Jennifer's Journal


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

November - December

Greetings to all:


Big changes have been in the wind here in these last weeks of the year.  This newsletter covers a two month period due to the delay while I awaited results.  You may remember from the October newsletter that my editor had accepted my proposal for a Three Graces trilogy set in late 1840s New Orleans.  Shortly after that, the publishing house held its quarterly sales meeting.  A presentation at this meeting revealed that books set in Europe sell better than those which take place in the States.  The upshot was a call from my agent.  My editor wanted to know if I could possibly transfer my trilogy across the pond to England.


Now flash back to April of this past year.  At the Romantic Times conference in Pittsburgh that month I, along with author-friends Bertrice Small and Roberta Gellis, conducted a workshop on using historical research.  To illustrate how to include facts without plagiarizing the source material, we each took a paragraph about the pele towers of Tudor England and wrote a few pages of a story around one.  When I read the pages I had created, everyone shouted out for the rest of the book.  Bertrice and Roberta then hounded me for the remaining days of conference, urging that I write this tale.  I was intrigued and excited by the response, but had a deadline looming.  Besides, I had long been typecast as a Louisiana author.  Now here, when least expected, was an opportunity to do that Tudor story.  It seemed meant to be.  The answer, then, was yes, I was interested in doing books that take place in historical England.


But changing my Three Graces plots to a different setting was another matter.  They simply could not be made to fit into the court of the first Tudor king, Henry VII.  I needed a crash course in early Tudor mores, manners and daily life to grasp the times well enough to concoct stories.  Over the past month and half, then, I've read more than two dozen historical tomes, constructed a huge research file and Tudor timeline, and scoured the internet for facts, biographies of important figures and more books to read.  As I worked, a new trilogy slowly took shape in my mind.  The proposal for this set of stories, taking place in 1486 England and using sisters known as the "accursed Three Graces of Graydon", was written and submitted.  That proposal has now been accepted, and I'm writing Chapter 2 of "By His Majesty's Grace", the working title of the first of the three stories.  Regardless, it will be 2011 before this new trilogy appears on the shelves.  My Masters at Arms series will continue through 2010.  Then the plan is to "warehouse" the Tudor manuscripts, holding them at the publishing house until the last one is completed.  At that time, they will be brought out in fast sequence, one per month for three months in a row.


Though working in this new time period is not as easy as writing about antebellum New Orleans, where I have countless details on tap in memory, it's certainly energizing.  I'm fascinated by all the bits and pieces I've discovered, and can't wait to put them on paper with the exciting tale that's unfolding.  Part of having a long career as a writer—particularly through trying economic times—is being willing to change with the needs of the market, to cooperate with agents and editors, and to find the wellspring of joy in creating stories no matter where they take place.  I hope all of you will bear with me through this transition.


But what about the original New Orleans Graces, you might ask?  I haven't abandoned them; I actually have seven chapters written on the first book.  Stories haunt me until they are put on paper, and so the first book, at least, will be finished one day.  I just don't know when as I'll be completing a book every nine months over the next couple of years!


Meanwhile, please accept my warmest wishes for all that's lovely and bright in the holiday season that's upon us.  I have a small surprise planned for you later in the month, so I'll talk with you again before long.





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