“It is Unknown:” The Joys and Frustrations of Biography Writing

My monthly Spellbound Scribes post, this time on what I’ve learned by writing a biography.

Spellbound Scribes

Purchased from Adobe Stock.

As many of likely know by now, I’m up to my eyeballs in research for my first biography, which is on suffragist Virginia Minor and her husband, Francis. (This is actually the second biography I’ve started researching, but the other one is on the back burner at the moment for various reasons.)

I never thought I would write a biography. (Just like I never thought I’d write fiction, write non-fiction, or blog, but that is another story.) I didn’t think I was qualified. Hint: As long as you are willing to put in the work, there are no qualifications; while many professional biographers are historians or journalists, those are not the only paths. All you really need is the ability to write and a passion for research. Beyond that, there seems to be no one right way to go about it.

If I have learned…

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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!

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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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.

Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology

Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology

Wonder
This holiday season, twenty talented, award-winning, and bestselling authors have crafted never before released Yuletide-themed tales about their most beloved characters.

Magic
From murder to magic, love to loss, the past and the future, this multi-genre collection of poems and stories has something for everyone.

Charity
In the spirit of giving, the authors have generously opted to donate all profits to The LifeAfter—Visions of Hope Project, whose passion is to shatter the stigma and spread awareness to three taboo topics that underscore society today: Suicide, Substance Abuse, and Domestic Violence.

Nicole Evelina’s story:

A Vanderbilt Christmas 
A companion story to the award-winning novel Madame Presidentess.

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull made history by becoming the first woman to run for president of the United States. But four years earlier she was still struggling to overcome her shameful past and establish herself in New York’s high society. She has finally secured an entre into that glittering world by way of an invitation to Christmas Eve dinner at the home of railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. But when her uncouth family crashes the party and threatens to send her social status spiraling, it will take a Christmas miracle to recover her reputation and keep her dreams on track.

Buy now:

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https://books2read.com/TangledLights  (includes international links)

Add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads:

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Want a sneak peek into my brain for this story? Check out the Pinterest board I created while writing it.

Interview with Nicole Evelina About Her New Book “Mistress of Legend: Guinevere’s Tale, Book Three”

CHILDREN OF ARTHUR

I’m pleased to welcome back Nicole Evelina, author of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy. Nicole has been a guest here in the past when I interviewed her about her previous books in the series, Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen. Reviews of those books and my previous interviews with Nicole can all be found here at ChildrenofArthur.com. Before we get into today’s interview, here’s a little background information about Nicole.

Nicole Evelina, author of the Guinevere trilogy

Nicole Evelina has spent the last nineteen years researching the Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain, and the various peoples, cultures, and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome.

Nicole holds a BA in English and an MA in media communications. Her previous novels have won multiple awards, including two Book of the Year designations and the North Street Book Prize. Her non-Arthurian works include Madame Presidentess, a historical novel…

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Nicole Evelina’s Guinevere Trilogy Comes to Gripping and Gorgeous End

CHILDREN OF ARTHUR

If you only read one new Arthurian novel this year, make it Mistress of Legend by Nicole Evelina. Of course, since it’s the third in a trilogy, you may first want to read Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen. But what makes this novel stand out, besides Evelina’s wonderful writing abilities, is that it tells Guinevere’s story after the Battle of Camlann.

Mistress of Legend tells a new story of what happened to Guinevere after Arthur’s passing.

The novel opens right after Lancelot has rescued Guinevere from being burnt at the stake. Warning, there will be some spoiler alerts here, but I won’t give away the big stuff. Guinevere and Lancelot are pursued, and Guinevere is told she is pardoned and can return to Camelot. When she returns, she learns that Arthur had been poisoned so that he would not be in his right mind and aware of the…

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When Competition is Motivating

My monthly Spellbound Scribes Post.

PS – As an update – PS – One of my friends just found out her latest book made the WSJ bestseller list and she is also named as one of Amazon’s 100 Most Read Authors ever! There’s my motivation to get my butt in gear for that proposal!

Spellbound Scribes

I’m a very competitive person.

Shut up.

I’m beginning to realize that rather than discourage me, the success of others motivates me to work harder, to reach farther, to branch out into areas I otherwise would be afraid to go.

A few years ago, my fellow Scribe Emmie Mears had a run of great news in her career, securing four book deals in one summer for both fiction and non-fiction books. At the time, I was 1.5 years into being on submission for my first book, Daughter of Destiny, and I was starting to see cracks in my relationship with my agent. So while I was happy for Emmie, I was also feeling insecure, which led to me being VERY jealous.

Not long before Emmie’s announcement, my agent had told me the editor who had my book at the time was so certain we were going to get an…

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Guinevere’s Tale Book 1

Game of Thrones meets The Mists of Avalon. Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Signe Pike.

  • Chanticleer Reviews 2015 Book of the Year
  • Winner of the North Street Book Prize
  • Best New Voice, (Silver Award), IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards
  • Winner of the Missouri Author Project

Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

Fans of Arthurian legend and the Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.

Preview the book.

Purchase print and ebook:                       Audio book:

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In stores:

Bellingham, WA – Village Books and Paper Dreams

Los Angeles, CA – The Ripped Bodice

St. Louis, MO – The Novel Neighbor

St. Charles, MO – Main Street Books

Other Awards

  • Gold Medal – Midwest Book Awards
  • Gold Medal – Next Generation Indie Book Awards (fantasy)
  • Gold Medal – Readers Favorite Awards (fantasy)
  • First Place, Legacy/legend category – 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romantic Fiction
  • First Place, Fairytale/Folklore category, Colorado Independent Publisher’s Association (CIPA) EVVY Awards

Short list – 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction

Selected for Library Journal‘s curated SELF-e Select module

A 5-Star Review from Readers’ Favorites.

Praise

“A new twist on an old tale that gives agency, sympathy, and personality to a woman typically cast as a one-dimensional adulteress. Classic characters find their way into Guinevere’s orbit in unexpected ways, keeping the novel both familiar and fresh.” – Library Journal

“Evelina’s re-imaginings of this familiar material is unfailingly energetic and innovative, and her version of Guinevere herself is captivating virtually from the first page – no small feat in an overall plot with such well-defined parameters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to its sequel.” – Historical Novel Society

“Wonderfully gripping. A stunning first novel.” –  The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

“A lyrical, imagistic retelling of the Arthurian legend…The writer’s skill in creating a lushly imagistic fantasy world was a major reason for her first place award. Nicole Evelina has succeeded in creating a novel that is a pleasure for adults as well as teenagers to read. Although I am not normally a reader of fantasy fiction, I loved being immersed in the misty, magical land of Avalon.” – Ellen LaFleche for the North Street Book Prize committee

“If you are an enthusiast of Arthurian and Avalonia, then you will fall in love Guinevere’s story. You may already know it, but Nicole’s words put Camelot and its queen into a new and refreshing light. –SeriousReading (4.5 Star Review)

Daughter of Destiny is an entertaining and well-structured novel…The fate of Nicole Evelina’s Guinevere is worth tracing through the rest of the series.”  – IndieReader

“A gripping read that brings a wonderfully depicted Guinevere tumbling out of the shadows of myth.” – Anna Belfrage, author of The Graham Saga

“Written in lyrical prose and deposits you right in the middle of medieval times. The writing is fast paced, historically correct for the era, and a page turner. I sympathized with the character whom fictional history buffs branded a lustful harlot because of circumstances…Great twist at the end. Evelina’s 15 years of research are a powerful addition to a fantastic read. Can’t wait for Book Two. Prepare to embrace Guinevere. I feel privileged to have read this outstanding novel by a great writer.” – Sandra Masters for Readers’ Favorite

“Colorful and exciting…love all the characters. You will have a ball with this book.” – Serena Scott Thomas, actress and audio book narrator

“Nicole Evelina shows a deep and passionate love for the Arthurian world, and her re-weaving of the story of Guinevere and Arthur makes for enjoyable reading. With more volumes to come, if you like stories of Camelot, ancient priesthoods, magical Avalonian dreams and embattled romance, this is for you.” – John Matthews, author of ‘Arthur of Albion’ and ‘The Camelot Oracle’

This book is also listed on:

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Languages: Published in English worldwide. All other rights available.
Formats: 
ebook, paperback, audio
Publisher: Lawson Gartner publishing
ISBN: 

  • 978-0-9967631-0-3 (print)
  • 978-0-9967631-1-0 (ebook)
  • 978-0-9967631-2-7 (audio)