Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Next book - details and deadlines

The internet is a strange and wonderful place. It gives so much and it takes so much (time) away.

Every once in a while, when I fall into a hole online, something useful comes out of it.

This is the inspiration collage for my next book, tentatively called A Wider World. It's not a sequel to Songbird, but it does involve one of the secondary characters, Robin Lewis - a character I wasn't fond of at the time, but who reached out a few months ago to justify some of his behavior and tell me his story.

And it's a good one, so far. It's set over a much longer period than Songbird, so I'm researching fun things like the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Thomas Cromwell, Renaissance-era libraries, and the reigns of Edward VI, Jane Grey and Mary I (of which I know the basic facts, but not enough to hang a story from).

I'm giving myself a deadline of January 31, 2020 (my birthday) for a completed first draft. Which doesn't mean it will be published anytime soon, but after how long it took me to get my act together the first time, I'm pretty sure this will move much more quickly.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Book Reviews

Is anyone interested in an occasional (maybe twice monthly) book review? I've been reading a ton of good stuff lately that I'd like to share, and I'd also like to hear your feelings if you've either read these books or your recommendations to share.

Let me know!

(Most books would be historical fiction, but I've been known to dip a toe into fantasy, romance, contemporary fiction, and more non-fiction than I can probably list in tihs space.)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The more you know

Did you know there were black Tudors? Not the royal family, but people living in England during that period? 

I wasn't aware, and this video, from historian Miranda Kaufman, is very interesting. Some of what I learned here may be included in my next book, if the right character finds me.

I've seen black characters in some recent historical productions (The Spanish Princess comes to mind), but I think these have been taken a little far - while Katherine of Aragon may well have brought black servants with her from Spain, it's very unlikely that one would have been her lady-in-waiting. That wouldn't have been a race issue, but the fact that ladies-in-waiting were generally high-born young women, maneuvered into those positions by their families to get them close to power, powerful men, and advantageous marriages. 

On the other hand, as noted in this video, Henry VII (big Henry's dad) did have a black trumpeter named John Blanke, so while there weren't likely black courtiers, there were black people at court.

This is one of the things I love about history - you keep finding out new and interesting bits that you hadn't expected, and they keep leading you deeper and deeper.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Not all sewing, either

Around this time last year, a pre-Christmas ad came out featuring Elton John and some clips from the biopic. I watched it at the office (I was working hard) and aside from getting teary - it's one of those commercials - it struck me that I'd never seen Elton John live.

BTW, before you read further, watch the ad. It's worth it. I'll wait.

I'd come close to seeing him in concert with Billy Joel when they were touring together, but my boyfriend at the time (who had access to tickets to almost anything) passed them by because he didn't think I'd want to go. I did say 'boyfriend at the time', right? Yeah, that's the kind of thing you ASK about.

So I looked to see if/when Elton would be playing Philly, and it turned out the farewell tour wasn't coming until this November. In a leap of faith that we'd all still be here, I bought tickets 13 months in advance, and we went to the concert Friday night.

It was everything I'd hoped for, and more. Some artists can play live and sound like their records. Some, like when we went to the reunion concert for the Police a few years back, sound like 3 talented musicians on the same stage, playing the same music, but alone. (You could really tell they didn't want to be there).

Elton John's music doesn't sound the same live, because the man - and his band, many of whom have been with him for his 50 years of touring - have so damn much enthusiasm that they just take a song and run with it, adding a lot more instrumental bits and having, apparently, the time of their freaking lives. 

The show ran for a solid 3 hours, with only a 2 minute stage darkness (which still had audio and lights) while he changed his clothes from a fabulous beaded jacket to an equally-fabulous floral print with hot pink pants.

At the end, the stage went dark and the musicians disappeared, but they came back out for an encore, with Elton in yet another outfit (a long robe), that he took off at the very end to reveal a track suit, which he wore as he stepped into the backdrop and walked off down the Yellow Brick Road.

It was good. It was so good.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

It's not all writing

Just so everyone remembers I do stuff other than writing, a photo from this past Sunday's craft show. I had a serious book-release hangover, but I somehow managed to make it through and be pleasant to everyone and have a decent sales day besides.

I wanted to share the cutest customer of the day, who gravitated immediately to the doll whose hair matched her jacket. Her parents tried to convince her she wanted a doll who looked like her, but nope, lavender hair for the win.

When I made my schedule for fall/holiday shows, I actually managed to keep in mind the fact of the book coming out, and possible event scheduling there, so craft shows are pretty light...and I'm okay with that. My next one isn't until November 18, but then I have the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

I'm going to be thankful for Monday.

Monday, November 4, 2019

What a rush

So I did it. I survived reading my book live on Facebook. It still feels a little surreal - first the fact that on Saturday afternoon, while I was pacing the living room and muttering under my breath, the UPS guy bangs on the front door and throws a big box on the front step.

I run out, ready to yell at him because he's always delivering my neighbor's packages (she's also named Karen, and I guess it's just easier to deliver all mail to one address), but the box was from Ingram Spark, and contained 24 copies of my book.

Twenty-four. That needed to be spelled out.

Twenty-four books with my name on them. With my picture inside. With words from my mind written down on paper, words that make sense and tell a story and expose large pieces of my heart and mind that I've kept hidden for years.

If you want to read my book, you can find it here: books2read.com/tudorsongbird, which will get you to any online retailer that carries it. Songbird is available in ebook and paperback as of now, with an audio book to follow shortly. More about that later.

I know from Facebook and Twitter and other messages that I've received that some of you have already downloaded Songbird and have started reading. This is simultaneously thrilling, gratifying and terrifying.

For everyone who has already purchased, or who intends to, thank you. Your support really does mean the world, and if you watch the video to the end (yikes), I say that it takes a village these days to make a book. Thanks for being a part of mine.