Please Vote for Jane the Quene!

I am thrilled to announce that Jane the Quene is one of 13 finalists (out of more than 700 submissions) in the 2017 Novel of the Year contest being run by Underground Book Reviews. There is an Editors’ Choice award and a Readers’ Choice award…I can’t do anything about the Editors’ Choice, but your help can make all the difference with the Readers’ Choice!

Have you read Jane the Quene? Did you love it? Then will you vote for it? I promise it will take only a few seconds…Click here to be taken to the Facebook Poll!

In the self-publishing world, winning something like this can really help people discover the book. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Have you not read it? You still have the chance…and voting is open through January 31! Choose from ebook and paperback on Amazon.Com (here are some easy links to  Amazon.Com, Amazon.Co.UK and Amazon.Com.Au)!

 

Accuracy or Impact? A Philosophical Question for Tudor Lovers

Quote from Thomas Cranmer that captures the theme of this post (via azquotes.com – great site for stuff like this)

My tagline says that I deliver true takes on the Tudors and what it’s like to write about them. This is a “what it’s like to write about them” moment.

I am in the middle (two thirds to be exact…) of the first draft of The Path to Somerset, the story of Edward Seymour’s rise to power after Jane’s death – how he navigates Henry’s crazy years. The book uses two points of view – Edward’s and Stephen Gardiner’s. I originally wrote the scene where Henry learns that Catherine Howard has betrayed him – a really powerful moment – staying true to history: after Cranmer leaves the letter on Henry’s chair in the Chapel Royal on All Souls’ Day (click through here if you want the fuller story), Henry speaks about it to Cranmer alone.

My critique group insisted that it would be so much more powerful if readers could be in the room when Henry is confronted with these facts – they wanted to watch him pooh pooh the idea that his wife could have lived a dissolute life before marrying him (remember, one of his arguments to repudiate Anne of Cleves was that he could “feel by her breasts that she be no virgin” – that story here if you want it). And they were totally right. I’ve rewritten the scene so that Edward goes along (it works given the relationship I’ve given him with Cranmer and with Henry) and now it really pops. Especially the moment where Henry concedes that he won’t see Catherine until all the charges are proven false….It’s the right way to go.

But it’s historically wrong.

Now, I have to admit, I have manipulated full accuracy in the past: I placed Elizabeth Seymour at court when she wasn’t because I needed Jane to get out of her own head. So it is somewhat hypocritical to get careful about this now – though this feels different because it is an iconic moment. But it is different? If I explain the choice in an author’s note (something I forgot to do for Jane the Quene, so very sorry), does that fix it? I would love to hear from my readers, leave a comment and start the conversation!

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If you like my posts, you’ll love my book! Jane the Quene is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon.Com (here are some easy links to  Amazon.Com, Amazon.Co.UK and Amazon.Com.Au)!

Giveaway! Jane the Quene, by Janet Wertman

 

Jane the Quene eBook Cover Large

My birthday is coming up, and I can think of no better way to celebrate than to give away a copy of Jane the QueneIt seems wrong to create a blog post for this – but I have not yet created a mailing list and my blog subscribers deserve to hear about it first (followed quickly by Facebook fans and then everyone else…)! Next time, I will be better prepared and figure out a way to do this that won’t bother you all; I hope you will indulge me this one time.

Leave a comment here (with contact details if you’re not a subscriber) to be entered. Winner will be selected at random from  comments received through Sunday, August 28…. It will be a Kindle edition, so anyone can enter from anywhere. Good luck!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I have been a fan of Judith Arnopp’s books (her latest, A Song of Sixpence, was just published – I interviewed her on this blog just last week, it’s a wonderful read) and that makes me all the more thrilled that she nominated me  for a Versatile Blogger Award. To “accept” the award, I must follow several guidelines:

The Rules for accepting the Award(s):

  1. Display the Award Certificate
  2. Write a post and link back to the blogger who nominated you
  3. Post seven interesting things about yourself
  4. Nominate up to fifteen other bloggers (and why you’ve nominated them)
  5. Inform them of their nomination

So, first, thank you Judith for this wonderful compliment and opportunity. I love your blog too, http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/

Next (since the Certificate heads the post!), seven things about me:

  1. One of the highlights of my youth was being allowed to visit the Pierpont Morgan Library on a day when it was closed to the public and examine (though not touch!) books from Queen Elizabeth’s personal library and actual letters that the young Princess Elizabeth (technically Lady Elizabeth…) had written.
  2. I high-fived Dolores Huerta (co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the National Farmworkers Association).
  3. I have read James Clavell’s Shogun more than a hundred times and hope to read it a hundred more. Best book ever written.
  4. I have a third-degree black belt in Yoshukai Karate. Technically my title is “Sempai” but I prefer “Sensei” (which is applicable to all levels of black belt).
  5. When I was young, my best friend was the daughter  of artist Frank Stella. He used to let us play in his workshop – and draw with grease pens on bare metal that had been molded into sculptures but not yet painted. Somewhere out there, there is a Frank Stella sculpture with a drawing of mine hidden beneath its paint.
  6. My first job (other than babysitting) was as a counter waitress at a donut store (I was 15). I hated yelling out the orders and insisted on running to the grill guy so that I could use a normal tone of voice. I got fired pretty quickly…
  7. I cannot have house plants, I kill them no matter how hard I try. Even cactuses.

And finally, my list of other bloggers that deserve the same kind of recognition, based on the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, and the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Although Judith nominated several that I would have added here (Claire Ridgway, Beth Von Staats…) I do have a number of wonderful alternatives:

  1. Karina Read – A history major who covers many topics, and for while was an avid Anne Boleyn/Tudor/Medieval/Castle-visiting enthusiast.
  2. Danielle Merchant – Offering the real story behind the infamous Lady Rochford and exploring other Tudor issues.
  3. Susan Abernethy – Fascinating writer of all things history.
  4. Nancy Bilyeau – A writer of Tudor-era historical thrillers.
  5. Catherine Curzon – Glorious Georgian dispatches from the long 18th Century.
  6. Geri Walton Jane – History of the 18th and 19th centuries.
  7. Conor Byrne – A university  student focusing on gender and social issues (he recently published a wonderful new biography of Catherine Howard).
  8. Jude Knight – A writer of historical romance set in late Georgian England.
  9. Natalie Grueninger – Author of the book On The Tudor Trail, she recreates the magic on the blog!
  10. Sharon Bennett Connolly – Her blog name says it all: “History: The Interesting Bits”
  11. Aquileana – A wonderful collection of Greek mythology

Finally, I have to mention the English Historical Fiction Authors – an amazing collection of wonderful bloggers that post a new compelling topic every day. I would nominate every one of their bloggers, it is definitely worth a follow.

I hope you enjoy these  as  much as I do!

My First Guest Blog Post!

December 8, 2014 - My First Guest Blog Post!

(Photo by gustavofrazao via Deposit Photos)

I am proud to announce a momentous step in my writing journey: I just published my first guest blog post. It is for English Historical Fiction Authors, one of my favorite groups and sites.  Entitled “An Apologia for Thomas Boleyn,” my post examines the life of the much-maligned Sir Thomas Boleyn:

http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/2014/12/an-apologia-for-sir-thomas-boleyn.html

When I started, I thought it would be a relatively easy thing. After all, I had gotten comfortable with the basic premise of my own blog (to deliver interesting takes about the Tudors and what it’s like to write about them) and this was in-line with that mark.  With almost 20 completed posts, I had found my voice (enough of one, anyway…) and gotten into an easy writing rhythm. The topic of Sir Thomas Boleyn was an easy one because of the timing – the date I was given to write the post was the anniversary of Sir Thomas Boleyn’s elevation to the Earldoms of Wiltshire and Ormonde. I already had  a strong opinion on the issue – before I settled down to write about Jane Seymour, I had spent years preparing to write about Anne Boleyn and was comfortable with her family dynamics. Smooth sailing, right? Um, no.

It required more of an effort than I expected.  First, my posts are on the sassy side and about a single page long, while the EHFA runs scholarly articles that are closer to 3 pages long and require citations. Next, I realized that the topic I’d chosen was more complex than I’d realized.  There are so many details necessary to a real understanding of Sir Thomas Boleyn – and many of these can be gleaned only through guesses. We don’t have much evidence to illuminate his relationships with his daughters, we have to infer based on the scant historical record. My own opinions go back and forth. There are so many subtleties to his story, so many twists and turns. Go on any forum with a Tudor theme, and you will see the vitriol that he elicits, even though that is due to our own reframing of his life based on current societal norms.

Still, it was a worthwhile effort. It opened me up to a new style of article, a version that I will add here and there to round out my own blog’s repertoire. It got me thinking that I should go back and add some citations to my own shorter articles, to make it easy for my readers to pursue topics I’ve written about. And of course it gives me great pride to contribute to such a well-respected site.  It is another step on a journey that I am so very grateful to be taking.

If you got here from that post (and even if you didn’t), I’d love to have you share your thoughts…

Teaching Rhetoric – AP English Language

Rhetoric Defined, photo by Aga77ta

Rhetoric Defined, photo by Aga77ta

Earlier this year, I purchased two amazing classes that helped my editing immensely. Both were from Margie Lawson, a psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter who has developed innovative editing systems and deep editing techniques praised by thousands of writers, from newbies to New York Times bestsellers. One of Margie’s most popular offerings is her Deep Editing course, in which she teaches writers thirty rhetorical devices and how to use them (not all at a time, mind you…) to strengthen their scenes. Basic but powerful.

Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. I had learned many of these devices in my youth, but at that time I wasn’t yet a writer. As a result, the topic was interesting but not compelling. Not the way it is now.

Meanwhile, my son is in eleventh grade this year, and one of the classes he is taking is AP English Language. Both of my daughters had taken this course, as well as AP English Literature. I never paid much attention – any of the three times. I never bothered to look over the syllabus. I just assumed this was an advanced grammar class.

Imagine my shock when he was cleaning out his schoolbag the other day and pulled out a “cheat sheet” the teacher had created for the students naming and explaining all the rhetorical devices.  I was blown away. He explained that they had started the course with the rhetorical strategies, then had recently moved on to incorporate the devices. I immediately asked for a copy for myself, and started to recount all the different ways I had used many of the points on the list. Even better: he matched me story for story.

I am so thrilled and proud that this is part of the education we offer our youth. The art of persuasive communication is a central element of culture, it should not be postponed until college or limited to students who join the debate club. It absolutely belongs in high school classes to improve students’ outcomes all their lives. Of course, we will all need reminding of some of the details from time to time, but the initial exposure makes all the difference. I only wish there were some way of expanding the class to encompass all high school students…

The One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Bog Award

I was nominated by fellow writer Jude Knight for the One Lovely Blog Award. The award recognizes newer or up-and-coming bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a “lovely” manner, giving them recognition and helping them reach more viewers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines. I have these guidelines listed below.

The Rules for accepting the Award(s):

  1. Thank and link back to the awesome person who nominated you.
  2. Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on their blogs to let them know.

So, first, thank you Jude for this wonderful compliment and opportunity. I love your blog too, http://judeknightauthor.com

Next (since the logo heads the post!), seven things about me:

  1. One of the highlights of my youth was being allowed to visit the Pierpont Morgan Library on a day when it was closed to the public and examine (though not touch!) books from Queen Elizabeth’s personal library and actual letters that the young Princess Elizabeth (technically Lady Elizabeth…) had written.
  2. I high-fived Dolores Huerta (co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the National Farmworkers Association).
  3. I have read James Clavell’s Shogun more than a hundred times and hope to read it a hundred more. Best book ever written.
  4. I have a third-degree black belt in Yoshukai Karate
  5. When I was young, my best friend was the daughter  of artist Frank Stella. He used to let us play in his workshop – and draw with grease pens on bare metal that had been molded into sculptures but not yet painted. Somewhere out there, there is a Frank Stella sculpture with a drawing of mine hidden beneath its paint.
  6. My first job (other than babysitting) was as a counter waitress at a donut store (I was 15). I hated yelling out the orders and insisted on running to the grill guy so that I could use a normal tone of voice. I got fired pretty quickly…
  7. I cannot have house plants, I kill them no matter how hard I try. Even cactuses.

And finally, 15 bloggers and their blogs that deserve the same kind of recognition. The first one was easy: June Hur,  who writes the wonderful http://missbluestocking.wordpress.com. Unfortunately, she was a recent recipient of the award so I couldn’t use her. The next four also leaped to mind:

  1. English Historical Fiction Authors – Amazing collection of bloggers. http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com
  2. The Anne Boleyn Files – The real truth about Anne Boleyn. http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com
  3. Sarah – Blogging about Anne Boleyn,Mary Boleyn and the other Tudors. http://queentohistory.blogspot.com
  4. Queen Anne Boleyn – another  amazing collection of historical writers. http://queenanneboleyn.com

Unfortunately, I realized that they are neither new nor up and coming – these blogs are well-established and have clearly arrived. So as a compromise, I decided to up my remaining number  slightly to nominate 12 more wonderful, lovely – and more eligible – blogs:

  1. Judith Arnopp  –  Historical novelist writing from a woman’s perspective in the Medieval and Tudor period. http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/
  2. Susan Bordo – Devoted to sharing views on Anne Boleyn and more. http://thecreationofanneboleyn.wordpress.com/
  3. Karina Read – Anne Boleyn/Tudor/Medieval/Castle-visiting enthusiast.   http://karinareadhistory.wordpress.com/
  4. Katherine Butler – Early Modern English Music!   http://katherineabutler.wordpress.com/
  5. Liana – A history student blogging about gardens. http://thatgardentho.tumblr.com/
  6. Keith Garrett Poetry – The title says it all.   http://keithgarrettpoetry.com/
  7. Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford – The real story behind the infamous Lady Rochford.   http://danielleliannem.wix.com/janeboleyn
  8. Susan Abernathy – Fascinating writer of all things history.   http://thefreelancehistorywriter.com/
  9. Sarah Johnson –  News, views, and reviews of historical fiction. http://readingthepast.blogspot.com/
  10. Catherine Curzon – Glorious Georgian dispatches from the long 18th Century. http://Madamegilflurt.com.
  11. Geri Walton Jane – History of the 18th and 19th centuries.   http://18thcand19thc.blogspot.com
  12. Conor Byrne – Historical issues (he is a university  student who just wrote a biography of Catherine Howard). http://conorbyrnex.wordpress.com

I hope you enjoy these  as  much as I do!

 

Backstory or Essential Tidbit? Help Me Decide!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This week, my editor finished critiquing my manuscript, Jane the Quene. As I read through her comments, I noticed that there were several passages she suggested I cut because they slowed the pacing…all backstory details that don’t need to be there but that give a fuller picture of the people and the times.  Let me say, I agree with the pacing argument – but some of these morsels seem essential to slip in elsewhere (in a way that is less distracting than I was apparently being). Of course, I realize I may be wrong about how important this information would be to other Tudor fans – so will you please help me out? Let me know which of these snippets would be most significant (or least significant) to you and I’ll figure out a way to make them work somewhere else (or cut them with fewer qualms). And thank you!

  • Perhaps as an outgrowth of his fear of death and disease, Henry was fascinated with herbs. He made his own remedies, both for himself and for friends, and even took his tools on progress with him. (I have to say, this is the one I care about most – I already know where it would really work).
  • Edward Seymour’s father seduced Edward’s first wife – then went slightly mad from guilt.
  • Henry’s boyhood household included Nicholas Carew, Charles Brandon, William Compton…and Henry Norris.
  • Even Sir Thomas More had recognized that vice existed in the monasteries and advocated that some houses be closed. (This is the one most likely to be simply cut, except that I love the background that prompted More’s condemnation: a prior of a religious house had hired a band of cutthroats to commit murder for him, then as a nod to his position, he made them pray with him in his cell before they left to do the deed).

Why Do We Love the Tudors?

The Tudors have long captured our imagination. Stories of Henry VIII and his wives, his children and the people who surrounded all of them, have emerged in regular cycles for decades in fiction and non-fiction books, movies, television shows and even theater. These stories have it all: passion, power, betrayal – and for the ultimate stakes. But what about all those other periods and places in history that are ignored despite their equally high-stakes passion, power and betrayal (Borgias, I’m thinking of you despite Showtime’s attempt to create a fan base…)? What gives the Tudors their enduring popularity?

I ask because I have been obsessed for forty years, reading every book I could about the period – at least until they included information that was patently incorrect. I started out captivated by Anne Boleyn and her relationship with Henry. This sparked an interest in the other wives and in Elizabeth, and from there I cycled pretty quickly through the entire cast of characters. Essentially all the Tudor stories are indelibly intertwined, perhaps that is the secret to how they draw people in. I can’t stop, but I also can’t tell you why.

For now, through a twist of fate, I have chosen to live and breathe the Seymours. Not only Jane – she’s just the first book – but also her brother Edward, whose rise to power after her death is best viewed as a counterpoint to Henry’s marital experiences, and her son, who was forced to execute both of his uncles during his brief time as king. I find their stories among the most compelling of the period – and yet they were nowhere on my list of favorites when my attraction to the era was born. Similarly, I have read posts (I am a member of the Tudor History Lovers’ group on Goodreads) where people declare their fascination for people like Bessie Blount or Elizabeth Gray – certainly not the first characters they would have encountered on their journeys.

So I’m asking – who is your favorite Tudor-era character and how did you get to them?

Countdown to Publication…The Professional Critique

Editor Definition in English Dictionary, Swell Photograph

Editor Definition in English Dictionary, Swell Photograph

This week I sent off my manuscript for a professional critique.

I am looking forward to getting the results of this critique, promised for a month from now. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is an element of dread. But I lived through being chosen as the example of what not to do in a not-so-distant-past  “Showing versus Telling” workshop (I still owe mountains of thanks to my defenders, who praised the writing itself), and I’ll live through this as well.

The actual sending off was easy. In the days leading up to the handoff, I got to a point where I couldn’t bring myself to work on it any more. I was done, and I knew it. Unable to work on larger story issues, I kept the guilt at bay by fixing formatting and scanning pages looking for red squiggles, Word’s way of questioning things we write.I was relieved to finally send it off, happy to turn my attention to the next book in the series.

But after I’d sent it, I developed this vague sense of regret. The feeling that I wanted a do-over,  that I could have gotten further along to figuring my issues out myself. The whole idea of the critique was to take me to a place I could not reach on my own. To use a video game metaphor, I didn’t want to waste the “level up” token that life had dealt me.

I have set aside that regret.  Right now, my manuscript is Schrodinger’s cat, both wonderful and in need of intensive work. And as I write these words, I realize, I ask for nothing more.