Friday, September 28, 2007

From Publishers Marketplace today

If you guessed that I mainly post deals when I don't have time to post much else, you're probably right. It's been a decent writing week, meaning I'm about 2/3 done with the literary fiction chapter. Christian fiction, I think, will be next, with Westerns, historical adventure, and a few others still to go.

In the meanwhile, here are some recent publishing deals to ponder.

Ariana Franklin's GRAVE GOODS, a third novel in the Adelia Aguilar series about a female medical examiner in 12th century England, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam, for publication in 2009, by Helen Heller at Helen Heller Agency (US).

Golden Keyes Parsons's historical series about a Huguenot family who face devastating persecution for their faith in Louis XV's France, to Natalie Hanemann at Thomas Nelson, in a four-book deal, by Mary Beth Chappell at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency (World).

Professor of history at Brandeis Jane Kamensky and professor of history at Harvard University Jill Lepore's BLINDSPOT, an erotic romp about a fallen woman who disguises herself as a boy to serve as the apprentice to a portrait painter in Boston as the American Revolution is waged, to Cindy Spiegel at Spiegel & Grau, at auction, by Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).

Rebecca Cantrell's EVEN SMOKE LEAVES A TRACE, about an undercover crime reporter in Berlin in 1931 who discovers her brother's murder and resolves to find the killer, sparking a series of discoveries that lead her from the city's dark underbelly to the upper ranks of the rising Nazi party, to Kristin Sevick at Tor/Forge, in a nice deal, plus a sequel, for publication in July 2009, by Elizabeth Evans at Reece Halsey North (NA).

Vienna historian J. Sydney Jones's THE EMPTY MIRROR, the first in series of historical thrillers in which the painter Gustav Klimt is fingered as the murderer of five young Viennese girls, but attorney Werthen and criminologist Gross soon discover that the trail actually leads directly to the gates of the Hofberg itself, to Thomas Dunne at Thomas Dunne Books, for publication in Fall 2008, in a two-book deal, by Alexandra Machinist at the Linda Chester Literary Agency (world).

Trade paperback rights for Margaret Cezair-Thompson's number one Book Sense Pick for October, THE PIRATE'S DAUGHTER, to Jane von Mehren at Random House, in a significant deal, by Unbridled Books. [Review will be out in November's HNR; it's set in late 1940s Jamaica]

Shona MacLean's THE REDEMPTION OF ALEXANDER SEATON, a historical crime novel about faith, betrayal, witchcraft, friendship and forgiveness set in 17th century Scotland, to Jane Wood at Quercus, for publication in July 2008, by Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Queen Jane Sans-Tête

This ARC for a forthcoming historical biography just arrived chez moi. Recognize the cover image?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Off-topic, but too funny not to share

For all of you historical fiction fans who sometimes read fantasy (not sure how many are out there, besides me), please visit this gallery of LOL fantasy cover art.

And if you're not sure what the whole LOL business is all about:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's déjà vu all over again

It's interesting to note the serendipity that sometimes happens in the genre. Two or more authors, working independently, choose the same subject for their historical novels, and all are published not too far apart from one another. I'm not talking about an "Anne Boleyn" type phenomenon, where authors pick a marquee name well known to everyone, either.

While working on my literary historicals chapter last night, I noted four historicals set during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918: Reina James's This Time of Dying (UK 2006, US 2007), Thomas Mullen's The Last Town on Earth (2006), Myla Goldberg's Wickett's Remedy (2005), and Kaye Gibbons' Divining Women (2004). Same topic, but very different in focus and locale (London, Washington State, Massachusetts, North Carolina).

The year 2004 also saw the publication of the acclaimed nonfiction study The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History, by John M. Barry. Perhaps it, and/or the SARS crisis of 2003 (or the bird flu scare, or even AIDS for that matter), inspired one or more of these novelists?

Publishers Marketplace mentions two upcoming novels about Muhammad's wife:

Sleeper Cell and The Bionic Woman screenwriter and debut novelist Kamran Pasha's SHADOW OF THE SWORDS, a love story set amidst the showdown between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades, and MOTHER OF THE BELIEVERS, the birth of Islam from the eyes of Muhammad's wife Aisha, a politician and warrior, to Suzanne O'Neill at Atria, in a good deal, by Rebecca Oliver at Endeavor (World English). [deal reported yesterday]

Journalist Sherry Jones's debut historical novel A'ISHA, BELOVED OF MUHAMMAD, set in seventh-century Arabia, the story of the favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad, recreating her marriage at the age of nine, her struggle for personal freedom in a society where women had few rights, and her dedication to The Prophet's vision of a true faith, to Judy Sternlight for Ballantine, in a pre-empt, for two books, by Natasha Kern of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency (world). [deal reported April '07]
In my previous Historical Fiction volume, we had two novels about Eliza Lynch, the Irish-born mistress of Francisco Solano López, president of Paraguay in the mid-19th century: Anne Enright's The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2004) and Lily Tuck's The Road from Paraguay (2003). Also in 2003 we had the nonfiction biographies The Shadows of Eliza Lynch by Sian Rees and The Empress of South America by Nigel Cawthorne.

This doesn't mean I'd advise authors to set their new novels in Paraguay, however. Who would've thought it?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

How young is too young?

Every once in a while, I'll read a review of a historical novel in which the reviewer expresses discomfort about the heroine's young age. Some people prefer not to be reminded that a mere hundred years ago, while most women first married in their early twenties, it wasn't unusual for new brides to be fifteen or sixteen. Or even younger.

My favorite example comes from Romantic Times' review of Charlotte Hubbard's Journey to Love: "Even though a 16-year-old seeking marriage was common in the 1860s, it is unsettling to read about today." This novel received a whopping one star from RT, largely - it appears - because of the heroine's age, some sexual references, and the "frequent swearing," which the reviewer found offensive. (It's set in the Old West, by the way, and not from a Christian publisher.) It's a matter of taste, but such a novel wouldn't offend me. In fact, the review almost makes me want to buy it!

It's one thing to prefer to read about heroines of one's own age, because one can identify with them more. This is something different. One-star reviews are very rarely given out, and this one, IMHO, wasn't deserving.

I suspect the reviewer felt unsettled because the novel was too realistic, destroying the pleasant sense of escapism it was supposed to provide. She probably wouldn't want to know about my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Smith, married at fourteen in 1871, in rural central Michigan, to a man nine years her elder. It happened.

This sort of thing can make people squeamish, so you don't see it much, accuracy aside. I can think of two other examples, taken from history and historical fiction. First there's Meggotta de Burgh, from Edith Pargeter's The Marriage of Meggotta, married in her early teens to the young man she loves in a story one Amazon reviewer calls "deeply romantic and tragic." Also Margaret Beaufort, from Iris Davies' Bride of the Thirteenth Summer, better known as Henry VII's mother. The latter novel was retitled Destiny's Child upon its 1999 re-release, for reasons that should be obvious. Both works were published first in the 1970s. Shall we be seeing a romance about Mary de Bohun, first wife of Henry Bolingbroke, published anytime soon? Not likely.

On the other hand, the heroine of Priscilla Galloway's The Courtesan's Daughter, set in ancient Greece, is fourteen-year-old Phano. (Excellent novel, btw, selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults in 2002.) Interestingly, and paradoxically, sentiments of uneasiness about her age seem not to exist. Reviews simply mention that at nearly fifteen, she's of marriageable age. Is this because it's a YA novel, or because it was set so long ago that readers don't automatically compare Phano with her 21st century counterparts?

How much like 21st century people, in terms of age and marital status, should we expect our historical heroines to be? Given the choice, and to increase their chances of getting published, should authors make their heroines more like us? At a time when horror stories of 14-year-old child brides from polygamous sects are splashed all over CNN, do you find the idea of 16-year-old romantic heroines in the Old West realistic, disturbing, or both?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Now, to the book piles

This is Max, helping me summarize books for my "literary historical fiction" chapter:

And this is the latest pile of recent acquisitions, waiting to be cataloged in Librarything and Readerware:

I estimate I'm almost half done with my chapter. The month is almost half over, so this is good progress.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This was rather scary

So tonight at around 8:55pm (30 minutes ago) I was taking a photo of my latest book pile, getting it ready to post here, when an email came through from Amazon acknowledging that I'd just changed my email to and that my password had also been changed. I rarely get spam these days, and the email looked like it had actually originated from Amazon, so I checked the header. It had. The message was real.

Then I went to Amazon itself, and discovered that my email and password indeed had been changed - and I was locked out of my account. I log onto Amazon only from my home and work PCs, and my password isn't easy to guess, so I have no idea how this could have happened. Maybe someone was using a password-generating program and managed to get in.

After spending about 15 minutes on the phone with a customer service rep from India, verifying various address/credit card details, I have my account back. I'm just fortunate I had the PC on when that password-change email came through, or else someone could've gotten in and bought whatever, using my credit card, and had it shipped to them.

Anyhow, if you get an email regarding a password change from Amazon, don't assume it's a spoof - check the message header to be sure.

Book pile photos coming up.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Deals, deals, and more deals

Apologies, I've been neglecting this blog lately -- real life has taken over, with a multitude of library workshops to teach (and many students asking for help at the reference desk). I'm also in the middle of my literary fiction chapter. It promises to be long, which is why I'm making myself write it sooner rather than later. As a result, the house has piles of books scattered everywhere.

Oh, and for the person who googled "anne boleyn bodybuilder" and found this blog - I don't think I have what you're looking for.

These were spotted on Publishers Marketplace recently:

Jeane Westin's THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS, exploring the constricted heart of the most famous queen in history, Elizabeth I, again to Ellen Edwards at NAL, in a nice deal, for publication as a trade paperback original, by Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller Literary Associates (NA).
[not sure what it's about, but it seems to be general fiction, not romance...]

The Last Town on Earth author Thomas Mullen's THE MANY DEATHS OF THE FIREFLY BROTHERS, which tells the story of two brothers, bank robbers and pop culture heroes, set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, to Jennifer Hershey at Random House, by Susan Golomb of Susan Golomb Agency.

Film rights to Robert Graves' I, CLAUDIUS, to Scott Rudin, who will produce along with Alison Owen (The Other Boleyn Girl", for $2 million, at auction, by Nick Harris at RWSH, on behalf of the Graves estate.

Historical novelist C. W. Gortner's THE LAST QUEEN, the story of Juana La Loca, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit the throne, to Suzie Doore at Hodder & Stoughton, in a two-book deal, by Rachel Kind at Ballantine (UK/Commonwealth).

Diana Birchall's MRS. DARCY'S DILEMMA, sequel to Price and Prejudice, to Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks Casablanca, in a nice deal, for publication in 2008, by Elizabeth Pomada at Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents (US).
[In case you haven't read any of the other dozen sequels, or want to read another?]

Lisa Marie Wilkinson's FIRE AT MIDNIGHT, about a French privateer/smuggler's quest for vengeance against the woman he erroneously believes betrayed him to the English customs authorities, to Helen Rosburg at Medallion Press, in a nice deal, for publication in March 2009.