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.

Classes
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.

Book Review: Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

save the dateIf you’re looking for a great end-of-summer read, I’ve got one for you. Mary Kay Andrews’ novel Save the Date is light, fun and downright infectious. (I LOVED this book!)

Florist Cara Kryzik is trying to keep her business afloat while recovering from a painful divorce and helping nervous brides have the most beautiful big day possible. She doesn’t believe in love anymore, but that doesn’t mean her clients shouldn’t have their happily ever after. While the bills and IOUs (especially to the bank of daddy) pile up, she finds out she’s got celebrity-grade competition for a wedding that could make or break her, on top of a complicated blooming romance with Jack Finnerty, a guy she met in soap-opera like circumstances. But when both of their exs return and the bride of the golden wedding goes missing, Kara realizes she may have to sacrifice everything she holds dear to pull things together.

Save the Date is definitely going on my Best Books of 2014 list. It doesn’t take long for the characters to feel like friends, or to become addicted to finding out what happens next. While some of the conflict is a bit contrived (but show me a love story that doesn’t have some of that), the relationship between the characters and the spot on southern wit make even those pages a pleasure to read. Plus, Andrews’ lush detail actually had me wishing I could open up my own little floral shop, and I don’t know the first thing about horticulture! It’s a fun world to get lost in, and that’s all I require of light women’s fiction.

I’m usually a historical fiction or fantasy reader, but I picked up this one (on audio) because I thought I’d read about it somewhere and my library had it available. I’m so glad I gave it a chance. In tone, it reminds me a lot of my own book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Neither book will change the world, but they are both happy, funny and charming. And sometimes, especially amid life’s craziness, that’s exactly what we need.

Does anyone have any recommendations similar to this book? I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the author’s books, but I’d love to find more authors like her. Please let me know your favorite light women’s fiction, chick-lit or romance (not too graphic, please) books below.

Confessions of an Audio Book Junkie

This was taken in my kitchen. Because you wanted to know that, right?

This was taken in my kitchen. Because you wanted to know that, right?

When I don’t have an audio book going, I get the shakes and my personality…well, it’s a little jumpy, too. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t listen to the radio in the car. I’d much rather have an audio book (always unabridged, please).

It all started nine years ago when I had a horrendous commute to work. It was (on a good day) about 40 minutes to an hour, almost all in stop and go, cut-you-off-constantly highway traffic. To ease the stress level, I started listening to Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who mystery series (thanks, dad!). Then I went all the way through the Harry Potter series (best narrator ever!). Since then, I’ve done the Hunger Games trilogy, The Chicagoland vampire series, Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments and many others that way. One of the best compliments I can give an audio book is when I can’t to get back in the car to hear more.

Needless to say, it saddens me to hear that some people still don’t consider audio books “real” books or a legitimate way of consuming literature. Why shouldn’t they be? For thousands of years, listening to storytellers, bards and minstrels was the only way to know a story. Comparatively speaking, this eyes-across-paper/screen concept of reading is relatively new. Heck, even in the early 1900s, a lot of people got their stories via radio. I think, as humans, we’re wired to want to hear stories. Think about when you were little. The first stories you encountered likely were read to you by your parents.

That’s not to say that reading doesn’t have merit or isn’t important. Of course it is. I still have at least six paper books going at once (fiction and non-fiction). But the truth is, I’ve found that audio books help me read twice as much at any given time. While I have the hard copy book for times like lunch or before bed, I’ll have another book in audio form for when I’m in the car, cooking, cleaning house, folding laundry or working out. I love that it gives me more time to read, as it were. In some cases, I think audio books even help me to appreciate the poetic quality of writing better than reading ever could (The Thirteenth Tale and The Shadow of the Wind come to mind for those).

The main downside of audio books for me is that it’s not easy to rewind or “flip back” to something if you need clarification or have forgotten who is who. That’s one reason why I’ve found non-fiction doesn’t work for me in that medium. I can only do fiction. That and having to remember which track I was on when I switch from the car to listening in my house is a pain (my car only takes CDs) The price can also be a deterrent, but the cost has decreased dramatically in the last few years. I get most of mine from the library anyway, so they’re free.

The biggest thing that makes or breaks an audio book for me is the narrator. At the time Twilight first came out, the audio book version was terrible. Seriously, the worst I’ve even encountered. Thank goodness I had already read the book (yes, I did that one in both versions – that’s how obsessed I once was), otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to tell who was speaking. The actress didn’t vary her voice for characters at all. I’m hoping with the success of the series, that they’ve re-recorded it. The best narrators I’ve encountered (besides Jim Dale, who did Harry Potter and is in a class by himself) are Jennifer Ikeda (A Discovery of Witches and its sequel) and Khristine Hvam (Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel). If the actor or actress can bring the characters to life and make you feel emotions with their voice, you’re in for one hell of a ride. (I envy people who can voice act.)

I’ve been wondering about the future of the audio book lately, especially with the popularity of e-readers (I don’t have one yet, but am slowly heading that way). Someone pointed out to me that audio books likely will continue to be produced, if for no other reason than to give the visually impaired an alternative to Braille. (I hadn’t thought of that. What a wonderful reason!)

As for whether it is “real” reading, that’s a debate that’s likely to continue for some time. I say, reading is wonderful, so do it in whatever form you can.

What about you? Do you listen to audio books? What are some of your favorites? Do you consider books you listen to really “read?” Why or why not? If you don’t listen to them, why not?