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November New Releases

Good morning!  My apologies for not posting since August. But when you see the results, I’m sure you will forgive me.

Hypatia of Alexandria webOn 1 August I took up a challenge I honestly did not think possible:  write “Hypatia of Alexandria” and release it before the first week of December.  Why did that seem so difficult?  Consider this:  it took nearly a year and a half to research and write “Empress Matilda of England” (LWWH book 7). And while it’s true I wrote Boudicca in less than a month (still my best-seller), Boudicca had ONE appendix in its initial release.  Hypatia has THREE.

And so I put aside the blog and really focused on writing.  In the middle of that I was a guest on the “Condensed History Gems” podcast hosted by Jem Duducu (@historygems) and Greg Chapman (@CondensedHist). Those interested can listen to my guest episode.

Persistence pays off and thanks to a lot of long days and nights, I succeeded in finishing Hypatia in September, allowing me to focus on the editorial and promotional work so essential to a successful book launch.

arban saman webIn the middle of that I had a bit of an attack of life, both personally and spiritually. Rather than blog about it, I decided to express what was in my mind in the form of historical fiction.  “The Arban and the Saman” takes me back to my roots in Chinese/East Asian history. The story begins in the year 1211, just five years after Temujin becomes Chinggis Khan when the Mongols first invaded the nuzhen (Jurchen) homeland. This is roughly the time period I played when I was a re-enactor in the Society for Creative Anachronism when I was known as “Biya.”  Biya means “the moon” in nuzhen/Jurchen/Manchu and it’s one of the few characters from the original nuzhen language used in the Jin dynasty that survived decades of warfare against the Mongols.

“The Arban and the Saman” explores the subject of soul mates and soul family. It’s a deeply spiritual historical romance that takes you far more intimately into my own life experience than really any other book I’ve written to date. In the book I take you into what it was like during some of my “near” death experiences and what I experience when I meditate.  I take you into Asian medicine. And yes, I challenge you intellectually to think about the subject of soul mates, soul family, and reincarnation and our assumptions about them.

It’s a beautiful story and one I hope you will enjoy.  And yes, that model on the cover is me.  The photo was extracted from a musical performance I gave near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the winter of 2006.

To my great surprise I finished and published “The Arban and the Saman” on 1 November, 2017 and released it immediately with the promotional blog tour scheduled for February 2018 in celebration of Chinese New Year: the Year of the Dog.

Hypatia of Alexandria launched on 10 November 2017. The promotional blog tour for Hypatia begins on Sunday 19th November, 2017.

Defend the light candle 2Prizes will be given during both blog tours.  For “Hypatia,” three lucky winners will “defend the light” with special votive candles, plus one grand prize winner will receive a signed paperback copy.

rose quartz pendants

To celebrate the magic and mysticism of “The Arban and the Saman” three lucky winners will each receive a beautiful rose quartz pendant. The grand prize winner will receive a selection of Chinese teas from http://www.enjoytea.com.

Happy holidays! Thanks for reading! And don’t remember to always DEFEND THE LIGHT of knowledge and wisdom.

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“Catherine de Valois”Stage Verses Book: How The Adaptation Differs From The Biography

The following article is part of the reference materials at the end of “Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts.”

 

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“Based on a true story.”  When we hear those words we know and fully expect (rightfully) that a play, teleplay, or screenplay takes certain artistic licenses that deviate from events as they really happened.

Though every effort was made to keep this stage play as faithful to the biography upon which it is based as possible, there are a few differences between book and play which make both worth reading, exploring, and performing.

As with all books, the narrative biography “Catherine de Valois” uses prose-format narrative covering events that are not readily translated to the stage.  For example, after the Battle of Agincourt, King Henry V secured an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor and together waged a naval battle against the French and Genovese at Harfleur in 1416.  Between Act I, Scene VI and Scene VII four full years have passed.  In the book you know what happened; in the play you do not.  Likewise the book covers the entire twenty-seven months Catherine and Henry were married, including the birth of Prince Henry on 6th December 1421.  Finally the book explores Catherine’s marriage to Owen Tudor.  We are there in the book as each of Catherine’s sons are born, seeing Catherine as the loving mother that she was and why King Henry VI, Owen Tudor, and Edmund Tudor remained so close after her death in January 1437.

Though most of the events covered in the narration were left out of the play (for example, the birth of Edmund Tudor), some events that were conveyed narratively instead of dramatically are in the play.  These appear as new scenes:

  • Act I, Scene VIII: in this mother-daughter scene set fourteen months after Henry and Catherine’s first meeting in October 1419, we learn that Catherine and Henry married on 2nd June 1420 and that Catherine still despises Henry.
  • Act II, Scene IV: as the Siege of Meaux begins in earnest, King Henry confides to his younger brother John Duke of Bedford about his marriage to Queen Catherine.  Henry’s court herald arrives from London to inform him of the birth of his son, Prince Henry.
  • Act II, Scene VI: Catherine returns to Paris certain that her duties as queen of England are now over with Henry’s death. This scene was added to make it explicit that Henry V is dead.
  • Act III, Scene III: Catherine and Owen’s wedding.  Historically all we know about this wedding is that it happened in secret  sometime before 1427 and that their priest told no one.  This scene shows the wedding to make it clear that Catherine and Owen married at least three years before Edmund’s birth in 1430.

Finally one scene stealing character was all but removed from the play version on practical grounds.  That character of course is Isabelle, Catherine’s Alexandrine parakeet.

In medieval Europe, companion birds were the primary pets for most people with the type of bird kept largely controlled by wealth and access to the food and shelter needs of the bird species.  From 2006 to 2013 I researched medieval aviculture as part of my membership in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I became society expert on parrots in the middle ages and taught seminars on both medieval aviculture and medieval falconry.  So it only makes sense that my expertise in this area makes an appearance in Catherine’s biography.  In fact nothing could be more “Laurel” than including a parrot in the narrative.

In the book Isabelle behaves exactly the way the parrots I know (mine and those of friends) behave.  From the food stealing in chapter one to the playful aerial antics in chapter three, the book showcases life with parrots as I know it.

Parrots are unpredictable; they have minds of their own; they are not domesticated creatures.  Though they can be trained, there is no guarantee at any given moment that the bird will do what you ask.  In a live environment like theatre this is asking for trouble, trouble readily avoided by keeping Isabelle confined to a single scene where she can be replaced by a hand prop if need be.

 

In summary, “Catherine de Valois:  A Play in Three Acts” is a faithful adaptation to its parent biography.  Though not everything in the book makes it to the stage, it accurately and dramatically renders the events of Queen Catherine’s life in a form so entertaining it’s hard to realize how much you are learning in the process.

Enjoy the audio edition, kindle edition, and paperback edition of the original biography on Amazon sites worldwide.  Audio edition narrated by veteran Shakespearean actor and voice artist Richard Mann.

 

Ghosts of the Past: the Dark Side of Medieval politics

Ghost of the Past Chinese webLast week the Ghosts of the Past debuted in Chinese language edition thanks to the careful work of some of the best translators in all of Beijing.  One measure of feedback I received from my editor was just how dark and sexy the book was.  Given my well deserved scholarly reputation as a historian, Ghosts of the Past and its equally saucy sequel Princess Anyu Returns might seem out of place from the rest of my work.  Out of place until you look deeper into history and explore the treacherous realm of sexual politics that was the experience for most medieval noble and royal women.

Life for women has always been somewhat of a treacherous experience filled with dangers.  With few or no legal rights or protections, women rarely decided for themselves who to have sex with, let alone marry.  Instead the men in their families, their governments, and their religions held almost complete control over their bodies.  Among women of high social status this meant that women’s bodies were tools for gaining wealth, power, and social status by those in position to use them.

Ghosts of the Past cover webThis social and political reality for women underscores the sometimes brutally dark sides to Beinarian society.  Sex and childbearing are tools the villains (both female and male) use at their leisure to impose their will on others, advancing mysterious agendas that only become clear after Princess Anyu Returns from her exile.   These agendas add spice to both Ghosts of the Past and Princess Anyu Returns with twists and turns around every corner.  Villains use sex and violence freely to achieve their goals, predating on the innocent and using every method at their disposal to thwart the heroes and heroines.  They are just as likely to kill as seduce and use offspring created at the expense of their enemies as weapons against them.

It is a dark, dystopic realm where only the bravest dare tread.

Are you brave enough to travel there?

 

Find the Ghosts of the Past in English on Amazon, Barnes/Noble, Smashwords, and iTunes or in Chinese on Amazon, Chinese Amazon, and Douban.

Name Your Own Price Comes to the Peers of Beinan

Complete Series 3DThe Peers of Beinan Series is my epic medieval social science fiction series focusing on the adventures of Beinarian nobles and royals from the Gurun dynasty.  It is a six book series with a Legacy of Princess Anlei Trilogy edition and a Complete Series volume.  There’s also The Complete Data Files reference book and The Lost Tales companion book for a total of ten total book titles.

 

Effective the 12th of April 2015 all regular Peers of Beinan series books are now name your own price on Smashwords.  The two books that are staying regular price are the two you expect:  the Legacy of Princess Anlei Trilogy edition and The Complete Series volume because these contain multiple books at already low prices.

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Name your own price is only available on Smashwords; on all other retailers such as Amazon, Barnes/Noble, and iBookstore the books are all at their regular prices.

 

View and purchase the entire Peers of Beinan series on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/2371.

Repost: How Not To Request A Book Review

negative emotion isEarlier this week DA Bale sent me her blog post from BookDaily.com on what NOT to do when requesting a book review.  As always I do not like anything phrased in the negative because that has you thinking in negative terms instead of focusing on everything in the positive.  With that caveat in mind, here is her post in full.  Enjoy!

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You’ve sent out hundreds of emails to reviewers. You wait. You wait some more. Months pass. Impatience grows. You’re tempted to re-contact to ensure they received your request.

Don’t.

Seriously. DON’T DO IT.

Once you’ve sent out that initial request, you’re done. Most reviewers only respond if they’re interested – months later. It goes back to the flood of daily requests and a day’s limitation of twenty-four hours. Cross it off your list and move on.

As a fellow author, I make a point of responding to every request to avoid leaving others hanging in the dark. Yes, my response is usually a canned email (I know yours is too). Yes, I turn down the majority of requests.

Here’s why.

1. Genre: It’s obvious when an author sends romance that he/she hasn’t taken time to read my instructions. I make it very plain I’m not interested in romance, erotica, or horror. My favorites are thriller, mystery, and suspense followed by occasional fantasy. Check a blogger’s likes and dislikes. We put lists out for a reason. Don’t waste time sending romance to a thriller enthusiast.

2. Book title: Missing. If a reviewer has to spend time searching a massive email to discern something that should be in the first paragraph, it’s pretty much going in the trash.

3. Author name: Missing yet again. It’s frustrating not to have any idea to whom you’re corresponding. Even email addresses are just cutesy with no sort of identifier. If you’re going be an author, create an identifiable author dedicated email. Then remember to reference your name at least once, even if only at the close.

4. Book blurb: Excluded! Many authors place a link to the purchase page or website and expect reviewers to click on it. Not happening. Then again, sometimes the blurb is simply boring, long and convoluted descriptions that don’t say anything. I’ve even seen a book blurb with another section to state what the book is really about. Seriously? If you need to describe your description, something’s wrong.

5. Honest review: Telling a potential reviewer you seek an honest review is like telling them all their reviews up to yours have been less than honest. Reviewers try to keep opinions straightforward without outside influences. Saying you want an honest opinion is a slap in the face.

6. Free book: You’re asking me to review your novel. Of course you’re going to give me one. Stating you’re offering a free or reduced price book projects an unprofessional image. I’ve even had authors send me the link to buy their book. Understand this if you didn’t already – if you’re requesting a reviewer to spend personal time reading and reviewing your novel, a free copy is expected. End of story.

7. I’m new: Quick question – would you ever say this to a potential client in your day job? Don’t short-change yourself. You may have been writing novels for five minutes or five, ten, twenty years and just decided to plunge into indie publishing. Approach a reviewer with confidence regardless of how long you’ve been writing. You’re a legitimate, bonafide author.

8. Accomplishments: If you’ve won awards for novels in your publishing quiver, a reviewer would love to know. If you’ve won awards for poetry, journalism, or employee of the month – in other words anything outside of novel writing – don’t mention it. It means nothing to most reviewers. Cold truth.

9. Other reviews: Emails pile into my inbox incorporating excerpts of other reviews a novel has received. Share these with family and friends – not potential reviewers. Goes back to number five about avoiding outside influences. Reviews are subjective, the opinion of the individual reviewer.

10. Links: Unless a reviewer requests website links in your initial correspondence, don’t include any.

11. Attachments: Once again, unless a reviewer’s guidelines specifically state to do so, do not attach your book cover, author image, eBook or PDF file with your initial request. When we want them – if we want them – we’ll ask.

12. Reviewer instructions: Self explanatory. Reviewers put instructions up to help you and save everyone time. Read it. Do it. If you choose not to, shame on you because your request is heading for the trash bin. This leads me to another thing – always check to see if a reviewer is currently accepting reviews. Reviewers close submissions when the reading pile gets too big. If a reviewer has closed submissions, abide by this please. Otherwise it’s a huge time-waster, and your email is another great big delete.

Stay tuned for how to get on a reviewers must read list.

About the Author:
In her previous career, D.A. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes “not so pretty” reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.

She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.

You can find out more about her on her website www.dabalepublishing.blogspot.comand on Twitter

The Ultimate Reading Quest is on!

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CLICK ON THIS BUTTON TO START YOUR QUEST!

WATCH THE VIDEO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READING QUEST.

Happy New Year from all the Authors in the Ultimate Reading Quest! This year myself, and all the Quest authors, want you to enjoy your reading experiences more than ever! So in 2015, the Ultimate Reading Quest has more, more, more! More authors and more books, means more mystery, more danger, more intrigue and more edge-of-your-seat adventure awaits you! We want you, our readers, to be able to fill that Kindle, tablet or E-reader you got for Christmas, with fabulous reads to take you through 2015. The Quest is so much fun! Who doesn’t love searching for treasure? The ULTIMATE READING QUEST is about finding books that are “perfectly” suited to your reading taste by clicking on choices. To thank you for participating, the authors have decided to give away oodles of prizes for free! Enter your name to win Amazon cards and free books from authors! Plus a whole store of treasured books are just waiting to be discovered by you!

Enjoy your journey as you travel through the QUEST! Don’t forget to enter the raffle on the first page of the Quest. And please leave comments or questions for the authors of the Quest. We would love to hear from you. What are you waiting for? Click on the button above or below to get started on your QUEST for the next ULTIMATE READ!

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CLICK ON THE BUTTON TO START YOUR QUEST!

 

Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni

The Great Succession CrisisGood-bye A672E92 Quintus

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine de ValoisAs part of the quest, I am offering 2 $5 Amazon gift cards, an audio copy of Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni (USA only), plus FIVE digital copies of the four books featured in the quest:  The Great Succession Crisis, Good-bye A672E92 Quintus, Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni, and Catherine de Valois.

 

So join the quest, discover the hottest in middle grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction books, and enter to win these and other prizes!

Character Profile: Unwanted

lumpy ducklingSeries the character belongs to (if any): Weaver Tales
Character name: UnWanted
Parents names (if known): My mom was an elf, but my dad was a gnome, so I only have half the magic.
Place of Birth (if known):

I don’t remember. I left my mom when I was young

Book(s) appearing in:

The Weaver, The Wishing Well, The Lumpy Duckling

 

Profile:

Unwanted is a misunderstood gnome-elf who grants wishes that complicates problems instead of resolving them. First he gives Mary odd little yarn charms instead of helping her tell a better story. Then he makes Molly’s family even more mean than they were before she made her wish. Most recently, he all but killed Wheezy’s best friend, Lumpy after she made her wish.
Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation:
Dobby the house elf or the Travelocity gnome