New Project Reveal: Biography of Suffragist Virginia Minor

Virginia Minor

I’ve been kind of cagey about the biography I’m working on (not Rose Ferron, which is on the back burner at the moment, this is another one), but I’m getting close to finishing my research and submitting to agents, so I’m now comfortable with talking about it. I am working on a dual biography of husband-wife suffragist team, Virginia and Francis Minor. I happen to have a guest post today about Virginia over on author Suzanne Adair’s website, if you want to see a summary of her life.

I first heard about Virginia when I was researching Victoria Woodhull for my book Madame Presidentess. Virginia was a contemporary of Victoria’s. While we can’t prove that they knew one another, it is likely. Virginia was a big deal in the National Woman’s Suffrage Association and she is the one who originated the idea that the Fourteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, and idea Victoria used when she spoke before Congress. Even if Victoria didn’t personally know Virginia, she almost certainly had heard of her.

You know me and stories of forgotten women. There was something about Virginia that I was immediately attracted to. I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on what. But I knew I had to tell her story. This one didn’t strike me as right for historical fiction, though. I did some digging and found that no one has ever written a biography of her. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

The book started out just being about Virginia, but then I realized that her relationship with Francis was integral to her work and highly unusual. They lived a life of purposeful equality, beginning in the 1840s, way before that was common practice, so I knew I had to include him as well. They also both lived in my hometown of St. Louis for over 40 years, which is really helping with the research. We have some great archives here with very valuable information. Neither Francis or Virginia is well-known, and so not much about them still exists, but it is possible to find it if you look hard enough. I love the thrill of the chase in research, so I am having a ball. This June I will be visiting archives in Virginia, where they were both born, so hopefully that will shed light on their childhoods, which is really the missing piece at the moment.

I can’t wait to tell you more about them as the project progresses and to hopefully soon have a contract on the book.

P.S. – So far, I have not been able to track down a photo of Francis, which is why there isn’t one in this post. I have, however, held documents written in his own hand. It was so cool!

Two Books Advance to the Semifinals in the Cinematic Book Contest

So I thought Madame Presidentess was disqualified (because I sold the TV/movie rights), but both it and Daughter of Destiny have moved into the semifinal round of the Cinematic Book contest. *shrugs* Maybe it is just disqualified from winning; they are aware of rights situation.

Either way, I’m thrilled both books have advanced. Out of 1,200 original entries, we are down to 128 semi-finalists. Next up are the 10 finalists and the winner, which they say will be announced “within the next few weeks.” Keep crossing your fingers, toes, and eyes and sending good vibes this way!

Radio Interview About Madame Presidentess

If you didn’t get the chance to listen to my radio interview about Victoria Woodhull and Madame Presidentess the other day, you’re in luck! They gave me a copy of the recording. Just click on the image below to begin listening.

 

The Once and Future Queen is a Women’s Book Award Finalist

I think we are officially in awards season…

I just found out that The Once and Future Queen is one of two finalists for the Sarton Women’s Book Award in the non-fiction category. Here’s the full list. Winners will be announced in early April, so cross your fingers!

The awards are sponsored by the Story Circle Network, an international nonprofit community of women writers. The program is named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women’s literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet. The awards are given annually to women authors writing chiefly about women in memoir, biography and fiction published in the United States and Canada and selected from works submitted. The awards are limited to submissions published by small/independent publishers, university presses, and author-publishers (self-publishing authors). The judging is conducted in two rounds. Professional librarians not affiliated with SCN select the winner and finalists.

Adventures in Research

Spellbound Scribes

Yes, that title is a takeoff of the 1987 movie Adventures in Babysitting. I have totally just dated myself, but high five to anyone who has seen it.

Ahem. I’m currently working on several non-fiction book proposals (two books on women’s suffrage in the U.S. and a biography) and so I’ve been doing a lot of research. Today I thought I’d share some of the cooler experiences this has brought about.

One thing you need to know first is that one of my all-time favorite books is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It takes place in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the main character, Diana, is an academic researcher.

From the TV version of A Discovery of Witches, which premieres today in the U.S. This is Diana in the Bodleian (yes, it really looks like that). Note the clear plastic book cradle and the white cord-like…

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Two Books in the Quarterfinal Round of the Cinematic Book Contest!

One of these days I swear I will start doing informational blogging again…but today I have more news!

A few months ago (prior to Madame Presidentess being optioned), I entered a contest called the ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition, which looks for books that have potential to be adapted. Well, I just found out that both Madame Presidentess and Daughter of Destiny made it to the quarterfinal round! Out of 1,200 submissions, 423 books made it to this point. Here’s the list of quarterfinalists. I’m not sure when they will announce semifinalists, finalists, and winners (all they say is “soon,”) but I will let you know if either (or both) books make it!

UPDATE: I heard back from Screencraft and Madame Presidentess is disqualified from future rounds of judging because I sold the rights. Ah well, at least it made it this far!

Daughter of Destiny Named Best Indie Book in Missouri

I’ve known about this since December, but now I can finally talk about it! Just when I thought Daughter of Destiny had won all the contests it could… it won the Missouri Author Project for adult novels! As Library Journal states, “out of all of the submissions, these winning titles reflect the best indie and self-published eBooks each state has to offer in Adult and Young Adult Fiction.” This is huge because Library Journal is a very important publication in the publishing world, especially for libraries (hence the name). Its endorsements rank right up there with Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.

Here’s full list of winners from all eight states that held the contest in 2018. (Where there are two, like in Missouri, one is an adult book and one is YA.)There will be an article in Library Journal as well and I will post that when it is available. If you have a subscription, you might want to check in the January issue. I’m hearing that is where it is, but I don’t see it online yet.

Looking Back on 2018/Word of the Year and Goals for 2019

It’s that time again. The one day a year I look back on my goals and laugh. Here’s what I planned to do this year, with commentary on how it turned out:

  1. Get Mistress of Legend done and published. I accomplished this goal. It came out in September. I’m very happy with the way it turned out and it needed the extra time.
  2. Continue on the Rose Ferron biography, which I’m hoping to have done by late summer. I did get a fair amount of work done on this, but it got put on the back burner after that conference got canceled in June, which also canceled my archival trip. I’ll pick this back up again eventually, but I don’t know when.
  3. Research and start writing two WWII books that I’d like to get traditionally published. I tried to start on this after Mistress of Legend came out but my brain wasn’t having it. It wanted me to work on another project, which I’ve since made great strides on.
  4. Research the feminism book I’d love to have out by August 2019 (I doubt it will be ready by then). This project changed scope. It was originally the history of feminism in the U.S. book (which I do still want to do), but it morphed into a book on the suffrage movement that I’m still hoping to have out by August 2020 (the centennial of women getting the right to vote in the U.S.)

2019 Word of the Year and Goals
I was originally going to keep my word from last year (Leap), but I realized it doesn’t really fit anymore. It didn’t end up working out the way I thought it would, but it was still an appropriate word for 2018.

For 2019, I’ve chosen Prosper. I’ve had a heck of a 2018, especially toward the end, so I’m hoping this word will keep the good things coming and build on what 2018 started. I also think it is fitting because I’ve put in years of hard work (since 2008 with writing and since August 2015 with publishing) and it’s time to see them pay off.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I will take it easy in 2019. No-siree-bob. I don’t know how to take it easy. Writing-wise, this seems like it will be a non-fiction year for me, but you never know what may crop up.

  1. Finish the proposal for, successfully pitch and sell a book I’m co-writing with another author. This is the non-fiction on the suffrage movement I mentioned above.
  2. Finish the proposal for, successfully pitch and sell another book on the suffrage movement (different angle from above) I’m working on.
  3. Write both of these books by their deadlines (I’m hoping both will be traditionally published by August 2020).
  4. Finish the biography I’m working on (not Rose, someone else) and sell it.
  5. Attend three conferences and have successful speaking engagements at the ones I’m booked at.
  6. Possibly work on either Isolde or the gothic fiction book I’m planning.
  7. Keep up to date on the progress of Madame Presidentess as it makes its way toward becoming a TV show or movie.

I’ll release details on all the books mentioned above when I can. The two suffrage books and the biography will also help shape a book on St. Louis’ role in the suffrage movement that I have planned for the future. I may be suffraged and non-fictioned out by the end of 2019, but I LOVE research so this will be a fun year.

Christmas Traditions: Christmas Cards (1843)

The very first Christmas card. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is last in a series of 12 posts on historical Christmas traditions. The source is the Time magazine article linked below.

The Victoria Era saw many inventions, but for Christmas traditions, one of the most impactful was likely the Penny Post, which allowed people in England to send correspondence anywhere in the country for only a penny. This led to an influx of letter writing, and since social mores dictated that all mail must be answered, letter writing took up an increasing amount of time. Faced with a mountain of correspondence, a man named Henry Cole had an artist friend design a picture that could be printed on cardboard, quickly personalized, and sent through the mail. Within a few years, others were copying his idea, and by 1875, Christmas cards were being created in America as well. Check out this Time magazine article for more.

Do you still send Christmas cards? What’s the most memorable one you ever received?

I have to admit I don’t, not for years now. I do display a few cards each year. My favorite is one my parents gave me when I was maybe 10 that was “from” our dachshund, Gretchen. It has a picture if a dachshund in a Santa hat on the front and says “Merry Christmas from one of Santa’s little yelpers” on the inside. My dad put her paw print on it and signed her name.

This is my last post before Christmas, so Merry whatever you celebrate and if I don’t blog before then, Happy New Year, too!