Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Next Big Thing Challenge

The very cool Tara Chevrestt at Book Babe tagged me to answer some questions about my new title, The Burning Candle. You can check out Tara's interview here. Since I can't have all the fun, I'm tagging five other authors to answer the same questions at the end of this post.

What is the title of your book? 
The Burning Candle; my good friend Anita Davison at The Disorganised Author came up with the title. 

Where did the idea come from for your book?
I wanted to write a follow-up to my first title set in medieval England, On Falcon's Wings, and started researching the period in which the book ended. Originally, I envisioned writing about the daughter of my hero and heroine in that book, a woman torn between two lovers. Then, I discovered the real-life heroine of The Burning Candle, Isabel de Vermandois, faced the same dilemma. The outline of the initial story went into the PC's recycle bin and Isabel became the focus of two years of intensive research. 

What genre does your book fall under?
Biographical historical.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
When I'm writing, pictures of what I imagine the characters might look like are an inspiration. I never imagine actors or actresses in the role, but if I had to:

Eva Green would be the adult Isabel de Vermandois, with auburn hair and gray eyes to match. 

Vincent Cassel would be Isabel's jealous, controlling husband, Robert de Beaumont.

Henry Cavill would be Isabel's lover, William de Warenne.

Actually, that wasn't too hard to decide.  

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Isabel de Vermandois faces a difficult choice between duty to her husband and the desires of her heart. 

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency? 
It's self published. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The idea born in 2008 became fully fleshed out in 2009. I wrote steadily and submitted to critique groups. Then I lost the original files in a fire in 2010. Again, Anita Davison and our good friend Mirella Patzer at History and Women came to the rescue. They had saved some of the submitted chapters and helped salvage Isabel's story when I thought it was lost forever.     

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Tough one - I hate to compare my work to other writers. I've been told it's royalty fiction; does that help? ETA: Having nothing better to do (like revise the next in the Sultana series), I pasted a section of my text into - try it if you're bored. Apparently, this story is most comparable Alexandra Benedict's The Notorious Scoundrel (that sure sounds like William) or The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros. So, even if I think I don't wrote romance, I do? Hmm.  

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Isabel did. She lived at a remarkable time, where the Normans were altering England's history, government and language. Her husband was critical to these changes as was the king he served. Isabel's lover was the richest man of the period and he risked a great deal to be with her. I imagined life at the side of either of these men can't have been  easy for Isabel.  

What else about your book might peek the readers' interest?
If you want to be immersed in the medieval period, this might be the book for you. The nerd in me loves historical details because they lend authenticity to the story. My characters aren't modern-day figures in fancy dress - they lived, loved and died in tumultuous times. I hope my portrayal reflects the period and its personalities well.

Isabel begins life as someone in the control of others. She surrenders her will to the wishes of her parents and marries a significantly older husband. In the union and its numerous children, she did the duty expected of a medieval woman. With the introduction of her lover William, their relationship becomes a catalyst for Isabel’s growth and change. Her affair with William took some daring. I see it as a moment of decisive action. She went against convention, risking scandal and damnation in a world where people were obsessed with consequences for their immortal souls.  

The Burning Candle is available now on KindleSmashwords and Kobo; Nook and paperback versions are coming soon. Here's the blurb: 

Love is for women who have choices. She has none. 

In eleventh-century France on the eve of the First Crusade, Isabel de Vermandois becomes the wife of a man old enough to be her father. He is Robert de Beaumont, Comte de Meulan. A hero of the Norman victory at Hastings and loyal counselor to successive English kings, Robert is not all Isabel had expected. Cruel and kind by contrast, he draws her into the decadent court of King Henry I. As Robert's secrets are unraveled, Isabel finds her heart divided. Her duties as a wife and mother compel her, but an undeniable attraction to the young William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, tempts her. In a kingdom where love holds no sway over marital relations, Isabel must choose where her loyalties and her heart lie.

Based on the life of a remarkable medieval woman forgotten by time, The Burning Candle is a story of duty and honor, love and betrayal.

Now, to pick some victims friends to share their work. Alison DeLuca, Michelle Gregory, Christine Murray, Mirella Patzer, Kristen Wood: your turn, ladies.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"If you think the grass looks greener..."

"...On the other side, water your own lawn." I haven't been able to get this particular message out of my head since hearing it at my cousin's wedding in Wales at the end of August. It's so simple, yet the most profound of life's epiphanies usually are, and can make you wonder why you didn't recognize them as valid truths before.

Here's a little secret about me that will shock many of my dearest writing buds, whom I cheer on and congratulate at each triumph. The bitter truth is: I'm incredibly jealous of you. When you sell thousands of books each month, gain a legion of blog, Twitter and Facebook followers, and score tons of excellent reviews, there's just a little part of me that thinks, "Dammit! Why the hell can't I do what she / he can? No fair!" This doesn't mean I'm not genuinely happy for you - of course, I am. We wouldn't still be friends if I wasn't truly supportive of your hard-won efforts. Still, I'd be lying if I said those heartfelt congratulations aren't tinged with a bit of envy.

It's disappointing / comforting to know that my green-eyed monster is the same one that dwells inside others. Well, my monster might be a much smaller version of others out there. Hearing the words, "If you think the grass looks greener on the other side, water your own lawn," came on the heels of the recent "Locke bought reviews" and Ellory sock-puppetry scandals. No, I won't share my opinion or link to those topics here because quite enough has been said on the internet. Will say both revelations left me amazed at how far people will go to boost themselves, but the news also helped me gain perspective on the insecurities dwelling inside me, and apparently even best-selling authors.

Time for all us to water our own lawns and stop worrying about what others are doing with theirs.      

Time flies when you're having fun, or writing novels.

It's been a tremendous twelve months. A new job and health issues have impacted my writing time, but I'm still at it, trying to wrap...