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Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane

Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane

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I am thrilled to announce my debut novel, Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane, will be published by Filles Vertes Publishing October 13, 2017. (Yes, that’s a Friday.)

Synopsis

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies, to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Her morbid desires are balanced with faith since she believes confession erases the sin, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s revengeful instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. The dilemma distracts her struggle to develop a pledged tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder, but the betrays are just beginning.

This novel was inspired by the life of Locusta, Rome’s notorious poison brewer, and a homily from my priest about the ease of getting caught in a cycle sin and penance. I can’t wait to share more with you in the coming months!

Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane

Progress Report and Publication Date Announcement!

Today marks completion of the second round of edits with my publisher for my debut historical fiction, Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane. This round concentrated on “line edits” which focus on word choice, sentence and paragraph structure, voice and style. I am so proud of how this manuscript has evolved and appreciate the efforts of my fantastic editor, Myra Fiacco. One of Filles Vertes Publishing interns, Cimone Watson, also provided comments as a beta reader.  The novel has matured since the last time I convinced friends and family beta read the thing, way before I ever signed a publishing contract. A fresh perspective is so critical during this process. Thank you to Cimone for your insights!

Next the manuscript goes to a copy editor (God bless them) and then text will be done! The thought both brings relief and dread. While I can read several chapters of the novel before changing words, I still find myself “tinkering.” Slowly I am losing the ability to change the words I have stressed over for months and like Lavinia, I prefer control.

At the same time, I can’t wait to release my labor of love.

So when can you get your hands on my novel?

I’m excited to announce Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane will be released on Friday, October 13. It’s the perfect date to introduce my vicious poison assassin to the world!

But isn’t Friday the 13th unlucky? Nope! Our daughter was born April 13 on Palm Sunday a few years ago, so the 13th is dear to my heart.

I want to express my appreciation to everyone who is cheering me on! I cherish all the tweets and comments from those who have expressed interest in my novel. I cannot wait to put Lavinia’s story into the world and invite you to stay tuned for future updates!

 

Guest Blog, Writing Tip

Guest Blog: Mastering Multiple Characters Through Point of View

I am deep in editing Apricot Seeds in Wolfsbane with a Sunday editorial deadline (eek!) So I’m a most grateful for today’s guest blogger, Caryl MacAdoo. Caryl is a fellow Texas, Christian, historical fiction author who has written an impressive list of books. Best of all, her Texas Romance, Daughters of the Heart, is FREE for Kindle until Thursday (6/8/17).

Thank you so much to Caryl for the fantastic advice below, and the giveaways!


19021456_10213693078109147_1681730785_nDaughters of the Heart, book five in my Texas Romance historical family saga, is a prime example of how Point of View is paramount to “telling” or more appropriately, “showing” a story with an ensemble cast—in this case the three co-heroine sisters. The characters will think differently according to their age and personalities. This must show, and POV is the way to do it!

Now if I tell you Bonnie Claire is a precocious twelve-year-old who thinks she’s almost grown, it isn’t the same as putting you into her head to see her heart, hear her thoughts and spoken words. In Bonnie’s POV, you’ll immediately identify with her because you’ve been there yourself or knowing someone who is or was. She should think and speak like a young lady on the verge of becoming a woman.

This is accomplished through me getting into that character’s head and remembering how I felt as a twelve-year-old. Of all the techniques, tools if you will, of writing creative fiction, this is the one that elevated my work to where my  mentors and peers started saying, “Good read, Caryl” at my weekly read and critique writers’ workshop.

Reporting ONLY what Bonnie, the one with the most emotion at risk in that scene —hence my POVC (Point of View Character) — sees, hears, feels, thinks, wonders, smells, loves and hates will place your reader right there living vicariously with that character. And that’s why readers read. She will not be thinking with the same rationale as her two older sisters, Gwendolyn or Cecelia.

So when I move to a scene where Gwen has the most emotion at risk — that’s how you choose who’s scene it is — I have to ramp up the maturity and remember when I was eighteen and held the world in my hands! So now I’m thinking and writing as a confident young woman ready for a great future. That will show in her thoughts — the narrative — and her dialogue. Characters can’t ALL sound like their author in thought or speech.

18983393_10213693082909267_1497275459_nBut dialogue is a whole different topic 🙂 You know, if POV has eluded you somewhat— I thought it was the hardest tool to grasp as a new writer thirty-something years ago — I have a book which might help: Story & Style, The Craft of Writing Creative Fiction. It’s written in an easy conversational tone with lots of examples. Plus is you have questions, you can contact the author! 🙂

18945176_10213693095749588_1057908741_nOH and don’t forget DAUGHTERS OF THE HEART is FREE right now through Thursday midnight! Though it’s book five, it does stand alone, but be forewarned, you’ll love these Buckmeyers and may have the need to read all ten novels in the series! 🙂

GIVEAWAY: I’ll send a print copy of book one in the saga VOW UNBROKEN as a giveaway for K.M.’s blog chosen from one of her commenters!

Blessings from Texas, and thank you K.M., for inviting me to visit 🙂


19021477_10213693085909342_438154923_nAward winning author Caryl McAdoo currently writes four series: the historical Christian ‘Texas Romance’; a contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; The Generations, her Biblical fiction and a mid-grade The King’s Highway. The prolific, bestselling novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her and painting. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty+ years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and sixteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes each one will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State with two grandsons, Christian and Benjamen.

 

 

Writing Tip

Minor Characters Don’t Believe They’re Minor

As Constantin Stanislavski once stated, “There are no small actors, only small parts.” 

This adage transfers to writing as well. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is to consider that a supporting/minor character may think the novel is actually about them.

This is certainly not the case for every side character, but the imagery of the thought helps me develop minor characters in an interesting way. They have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own motivations and baggage. The supporting character may believe their dialogue is the most important and that their actions drive the plot.

My advice: Allow your supporting characters to make bold choices and statements. Let them have their moment, and then move the spotlight.

However, maturing supporting characters is more challenging than the protagonist. The author simply has less words in which to develop their persona. Therefore, each appearance of the character needs to be considered to further the reader’s perception of the character in a way that supports the plot.

Note – I said perception.

Often the reader’s perception of a supporting character is not the same as how that character would view themselves. For example, would anyone argue Voldemort doesn’t think the books are about him? His portrayal through other characters leaves the reader to believe he is a villain, but I doubt he thinks of himself that way. Voldemort believes he is fulfilling a righteous duty to preserve pure blood families.

But given a supporting character receives reduced word count, often stereotypes or preconceived notions are relied upon to flush out the character. Consider the supportive, but less skillful best friend, or the jealous enemy who learns their lesson. But if the author can find a way to make supporting characters more interesting, it adds an additional layer of interest to the story. Successfully developed supporting characters can challenge your protagonist and enrich their journey.

Some things to consider when developing side characters:

  • What secret, ritual, inside joke do they share with your protagonist?
  • What do they know that your protagonist does not?
  • What distinctive trait will help the reader remember the character?
  • What motivates them and how is that different than the protagonist?
  • What skill do they offer to aid/hinder the protagonist?
  • What motivates your protagonist to interact with them?

Finally: What happens if the character was removed from the story?

If the answer is nothing, then the character truly is minor. If their presence does not further the plot, they should be cut.

 

 

 

Guest Blog

Guest Blog: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Today I’m excited to host Guest Blogger Jenna Brandt, another Christian historical fiction mom-author, who describes how she balances it all. Her debut novel, The English Proposal, will be released May 29 and is also highlighted below.


I have been asked before, “How do you manage all you do?” I suppose I do have a full plate with running my home, raising three girls, including a toddler, taking care of the accounting for our family business, volunteering at our church and being in several small groups. Additionally, because it’s been my dream since I was a little girl, I decided to start pursuing publishing my first series of books (Window to the Heart Saga) in January of this year.

So, what does a day in the life look like for someone with that busy of a schedule? I get up at 6:45 AM to make sure my oldest two girls are ready for school and then drive them there. All in all, that takes up the first two hours of my day. Next, I try to read my daily Jesus Calling devotional and then usually look at what I will be planning for dinner. If it’s a crock-pot meal, I prep and start it or if something that needs to be defrosted, I start that process. Then I pull out my MacBook while I put Sesame Street on for my toddler. Keeping an eye on her, I work on writing, marketing or networking depending on where I am in publishing (right now I am in a marketing blitz with my first book, The English Proposal, coming out May 29th). I follow that up, by going out to our business office and taking care of bills, correspondence, etc. Somewhere in the day, I try to get house work done, but I admit, it’s usually low on the priority list.

By this time, I usually need to do some grocery shopping for my family of five and after that, I go pick up the kids from school. My afternoons revolve around homework and hearing about the girls’ day at school, followed by dinner with the family. In the evening, we either go to a small group, Girl Scout meeting or school event with the exception of Friday nights, which is always reserved for family hangout.

After I get the kiddos to bed, I go back to writing/marketing/networking while I watch a little TV or read a book. I usually try to get to bed before midnight but that isn’t always doable. I go to sleep and wake up and do it all over again.

So, back to that original question, how do I manage everything? I just DO. I keep moving and working, and continue until everything I need to do gets done. Here’s the caveat, it NEVER gets all done. There is always something left on the list and usually more than one thing.

Someone once referred to me as “Superwoman,” and I realized, I didn’t like that term. It implied that I had to be supernatural to get everything done in my life, and if I wasn’t supernatural, I would fail. I am a normal woman. A mother, wife, friend, Christian, daughter doing the things I need to do to help the ones I love and those in need while fulfilling my own dreams. Finding balance is difficult, but it can be done. I think it’s like my dad always said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.” If you don’t hyper-focus on one thing, you will end up getting way more done in the long run.

*As I finish writing, this, I realized I forgot to pay one of the bills. Better jet out to the office and take care of it…


About Jenna Brandt: she is a Christian historical fiction author and her books span from the Victorian to Western eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith.

She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of her college newspaper.

She is an on-going contributor for The Mighty Website and her first Blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites.

Writing is her passion but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team as well as writes features for the church’s creative team. You can visit her on her website at www.jennabrandt.com and make sure to sign up for her newsletter. Her books (including the one plugged below) are available on Amazon as well as all other platforms.


The English Proposal: Christian Victorian Era Historical (Window to the Heart Saga Book 1) 

Sheltered on her family’s country estate, Lady Margaret, the daughter of an English Earl, is betrothed due to a family promise. Although Henry, the Viscount Rolantry, has been her best friend since childhood and she is expected to marry him, she never felt butterflies until she meets the Duke of Witherton. Against her father’s wishes, Margaret finds herself captivated by the forbidden duke. Caught between family loyalty and her own wishes, Margaret searches for a way to satisfy both her responsibilities and her longings. When tragedy strikes, Margaret finds herself seeking answers at church. But when she finally makes her choice, through her newfound faith, will she be able to live with the repercussions of her decision?

 

Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane

Publication Progress Report!

(I’m resisting the engineer in me to turn this blog post title into an acronym . . . )

Now that I’ve come up for air from editing my novel, Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane, it’s time for an overdue blog post and many of you have been asking for a publication status.

Today I’m ending a “developmental edit” round with my editor and am ecstatic with the result.

First, I owe a shout out to my editor, Myra Fiacco. Her editing suggestions were one of the reasons I signed with Filles Vertes Publishing from the offers I had. It was important for me to find a publisher who shared my vision and that I would creatively work well with.

Myra has pushed me and the novel, challenging me to add layers of complexity and additional plot twists. I also appreciate the little bits of positivity within her edits. Hearing your editor call a sentence “literary gold” surely puts a smile on any author’s face!

What is a developmental edit? This type of review is about the big picture: plot structure, character development, motivation, theme, pacing, etc. At this point I’ve read my book well over ten times. I know every little plot detail and am drowning within the work. An objective pair of eyes is required to pull an author’s head up, provide structural critique and ensure the message the author intends is coming across.

And yes, I am enjoying the process.

Every time an experienced editor combs through my writing, I learn about my weaknesses and it makes me a better writer. Through various forums and social media, I hear a lot of authors expressing nervousness and defensiveness towards edits. I get it. Writing is an intimate product, part of the author’s soul. But I’ve learned over years of freelance journalism, edits are not to point out what’s wrong with a manuscript, they’re not personal insults, they shine light onto opportunities for improvement. An editor is a critical partner.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed is the pressure of an editorial deadline.

I do not like writing to deadlines.

I never have.

I remember those nights watching the clock tick down when I was a freelance sports reporter in high school for my city newspaper, struggling to fill 15 column inches due two hours after a varsity baseball game. I’ve come a long way since then, and learned to stay relaxed under time pressure – but I don’t have to like it.

So what’s next? The plan is to dive into line edits, which focus on word choice, sentence and paragraph structure, voice and style. Shortly after, the manuscript will go to a copy editor to verify grammar and punctuation and then the text will be done! (Eek!)

Of course text alone does not make a book. I’m looking forward to cover design, writing cover copy and developing marketing plans over the summer, working towards fall publication.

Thank you to everyone who is following along with my progress and cheering me on. Stay tuned for another PPR!

(Yes, I caved.)