Four years after publication, Daughter of Destiny just keeps going strong! My baby, my debut, has made the Top 75 of the 2020 Launchpad Manuscript Competition. I am so happy right now I could cry.
This is a contest to find the books that will make great movies. They have some pretty heavy-hitting partners in Romark Entertainment (producers), Energy Entertainment (literary management and production) and Inkshares (publisher).
The next two months will be filled with additional announcements as they make their way down to the final winner. (Top 50 is June 4.) Cross your fingers that someone sees the potential in DoD to become the next Game of Thrones!
I am so proud to announce that Daughter of Destinyhas made the Top 100 of the 2020 Launchpad Manuscript Competition. This is a contest to find the books that will make great movies. They have some pretty heavy-hitting partners in Romark Entertainment (producers), Energy Entertainment (literary management and production) and Inkshares (publisher).
The next two months will be filled with additional announcements as they make their way down to the final winner. (Top 75 is May 21.) But it sounds like all of the Top 100 will be presented before their Hollywood partners, so cross your fingers that someone sees the potential in DoD to become the next Game of Thrones!
And I realize it has been forever since I’ve blogged. My day job went went crazy when COVID-19 happened. (I’ll post about that some other time.) Outside of that, I’ve been working in the Minor biography. I’m about halfway done!
Remember how Madame Presidentess was optioned for TV/film about a year ago? Well, that didn’t work out and I have the rights back again so Taleflick and I are working hard to get more producers interested. And you can help!
Madame Presidentess is part of a special TaleFlick Discovery contest celebrating International Women’s Day. That means it gets an extra chance to be made into a film or TV show. But only if you vote!
To vote, once you click the button above, find my book and click the Vote button that looks like an up arrow on the right.
Opens: Wed, March 11 at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT/10 a.m. PT
Ends: Fri. March 13 at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT/4 p.m. PT
Officially, you can only vote once. But you can always try again on a different device…Not that I’m advising you to or anything.
If you get a message that you’ve already voted, it means someone on the same IP address has already voted. This happens in workplaces a lot. You will need to vote from home if that occurs. If you’re still getting that message, please don’t give up! Contact Taleflick support ASAP.
Winning books need thousands of votes, so please share with all your friends. Here are some graphics you can use.
(While I’m busy working on two books I’m finding it difficult to find time to blog, so I’m going to repost some of my favorite posts from Spellbound Scribes, the group blog I contribute to once a month. Warning: I am SUPER opinionated. This one was written less than a week ago.)
For years now, nay decades, historians and historical fiction authors have had a tenuous relationship. Well, from my perspective, it’s the historians who have their noses out of joint; most historical fiction authors, myself included, just want to write our books.
You see, some (not all, mind you) historians see us fiction writers as encroaching on their territory and doing it a disservice. I think with the word “fiction” in our genre and “a novel” written on most of our book covers, that is just silliness. I also think the reader has to take some responsibility for understanding the difference, but perhaps I am giving people too much credit. Tudor historian John Guy found that after Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series was published many of his current and prospective students took what they read as fact. His complaint? “The writing was so good that some people think it is true.”*
Because we are writing a (hopefully entertaining) story in addition to providing historical facts, historical novelists sometimes have to or choose to bend those facts or go outside of the historical record. One thing many of us do to make up for this is include an Author’s Note at the end of our books. In this section, which for some is only a few paragraphs, but for others can be quite lengthy and detailed, *cough*me*cough,* we explain what is true and what is not and why we changed things when we did. Other authors provide additional historical information on their websites or in their blogs. Some even include a bibliography or a brief list of sources at the back.
Ironically, it is Hilary Mantel herself, a historical fiction author who is NOT a historian, who rails loudest against this practice. She’s fine with including an Author’s Note (which she does in her own books), but draws the line at a bibliography. At the Oxford Literary Festival in 2017 she accused historical novelists of “try[ing] to burnish their credentials by affixing a bibliography.”**
[cue eye roll]
No, Dame Mantel, that is not what we are trying to do. We are trying to show that we’ve done our due diligence in making our books as historically accurate as we can. We’re trying to raise the respectability of our genre, which, not that long ago was conflated with period costume bodice-rippers that were rightfully called mere escapism. (Remind me to write a post on the history of historical fiction sometime.) But since that time, the genre has come a long way in building credibility with readers and critics and today’s authors are much more concerned with portraying time periods and places correctly, as our source lists show.
In addition, we’re providing a list of sources for those who wish to learn more or want to fact-check the book. As a reader, I LOVE the Author’s Note and am sorely disappointed if there isn’t one or little effort was put into it. As a writer, I have looked at the bibliographies of other historical fiction writers in my time period to get a sense if I am going in the right direction in my own research. These pages at the end of books serve very important purposes that cannot and should not be dismissed out of hand.
We are in no way pretending to be what we are not. Most historical novelists will freely admit to not having a PhD if that is the case. And there are a few who do have one (such as Alison Weir and Anne Fortier), so does that give them the right to include a bibliography in their books while the rest of us can’t? If that is the case, that is elitism, pure and simple. Many of us are self-taught researchers or may have been trained through courses of study besides history (English or law, perhaps) but that doesn’t mean our research is automatically of lower quality and undeserving of being documented.
It would be far worse if historical novelists a) didn’t bother to do proper research and/or b) left readers to their own devices to figure out what is true. Then you really would have historical confusion.
I could be completely wrong, but it feels like opinions like this stem from two things: an old-world us vs. them snobbery in which we novelists are seen as on a far lower plane than professors of history, and a feeling of being threatened because the average reader is more likely to read a historical fiction novel than an academic work of history.
As an author who has written both and plans to eventually get her PhD in history, I will say there is no reason for historians to feel threatened. They do what they do and we do what we do. Each has our own audience and when there is crossover, it benefits us both. But we cannot shoulder the responsibility for how our readers interpret our work alone. If they want to believe it is true all we can do is warn them it’s not and direct them to books by historians to find out what really happened–that is exactly what the bibliographies found in our books do!
I think the idea that historians somehow sit on a loftier pedestal than historical authors is a function of the insular nature of academia and will hopefully (eventually) burn itself out. It is this misguided attitude that makes it somehow okay for someone who started out as a historian to later go into historical fiction, but not for a historical novelist who lacks a PhD to ask to be taken seriously. Unless historical novelists start claiming that their books are the truth–rather than influenced by the truth–(as best that historians can interpret it; it can be argued that all of history is fiction as it is written by the victors and is often revised by memory, time and author prejudice) there is no need for us vs. them. We are both working toward the same purpose: educating a public that increasingly doesn’t give a fig about history. We just go about it in different ways.
And as for me, you can pry my bibliography (fiction or non-fiction) out of my cold, dead hands.
I sat in my favorite local coffee shop the other day and tried to do a little planning for 2020 and it only kind of worked. I mean, I have a list of goals and to-dos, but I don’t have a clear-cut plan like I have in previous years. At first, this worried me, like the driven part of me was broken, but then I realized, it’s okay. In 2020, I’m just going to go with the flow. Which is why I chose flow as my 2020 word of the year.
I’ve pushed myself so hard for the last six years or so in order to build a career. Now I am at a point where I can reap the benefits and take opportunities as they come. Yes, I’ll still make things happen when I need to, but I don’t know that I need to be as intentional about it.
Looking Back at 2019 Goals I did a fair amount of this in my post on nearly driving myself to burnout (which I am proud to say I am emerging from – I’m back to working on the Minor biography after a month of rest), but I wanted to specifically examine my goals for 2019. I’m shocked to see I did better than expected, especially for a year in which I didn’t publish anything.
Finish the proposal for, successfully pitch and sell a book I’m co-writing with another author. We did our best to pitch this book, but were unable to get a contract for it due to circumstances outside of our control.
Finish the proposal for, successfully pitch and sell another book on the suffrage movement (different angle from above) I’m working on. After the experience of the book mentioned above, I shelved this. But the good news is that I might be able to use it for my dissertation when I go back to school in a few years.
Write both of these books by their deadlines (I’m hoping both will be traditionally published by August 2020). N/A
Finish the biography I’m working on (not Rose, someone else) and sell it. I think I get half credit on this. Research took a lot longer than I expected because I found so much more material than I thought would be available. I have a proposal and sample chapter done and am still querying agents. I’m nearing a second finished chapter.
Attend three conferences and have successful speaking engagements at the ones I’m booked at. – Woot! Did this and it was FABULOUS!
Possibly work on either Isolde or the gothic fiction book I’m planning. I’ve thought about both, does that count?
Keep up to date on the progress of Madame Presidentess as it makes its way toward becoming a TV show or movie. – Yeah, this was a disappointment, but I knew going in that it was unlikely to happen. But there is still hope for the future!
Finish chapter for non-fiction Arthurian book (due March 2020).
Continue working with local League of Women Voters chapter on Centennial Committee.
Speak locally about the August 2020 centennial of women getting the right to vote.
Adjust to new role of assistant editor for Novelist’s Inc. member newsletter, NINK.
If we end up with a female presidential candidate, promote the heck out of Madame Presidentess. (This is no reflection on my personal political choices. I will, however, use it to my advantage if it becomes a reality.)
Side projects to be worked on when/if have the time: Hallmark book, devotional, musical based on Kill Hannah songs.
Option Madame Presidentess again as well as the Guinevere Trilogy. (I realize this is out of my control, but I can have it on here in an effort to think positively, right?)
So, yeah, I think that is plenty for one year, especially in addition to my more personal, non-writing goals. I’m excited to be headed into the ’20s. Let’s hope those flapper dresses make a comeback and that these ’20s don’t have the economic depression the 1920s did!
I made a big decision the other day. I’m not sure when or where – it will depend on finances and what life has in store – but I’m going back to school to get my PhD in American History and Women’s Studies. My specialty will be the U.S. women’s suffrage movement. This will help me gain credibility in the non-fiction publishing world, as well as hopefully improve my fiction writing as well. What will I do with the degree? I would love to be a research professor (assuming I need a full-time job that isn’t writing).
What about you? What are your goals? Do you have a word of the year for 2020?
I’ve been pushing myself really hard since 2016, the year I started publishing and somehow put out four books in seven months.
Each year I told myself I wouldn’t work so hard, but I kept on and sometimes added even more.
And now, almost four years later, my characters won’t talk to me. That’s a big problem because I can’t write without them.
So I think I may be reaching the burnout point. Luckily, I’m not fully there, but I think I’m getting close.
Looking back on my year, it’s not surprising:
Suffrage Movement Book:
Researched two sample chapters.
Wrote sample chapters (17,315 words)
Queried agents with co-author.
Virginia and Francis Minor biography:
Researched 105,557 words of notes.
Took research trip to University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Wrote proposal and sample chapter.
Project on hold.
Historical fiction book:
9,041 words of notes (not complete)
Project on hold due to project below.
Researched 21,634 words
Developed detailed 7 page outline, with becomes 40 pages with notes.
Did this in three weeks.
Wrote 6,218 words.
Now the book is refusing to cooperate.
Wrote a short story for an anthology – 10,000 words
Researching book chapter: The Ethics of Writing Guinevere for the Modern Age.
So far at 15,410 words of notes.
Have four articles and two books to go.
Wrote three articles for NINC newsletter.
Reported on 11 sessions from the NINC Conference.
That’s a total of 185,175 words written (not counting the articles and reporting), even if most were notes.
Attended four conferences, speaking at two.
Spoke at five other events.
Conducted a successful USA Today bestseller list campaign.
Read 86 books (not including research) to date. Will likely hit 100 by end of year.
Oh and I have a full-time job.
But yet I hesitate to let myself have a break.
I’m not sure I know how. I don’t know how to person without writering.
I worry someone else will get to this latest book before I do.
I feel like I always need to be doing something.
I worry that taking a break will harm my career.
Yet, I know I have to slow down/stop for a while. The only thing I can muster energy and interest in right now is playing Covet Fashion on my Kindle. That is not a good thing because it costs money, rather than making me money. And it takes up time I could be using for writing. But at least it is a creative outlet, I guess. (And I am a damn good stylist!)
I know how I got myself here; now I just have to figure out how to get out of it.
Hi. Wow. It’s been a minute since I posted anything here. Life has been crazy with research and work and well, life.
Late last month I had the wonderful fortune to attend my second Novelists Inc. Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. That is one of two conferences I will not miss (the other is Historical Novel Society, when it is stateside). The programming is smart and meant for writers where I am–not beginners, but not household names either–okay, most of us.
The two sessions (well, actually it was four because both were two-parters) that I liked the most were Growth Hack a Bestseller by Entangled Publisher Liz Pelletier and You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Story by Houston Howard. Both were applicable to traditionally published authors as well as indies. But the interesting thing to me, as an indie author, is that they seemed in some ways to offer conflicting advice.
Let me explain. What I heard overall on the traditional side (not just from Liz) is that you should keep writing the next book, with the focus on it becoming a bestseller, rather than worrying about the books you’ve already written. (Liz’s talk was about how you can plan your way to writing a bestselling book and it was really, really good.) But on the indie side, there was a clear focus on diversifying the books you already have to gain more readers. What they mean by this is expanding your story in new formats. This is directly from my conference notes:
Houston calls this multi-platform strategy your Superstory. It begins with thinking bigger than a novel. In Superstory, you extend your story into multiple platforms and surround your novel with other things that can help it compete.
Superstory is NOT:
Promotions or advertising.
Online tools like new media/digital.
Multimedia (franchising, merchandising, etc.) in which you are giving your audience the same content in a different format (i.e. the movie version, the comic book version, etc.)
Continuing your story over multiple platforms (a.k.a. transmedia).
Each new piece of content is a piece of a puzzle, something unique that is only explored there and leads to something else. It is all part of the same story, but the story is expanded in a coordinated way. (i.e. anthology of the backstory of minor characters in your book series.)
So it could be that the book tells the story, the movie continues the story, then spins off into a video game, and ends in comic book, so that they all work together to create a different experience for the fans.
Think about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It began as a movie, got much more back- and front-story as a TV show and then continued on past the finale in the comic book realm with new stories.
I LOVE this idea! But there’s only one problem: There’s only so much of me to go around, and both things take time and money, two things I have precious little of.
I am seriously so inspired by his ideas. (I bought Houston’s book but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.) Without giving too much away, I can see:
The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy
An anthology of stories of the other characters (Elaine, Corinnia and Leodgrance, Mona, Vivianne/Merlin/Nimue, Lancelot’s backstory, etc.)
Jewelry line (I’ve had this in mind since I started the series).
Some kind of a tie-in to the history of Avalon.
Instagram visual series from one of the characters.
Music. The voice of Guinevere. (A friend and I actually talked about this one time.)
Video game. I’ve wanted to do one for ages, but that is far down the list.
I have a bunch of other ideas written down (but not to hand) for what I would have put into a companion guide.
Been Searching for You
The two additional books in the series.
A comic book version (which I’ve been wanting to do for a year or two now anyway – yes there ARE romance graphic novels).
Annabeth’s Millie Mysteries books (assuming I can figure out a plot and how to write a mystery).
An old-time radio show version of the Millie Mysteries.
Instagram visual series from Annabeth, and one from Mia.
Annabeth’s dream wedding board on Pinterest (which kind of already exists, but it is hidden).
Alex’s Pinterest board (you know he has one since he uses it in the book).
A podcast around women’s suffrage.
I could do stories about the other characters, especially Tennie, but I’m not sure if I want to go there.
Something with Spiritualism. I just don’t know what yet.
Fun stuff, right? But it’s also a lot of work–time I could be using to write/research my next book. You can see where I’m torn.
It’s especially hard because I don’t write full-time. On top of this I have ideas for seriously about 50 OTHER stories I want to tell, each of which could get its own Superstory list.
I’m not sure what the answer will end up being. Probably a little of both.
As readers, what would you like to see from me, either on the list above or something else? Or do you think I should just move on to new stories? I’m really curious.