Daughter of Destiny Audio Book and Possible Foreign Translation

One of these days, I will get back to historical posts, I promise. But right now there’s so much exciting stuff going on that I feel like it’s more interesting to talk about that, especially as we’re getting closer and closer to January 1, when Daughter of Destiny comes out.

Serena Scott ThomasIf you follow me on social media, you may have already heard, but last week I signed a three book deal with Serena Scott Thomas through ACX to narrate and produce all the books in Guinevere’s Tale. I am super excited! Serena is a seasoned actress – you may have seen her in the Oscar-nominated movie Inherent Vice, in the Bond film The World is Not Enough, or on Nash Bridges, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Nip/Tuck, just to name a few.

But I didn’t know any of that (other than she’s an actress) when I auditioned Serena – I only knew her voice seemed just right for Guinevere. Let me tell you, she nailed her audition! We signed the contract and I have listened to the first 15 minutes of production (which is the first step in the approval process). I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect Guinevere! She is sooooo talented. I love how she manages to emphasize just the right words and give a special spark to even small, secondary characters.  Anyway, I’m sending a few notes back to her today, and then she will record the rest of the book, which I’ll get to hear around the first of December. That means the audio book will be ready to go on sale January 1 with the print and non-Kindle ebook formats! (Plus, Serena is super nice to work with!)

Foreign Rights
Amazon Crossing (the foreign translation division of Amazon’s publishing arm) has opened its submissions to indie authors. This is a major coup because foreign rights are one of the hardest for an indie author to sell. Yes, a lot of the world speaks English, but who wouldn’t want to read a book in their native language? (It’s got to be easier.) So, I submitted Daughter of Destiny today for consideration. I have no idea if they will accept it or not (partly because it hasn’t even been published in English yet, but then again, some traditionally published authors have gotten foreign deals before their US/UK versions came out). But I feel I made a compelling case as to why Arthurian legend is appealing to a worldwide audience (thank you Tyler T. for your post on King Arthur in Turkey, which helped me make my argument) and why this book in particular would do well around the world. I’m supposed to hear back in 5-8 weeks, so cross your fingers!

Cover Design
My cover artist, Jenny Q., begins work on the cover for Daughter of Destiny on Monday. Hopefully I’ll see something by the end of the month and you’ll see the official cover in early November.

Other Books
While all this is going on, I’ve been editing Camelot’s Queen, the second book in Guinevere’s Tale. It’s not due to my editor until the beginning of December, but I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, so it and Been Searching for You need to be pretty much ready to submit by the end of the October so I can make the December editing deadlines.

My NaNoNovel is going to be the other side of the coin to Guinevere’s story – it will tell Morgan’s story. Once you read the first two Guinevere books, you’ll see why that is important. Because my books are all first person POV, you only see Morgan through Guinevere’s judgmental filter. There is so much that you don’t see because Guinevere was either wrong (but sometimes she was right) or she wasn’t there and so didn’t know how certain things went down. I will release this one only after the last Guinevere book is out because it gives away the plot twists in the three Guinevere books. I would advise that you read it only after reading the Guinevere books for that reason, as well.

Why didn’t I choose to work on Guinevere Book 3 during NaNoWriMo? Well, for one, that one is mostly drafted and doesn’t have another 50,000 words in it (which is the goal of NaNoWriMo), and also Morgan is demanding I tell her story. Once I’ve got her story at least drafted, she’ll be quieter, which means I’ll only have Isolde and a historical woman fighting in my head over whose book is next. Plus, if I get the residency I applied for, I’ll be working on Guinevere 3 at Hedgebrook next year.

If all this wasn’t enough, I’m currently taking a Margie Lawson class on being an independent author. Next week, I am one of 8 authors who will pilot an online mystery writing course through Hedgebrook taught by legendary author Elizabeth George. (Fun fact: 5 out of 8 of the pilot authors were in my Hedgebrook class with Deborah Harkness!) “But, Nicole,” I hear you say, “you don’t write mysteries. Why are you taking this class?” Ah, good question. Besides the fact that it’s an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the best, there is a mystery in Isolde’s story, so I want to learn how to do it right.  And you know, I’m crazy and have to fill up my-non day job hours with as much as possible!

So, enough about me. What are all of you up to? Any thoughts/questions on the above? We’re getting closer and closer to publication, and 2016 has many exciting things in store, so I can’t wait to share it all with you. And thank you all again for all of your support!

Don’t forget to pre-order Daughter of Destiny on Kindle or mark it as want-to-read on Goodreads.

Not Giving Up, Just Giving In

20131109-113318.jpgI don’t quit projects easily, but not all novels work out. I’ve stopped writing Glastonbury, the book I began on November 1. After almost 20,000 words, I’ve realized I don’t have the passion for these characters, this story, that I do for my Guinevere books and some of the others I have planned. I’m forcing a story that is not ready to be told – or may not even be mine to tell – that’s why it’s not working.

I may pick it up again someday, who knows. The research and the writing, the time I’ve spent on the project will benefit me somehow, even if I can’t see it yet.

The good news is, I can still finish out NaNoWriMo with book 3 of Guinevere’s story. This afternoon I’m going to take a hard look at the plot and what needs to be done. Then, I’ll get back to writing it. Things happen for a reason, right?

PS – The title of this post comes from a song. Can you name the song and/or artist?

Creating the Mess, or the First 3 Days of #NaNoWriMo

This might just be my favorite picture ever.

This might just be my favorite picture ever.

“First I created the mess. Then I had to clean the mess up.” – Maryka Biaggio, author of Parlor Games

This morning I started listening the series of workshops from the Historical Novel Society’s 2013 conference that I purchased as audio files a few months back. That quote is one of the gems from the workshop about writing women in history. Ms. Biaggio was talking about her research process, but what she said can just as aptly be applied to the writing process.

It’s also pretty much how I feel about writing a first draft. You have to create the world, it’s characters, their conflicts and dialogue before you can polish it to make it something readable. I have told myself this over and over the last few days (well, actually the last few months, if you’ve been following my struggles with book 3 of Guinevere’s story).

So far NaNo has been bi-polar. We started out manic at over 5,000 words on the first day. Okay, chalk that up to the enthusiasm of a new book and the excitement all over the interwebs about NaNo. All I know is, by the end of day 1, it felt like I could write the whole novel in November. The book wanted out and it wanted out NOW!

Yesterday was still pretty productive, at nearly 2,500 words, some written in places as crazy as the hair salon, since it was a busy day. But for some reason, I hit a slump last night – like the “ready to chuck it all in the trash bin” kind. I started several scenes, only to leave them unfinished because I wasn’t sure how I’d use them in the end product. I broke the #1 rule of NaNoWriMo: don’t think, just write.

Today I decided to give my brain a break and do other things this morning like walking at the lake (yes, I’ve made my every other day exercise goal this week!) and just sitting and watching the leaves fall. It’s sad, but I can’t remember the last time I slowed down enough to do something like that.

Time came for one of our local write-ins. I went, full of enthusiasm and hope, but I couldn’t seem to get in the groove. I started and stopped a few scenes, but couldn’t block out the conversations around me and the truly terrible music piped in overhead, even with my iPod on loud. Finally, I gave up and went home.

Having only written something like 500 words, I felt like a failure. I even tweeted it. Then I drank half a bottle of wine and wallowed in self pity for a while. But then I saw a tweet by author Robin LaFevers (whose His Fair Assassin books I cannot recommend highly enough) saying she wrote 4,000 words today, a feat she rarely achieves. I congratulated her and she wrote back a very encouraging note. This inspired me to get off my duff and try again. Two hours later I had 1,400 more words, a few of which are the first truly beautiful lines I’ve written in this book. A few hours after that, I surpassed 10,000 total for the first three days.

(For those who haven’t realized it yet, I’m a wee bit competitive. I’m proud to report that as of the moment I hit publish on this, I was the second highest in word count in my region. Yes, I’m bragging. Ahem.)

I still have no idea how this mess of scenes is going to weave itself into a book, but you know what? I’ve gotten better about not worrying about that (note I didn’t say I’ve stopped worrying about it; I’m a work in progress). It always works out after a few weeks/months of editing. (This is my fourth book; you would think I’d know that by now, but apparently I don’t.) What matters right now is getting the words down, telling the story to myself, as it were.  I’m going to need all of you to remind me of this many times over the next month.

So, it was touch and go for a while, but Glastonbury lives. And it seems to have all of its fingers and toes and is starting to emit a healthy wail, now that I’ve stopped trying to control it. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself hoping for four 5,000+ word days in a row (wanted to pad my word count for week nights when the brain will be too fried to write) and when that didn’t happen according to plan, I got in my own way. Now my goal is back to what it should be. Reach 50,000 words this month with the best writing I can (anything above that is gravy) and fix it when I edit in January. I’m the only one expecting any more than that from me. 

Have you ever faced a similar struggle where you set yourself up for a fall? How did you resolve it? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo orROW80? How’s it going for you?

Countdown to #NaNoWriMo

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverLess than two weeks to go before NaNoWriNo (or National Novel Writing Month for those who don’t speak writer). That means that all across the world throughout the month of November, thousands of writers will be attempting to write 50,000 words in a month. Insane, you say? Yes. But it is possible. I speak from experience.

Last year was my first NaNoWriMo and I won (meaning, I wrote 50,000+ words in November). It was a crazy, sometimes stressful experience, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It got me into the habit of writing nearly every day, which I didn’t think I could do before that. I also met so many wonderful people, both in person locally and online, many of whom I’ve kept in contact with online.

Out of all of Camelot’s Queen (also known as book 2), the part I wrote during NaNo is the part I ended up changing the least. Maybe I was just lucky that I had a really good idea of what was going to happen in that section, but I think a lot of the quality was due to the need to get out of my own way and just write. During NaNo, there isn’t time for a lot of second guessing. And most of the time, your first instinct is right. But I also had the advantage of having a chunk of the book already written (that didn’t count toward the 50,000 words), so I wasn’t starting from scratch.

This Year’s Book
This year is a whole different story (literally). I’ll be writing a Tudor-era historical fiction (code name: Glastonbury – it doesn’t have a real title yet) that came to me in June while I was in England researching book 3 of the Guinevere trilogy. It’s the story of two people, Isabella and Stephen, whose lives are intertwined with one another and the dissolution of Glastonbury Abbey. It’s part local legend (I don’t want to give that part away yet..let’s just say it has to do with the George and Pilgrim Inn), part love story, part recounting of the Abbey’s final months. I have always been fascinated with the dissolution of the monasteries (even before Nancy Bilyeau’s books) and when I stood in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, I knew I wanted to try to imagine what it would have been like in its heyday and what brought about its tragic end. The fact that local legend ties in with a bit of romance just sweetens the plot.

If you want to get an idea of what’s going on in my head and what I’ll be writing about for the next two months (hoping to have a draft done by year-end), take a look at the book’s Pinterest board. If music is more your thing, here’s the beginning of the playlist:

  • Lana Del Ray, “Born to Die” (Isabella and Stephen’s theme)
  • Lana Del Ray, “Off to the Races”
  • Brunuhville, The Eternal Forest (I’ll be using this whole album and all of his music as my main writing music.) 

Want to keep score at home? There’s a handy little word count tracker in the menu at the right that will update automatically as I log my words. And if you’re following my ROW80 posts on Wednesdays and Sundays, you’ll find out more there.

(And don’t worry about Guinevere. I’ll be getting back to book 3 as soon as I can. She and I just need a little distance. 14 years is a long time to put up with someone and that’s how long she and I have been telling her story.)

NaNoWriMo Resources
In case you want to join in on the insanity, here are some resources that helped me in planning my book. (And no, it’s not to late to join. I know people who have started in mid-November and still managed to win.) 

Good luck to all my fellow NaNo-ers out there! Come find me on the NaNo site and mark me as your writing buddy.

Do you have questions about NaNo? Are you participating? Let me know your user name and I’ll add you as a writing buddy. What do you think about NaNo? I was a huge skeptic before I did it.

Lessons Learned from National Novel Writing Month

50,000 words in 24 days. It can be done! Yes, I’m bragging – just give me a moment to pull myself together. *Ahem*

I’m not going to lie, winning National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is HARD! A lot of things have had to go by the wayside (exercise, cooking, house cleaning, social life – oh who am I kidding? I never had a social life.) So I’m looking forward to poking my head out of the writing cave and rejoining the world. Well, at least partly. I’m still hoping to have a draft of Book 2 finished by the end of the year.

But I digress. The real reason for this post is that you can’t go through something like this without learning a thing or two. Here are a few unexpected things that NaNoWriMo taught me:

  1. Making writing a priority = more time for writing. During the month of November, my work days went something like this: wake up, eat, go to work (where I write, but it doesn’t count for this), write on lunch break, come home, eat, write for two hours, take a shower, sleep. Repeat. Weekends were simpler: wake up, eat, write, maybe eat again, fall asleep on keyboard. I was exhausted most of the time, but it worked. Those two hours at night usually equalled about 1,50o words and most weekends my word count was around 2,00o-4,000. Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I’m going to try to find a way to write a few nights a week – just not at the breakneck pace I’ve been going at.
  2. There are only so many hours in the day. This is the flip side of #1. When you’re spending all your time working and writing, there’s not much room for much else. In September and October, I trained for my first 5K. In the course of November, I think I’ve lost all the muscle tone I built up (literally no exercising and lots of sitting) and probably gained 10 pounds (eating out and frozen food saves time over cooking). That and my house should probably be cited by the health department (okay, not really, but I’m OCD, so it feels that way). They should call December National Catch Up on Life Month.
  3. Learning to turn off your inner editor is very liberating. I tend to be a perfectionist writer (yes, I hear your sarcastic gasps from here), so the idea of just writing and not going back and revising scared the crap out of me when I first started this. But over time, I’ve grown to love it. Using whatever word comes to mind and moving on is a great way to keep the excitement going (yours and your plot) and it frees you from obsessing over a single word, phrase, or name. That is what editing is for. And that comes after writing. “Just get the idea down and keep going” has become my new mantra. (Remind me how much I liked this approach when I get to the editing phase and wonder “what the heck was I thinking?”) But once you have a full draft MS, it’s much easier to see where you need to edit or cut, versus trying to do it blind with half the book unwritten (trust me, I’ve done it both ways).
  4. The support of a writing community makes a world of difference. I have made more friends during this month than I usually do in a year. Thankfully, most of them are local, so I’m hoping to get together with them throughout the year. The write-ins were a blast (where else do you end up quoting The Princess Bride and Spaceballs with no alcohol involved?) and I’ve never experienced anything like the intensity of a room of writers during a word war. But I’ve also met some amazing people online (thank you, Twitter!) Lizze Vance and I even got into a NaNoChallenge to see if we could finish by a certain date and time (we did!). I’m hoping all of my new online friends with be ongoing support, too. After all, the writing doesn’t end December 1.

I think that about sums up my first NaNoWriMo experience. It was wonderful and I will happily do it again if the stars align and I have a plot ready to write on next November (it very well could be how I finish book 3). To all the other NaNo-ers out there, congratulations for making it. To everyone else, if you’ve ever thought about writing, this is a fun way to try it out.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? What was your experience like? What did you learn? If not, would you want to be part of a program like this?

National Novel Writing Month – Who’s With Me?

Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? Seriously, it is. National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) is a movement of writers in which participants aim to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. Some writers use this time to begin new works, some aim to write an entire novel in that time, while others use the motivation to finish works in progress. And yes, for the first time, I’m one of them.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo a few years ago and thought it was crazy. Why would you want to try to write an entire novel in a month? What kind of quality could you possibly get out of that? In some cases, it’s gotten a bad rap because of writers who think they’re done after that month, who submit to agents or self-publish without going through the rigorous editing process that turns an average novel into something truly great.

But what I didn’t realize then is that it’s more about the discipline, motivation and the support from your local writing community than it is the word count (in my opinion). I had no idea there were local events and that other writers would be there to encourage me along the way. But so far, so good. Here’s how my NaNoWriMo activities are shaping up:

  • Last Sunday, I attended my local pre-kick off party and met writers who are just starting out, as well as those who have been hammering away at novels for a long time – writers from every genre, including erotica, sci-fi, horror and fantasy.
  • Tomorrow, I’m going to a workshop on Scrivner software.
  • Starting on November 3, I’m going to structured writing events at local coffee shops every Saturday and Sunday. All I know about these is that you write for several hours straight, surrounded by your fellow novelists.
  • On November 17 comes the big “write in,” a seven hour writing marathon at a local library that I’m told is much like lock-ins in high school. You can’t leave, but with that much creativity swirling around, who’d want to?
  • In between, I’ll be writing on my own time, but I doubt I’ll get much done at night during the week. My goal is maybe 500 words per night a few times during the week. (I write all day for my job and when I get home, my brain declares a strike.)
  • In December, after it’s all over, we’re having a party to celebrate everything we’ve collectively achieved.

My goal isn’t as much about the word count (although I love the idea of winning), as it is trying my hardest. My dream is to finish the first draft of Book 2, which means about another 80,o00 words. But as I’ve been outlining my next several sections, the story is getting more and more complex, so I’ll be happy with however much I get done. I’m really looking forward to the extra motivation and having somewhere outside of home means I might actually do it, rather than deciding the laundry or dishes need to get done first. If you want to follow my progress, there’s a little counter on the right navigation that will start counting my words on November 1 and update as I include them in the NaNoWriMo system.

If you’d like to play along, please sign up. You don’t have to “win” (reach 50,000 words) to be successful. Personally, I’m proud of anyone with the guts to try.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, what are your tips for success? If not, what do you think about the idea?