. One grandfather, a German immigrant, came over to Pennsylvania in the 1760’s and then quickly moved to Virginia. Except for this one branch which stayed briefly in Pennsylvania, all of my mother’s ancestors came directly to Virginia and never left there.

Another grandfather, kilt and all, came over on a Scottish barge to fight those pesky revolting colonists during the American Revolution. The colonists captured his ship and held him prisoner in Winchester, Virginia, where he met and married my grandmother—and Virginia stayed his home.

Do you have any hobbies?

I was a kid with many hobbies. I wrote poetry from the age of seven onward. I entered history and writing contests, was editor of our high school newspaper, and wrote for the Richmond News Leader starting at the age of sixteen. I studied art for four years in middle and high school and won a ribbon orAdam reading Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky two. I was a stamp collector (daughter Kerry has inherited the collection), a coin collector (still sitting in boxes), and collected artifacts we’d find in our fields. These were mostly from the Civil War since we lived on a battlefield in Mechanicsville, Virginia. I liked to design my own cross stitch patterns and then make them. I enjoyed creating and researching my family tree, jigsaw and crossword puzzles, calligraphy, creating “custom” photo albums, riding my bike through the National Battlefield Parks near our home, journaling, and reading. We lived in the country, and it fell to me to entertain myself. Not a bad thing!

These days, my hobbies consist of spending time with my husband, children, mother, grandmother, and friends whenever I’m not researching, writing, or speaking about Jamestown or writing. I love to walk and still journal as much as I can.






Home About Connie Inspiration Books Speaking Book Clubs Resources Contact
Copyright 2011 Connie Lapallo