Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bits and pieces

Hope you've been enjoying a relaxing Sunday.  It's been a quiet weekend - the cats are all sleeping, and I've been getting lots of reading done.  I've just finished my 3rd chunkster in a two-week period, James McGee's 530-page Rebellion, and I'll have a review up around the publication date in February.  In fact, I have three completed reviews in the pipeline (I say proudly) which makes me feel very productive.  I can't say that the TBR is dwindling, though, as Jan and Feb seem to be especially good months for historical novels.

A few news bits for the week.  I'm far from the first to announce this, but Historical Tapestry is now sponsoring the 2011 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.  I've signed up, though anyone who reads this site knows that this won't be a challenge for me... it's the blog's focus, after all.  But it looks like a fun group to be part of, and I'm impressed by the large number of participants.

As far as the challenge goes, the Severe Bookaholism level sounds appropriate, which means reading/reviewing 20 books in the upcoming year.  As I type this, I have more than 20 historical novels sitting on my very messy desk.

Piles everywhere - good thing I don't use the scanner very often.

It's hard for me to believe I haven't posted about the upcoming Historical Novel Society conference yet.  Our 4th event will take place at the Holiday Inn on the Bay in San Diego on June 17-19, 2011.  Guests of honor are Cecelia Holland and Harry Turtledove, with special guest Susan Vreeland.  Registration opened in late November, and we already have 120 people signed up.

I learned WordPress in order to set up the conference website.  It came out pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself!  If you read or write historical fiction and want to spend a weekend listening to speakers and mingling with others who share your obsession, the HNS conference is the place to be.  Registration, which includes all meals, will be open through May 22nd, or when the limit of 300 attendees is reached.  There'll be a good number of bloggers there in addition to many authors, publishers, agents, librarians, and other readers... I've been keeping the list of attendees up to date if you want to see who else has signed up.

I'll wrap up by posting several new deals from Publishers Marketplace.  You can expect to see these novels on bookstore shelves within the next year and more.

A Rose for the Crown author Anne Easter Smith's untitled fifth novel, about Jane Shore's rise and fall as the beloved mistress of England's King Edward IV, to Trish Todd at Touchstone, in a very nice deal, by Jennifer Weltz at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (US). [Hasn't been a new novel about Jane Shore in some time, I don't think.]

Jack Whyte's The Forest Laird, an epic historical about William Wallace, to Claire Eddy at Forge, in a nice deal, for publication in 2012, by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency (US). [The Forest Laird was recently published in Canada and the UK; see a related piece from the Vancouver Sun this week.] 

Mistress of the Art of Death series author Ariana Franklin's stand-alone medieval novel set during the chaotic and horrifying years of the war between Stephen and Matilda for the governance of England, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam, for publication in 2012, by Helen Heller at Helen Heller Agency (US). Canadian rights to Adrienne Kerr at Penguin Canada. [We've been discussing this at Historical Fiction Online, wondering if this is a reissue of The Morning Gift.  The description fits...]

The Jewel of Medina author Sherry Jones's Four Sisters, All Queens, about the four beautiful, accomplished daughters of countess of Provence who each become queens -- Marguerite, queen of France; Eleanor, queen of England; Sanchia, queen of Germany; and Beatrice, queen of Sicily - and worked not only to expand their husbands' empires and broker peace, but also to bring the House of Savoy to greater power and influence in a tale of greed, lust, ambition, and sibling rivalry on a royal scale in the thirteenth century, to Kathy Sagan at Gallery, by Natasha Kern at Natasha Kern Literary Agency (World English). [Nancy Goldstone's Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe was a recent nonfiction account of these prominent medieval sisters.]

R. L. LaFevers's Dark Mercy, pitched as La Femme Nikita meets A Great and Terrible Beauty, from a trio of romantic historical fantasies focusing on teen girl assassins in 15th century France, Dark Justice and Dark Hope, each focusing on a different assassin trained at a convent serving the god of death himself, to Kate O'Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's, in a pre-empt, in a good deal, for publication starting in spring 2012, by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (NA).

Ben Kane's Spartacus, the epic, inspirational story of Spartacus and the mass slave rebellion that he inspired against the might of Rome, to Rosie de Courcy at Preface, in a good deal, for publication in 2012, by Charlie Viney at The Viney Agency.


  1. So, I haven't seen one, but is there no Ariana Franklin book for 2011? I just thought you might know. :)

  2. Dark Mercy sounds interesting!

  3. Lots of good books coming up!! I"m looking forward to what you thought of Rebellion.

  4. Not for a while at least, Kailana, as I've seen her publisher's catalog through August and there isn't anything new. I heard via Elizabeth Chadwick on the HFO forum (who heard it from a writers' loop) that she had been seriously ill. That's all I know.

    I've been paying closer attention to YA historicals. I don't know if I'd buy that scenario for adult fiction, but for YA, it could work.

    Rebellion was an experiment of sorts! Historical adventure isn't what I usually read/review here, so it was an opportunity to branch out.

  5. The severe bookaholism isn't necessarily a challenge for me either, but you know, there has to be a line somewhere. We have briefly contemplated adding another level, which may still happen!

  6. Charlotte8:36 PM

    Mistress of the Art of Death and the Morning Gift are definitely not the same books. You will notice that even the style of writing is quite different. The Mistress of the Art of Death introduces a new character who carries on into at least three books that I have read so far. Great books. Just wish I could find her elusive earlier stuff.

  7. Charlotte, I don't think anyone meant to imply they were the same books, but it's possible that an earlier Diana Norman novel could be reissued under her new, more well-known pseudonym. Normally I'd expect a continuation of her existing series, but plans may have changed. I hope it's a brand new one - the more novels from her, the better. All speculation for now, though, until we get more information on the standalone novel set to appear in 2012.

    Marg, I think it would be difficult to set a challenging level for bloggers who specialize in historical fiction! I'm participating to promote the challenge, share my reads/reviews with others, and see what everyone else is up to. It's all good :)

  8. All of these books sound so tempting. I too registered for several historical fiction challenges and also realized afterwards they really challenges since that is what I read - and yet I am thinking of doing Historical Tapestry's challenge you mentioned.

  9. No, wait, THAT's a messy desk??? There's no hope for the rest of us. (At least not me. But I like to call it creative disorder.) :D

  10. "The Morning Gift" is an excellent book - the first one that I read by Diana Norman aka Ariana Franklin. Old but well worth searching out.

  11. Thanks, Sarah! I thought it odd, but if she has been ill that explains it!

  12. RLLaFever's female assassin books sound intriguing. What, not out yet?? Waiting? /sigh.

    I'll have to read Four Sisters, All Queens, I so enjoyed Nancy Goldstone's non fiction account of them in her Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters That Ruled Europe.

  13. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Jane Shore - wasn't she featured in Vanora Bennett's FIGURES IN SILK? Part of the micro-trend towards the Wars of the Roses novels?

    Sarah Other Librarian

  14. You're right - Jane Shore was in Bennett's novel. It focused on her fictional sister, Isabel, though it told some of Jane's story, too.