Are you ready for this?

Well, friends, “The General’s Wife” will be released in TWO days! I can scarcely believe that come Thursday I will open my computer and see another one of my books available for purchase. It’s nearly unimaginable. It’s been quite the journey. Especially for this book…

once upon a timeMy first novel. Even though this will be my second published novel, this was my first completed novel. This was the first book I plotted out, wrote on, labored over, and wrestled with. I started working on it so long ago, when I was still in college. As I didn’t have the know how or the time to work on it, this novel took years of honing and polishing to become what it is.

query letterMy first query. And though it was not first published, it was the first one I queried. I received a lot of “no responses” and one response that informed me that there was too much “head hopping”. Like I knew what that was. So, I started querying “The Lady Bornekova” and it was accepted for publication and began my road to publication, going to conferences and joining a critique group and learning a TON in a short amount of time. And then I learned what “head hopping” was (switching point of view character within the same scene). And I fixed it. Then “The General’s Wife” was ready to go.

My first go at research. As I had not written anything before, I had never been involved in the kind of research I would need for writing historical fiction. And I have come to find out that unique type of research I need for each book is different. This novel takes place in a real period in history, but almost all of the characters and events are fictional (the Pharaoh and his Queen are based on the actual Ptolemy II and Queen Arsinoe) – so I had a lot of creative leeway. Another of my books, “Trail of Fears” involves more real people that actually lived as well as real events, requiring a whole different level of research.

I imagine that each book of mine that I am blessed enough to have published will be unique for its own reasons. These are just a few of the reasons why “The General’s Wife” is singled out for me. Of course, with so many “firsts” it will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

Books, books, everywhere!

I am in a state of being overwhelmed. There is so much to do! As always, I have the house, the kids, you know…life. But my list of “to do’s” with my books keeps growing…

TheLadyBornekova1400x2100The Lady BornekovaThe book has been out now for a couple of months and I am excited to see some numbers come next month (the end of the quarter). It has been a wild ride, has it not? But I have very much enjoyed being on this journey with you and sharing these steps that went into making up this road.

The General’s WifeNow through one of three editors, “The General’s Wife” is well into the process toward publication. I am eagerly anticipating the “fun stuff”…you know, the book cover, the banners, the other things that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and give you goose bumps. But this part of the process can be fun too – watching your work of art being honed and fine tuned.

cripple creekHope in Cripple CreekAs many of you know, I recently attended a huge conference, the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Dallas. It was phenomenal! While there, I had the opportunity to pitch this novel to an agent. She was interested and wanted to see the full manuscript. But suggested some tweeks in the first and second chapters. Plus, I am still folding in feedback from my Beta Readers. All in all, it needs some TLC.

Trail of Fears This novel also got pitched to two interested agents. One wanted a proposal and sample chapters and the other the_trail_of_tearswanted a synopsis and sample chapters (different agents just want different things). The second agent seemed a lot more interested, she said the novel was “hitting all the right notes”. Overall, the agent meetings went well and I came out well pleased.

The Lady Bornekova’s Sequel. I know several of you have asked about the sequel. I’m well on my way into the novel. But, as you can see, there are many projects in the pipeline, so to speak. And I want to make sure I have the time and energy to focus on this work undistracted. These characters have become so near and dear to my heart (as all my characters really are) and I want to do them justice.

brainstormingThat just leaves one novel, “Off to War”. I just recently finished folding in my Beta Reader feedback and have one more to go. So, it’s sitting and “resting” for now. I mean, it’s not as if I don’t have enough to keep me busy. I also have another project in research mode and will be trying some new organizing and brainstorming methods I learned at the conference with this next project.

At any rate, that’s me. I hope as we head into fall, you are enjoying the weather and decorations we are seeing pop up on porches and in living rooms around us. My home was filled with the enticing smell of pumpkin bread yesterday. Yes, it is fall here too.

Gearing up for another conference…

Well, here we go again…I’m gearing up for another conference. Another pitch to an agent, another round of classes about marketing and craft and publishing, another round of presenters and panels, a whole new set of authors to network with…a whole new batch of things on my to do list…

bob mayer's bookRead Bob Mayer’s “Writer’s Conference Guide: Getting the Most Out of Your Time and Money” Now, this will be my third conference. So, why am I needing a book about making the most out of a conference? Shouldn’t I know that by now? Well, I thought it would be good to see if I could learn something from an expert. Bob Mayer has been to many, many conference both as an attendee and as a presenter. He has seen it from both sides. There are definitely things I can learn from him. And I did learn as I read the book. I feel much more prepared and better organized going in. I would recommend this book to anyone. I mean, you’re paying quite a bit in some cases to go to a conference, I would spend the $2 on the kindle version of this book to get the most out of that higher price tag conference. And this one coming up is MUCH bigger than the previous two I went to.

Preparing Synopses. I plan to have synopses for my remaining un-contracted, un-published pieces so that if I run across an interested agent/editor, I can hand them one. But they can always use polishing. So that’s something I need to get to. A synopsis is basically a summary of the main storyline of your novel. And, yes, in most cases it is a spoiler in that it gives away the whole storyline including the ending. You need to be willing to give away all your secrets when you meet with an agent/editor. I have heard authors/others in the publishing industry refer to a long blurb of your book as a synopsis, but usually synopsis (or FULL synopsis) refers to this full-length, all of the story given away kind of thing.

A baseball player pitching with spin on the ball. (motion blur on ball)

Getting My Pitch Ready. I have had very successful pitching experiences thus far. And have learned a lot from them. So, not only am I applying what I learned from those agents, I am learning from the “First Timers Loop”. I’m actually going to the ACFW Conference. A really big conference. And because it is so big (read “intimidating”), they have a e-mail group called “First Timers Loop” where they share all kinds of helpful information on writing synopses, packing, pitching and whatnot. There’s even been someone willing to look at our elevator pitches and critique them. (For the non-writers or newbie writers out there, an “elevator pitch” is a 1-3 sentence pitch you can ideally deliver as you ride an elevator three floors.)

Writing a Cover Letter. This is not my strong suit. I hate cover letters. But a couple of the agents I requested appointments with require them. So, I’ll gear up and smile and trudge on, learning as I go. A cover letter goes in front of your query or writing sample when you submit to an agent either through the mail or via e-mail or, apparently, in person even. It contains information such as a pitch for your book, word count, genre, target audience, info about you (the author), and the like. Of course, with all the niceties you learned in business class – “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Whoever, Thank you for your time….Sincerely….”

packingPutting my packing list together. I am the definition of an over-packer. Seriously. Ask anyone. I’m really trying not to do that as I will be flying to Dallas and don’t want to overload my suitcase. But there is so much I have to take for the conference…like an evening dress for the Gala, a dress for the Genre dinner (dress like you stepped out of one of your books…that’s right, folks, I’m dressing in a Medieval dress, just like I stepped out of “The Lady Bornekova”).

So, what are you pitching? I am pitching “Trail of Fears” again. It is my most recent work and so the one I am most in the right head space for. Still, I plan to reread it again before the conference as I haven’t read it for some time. So, I’ll make sure to take all my stuff on “Trail of Fears”, a smile, and my winning personality 🙂

All in all, I’m pretty excited about the conference. I just need to get through the bulk of the work to get ready while still being mindful to work on “The General’s Wife” as it’s being slated for publication and I don’t want that date to slide at all. I’m in pre-edits for that book right now. So, I need to keep up. Wish me luck!!

News and Updates!

blog tourHey, everyone! The virtual tour officially kicks off TODAY! I am super excited! I hope you will hang with me for the tour. You can keep up with the tour schedule here: Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours or check my Twitter (@sarat1701) or Facebook Author page (Sara R. Turnquist) for daily updates on where I “am” in the virtual world. I will tell you that today’s posting will have a giveaway entry. So, you want to be a part of that for sure!

Pre-order your copy of the “The Lady Bornekova”! Also, you may have noticed that “The Lady Bornekova” is now available for pre-order! There is a buy link to amazon on the left side of this page for your convenience.

Where are the rest of the books? I was just working on that this morning, organizing and planning out where each of the books are in their processes. So, the information is as follows:

bookThe General’s Wife” – Pre-edits are done and it’s ready to be queried. This is an exciting thing for me as this was the first book I wrote. How long do I wait to query after “The Lady Bornekova” has been published? I don’t know. Is this even the next book to try to query? I don’t know. So, those are some questions that need answered before I make a next move.

“Off to War” – I am currently about a third of the way through the book with pre-edits and is with my last Beta Reader. So, I’ll gather her feedback and fold in those edits along with what I’m already doing and prepare to query this book. Also, I’m kind-of thinking this book may need a new title. Any suggestions? I am open to anyone who has suggestions after reading through the description of the book (just click on “Off to War” and you should be directed to the description).

“Hope in Cripple Creek” – Finally has a name! It, too is with Beta Readers. It will be the next book I go after for pre-edits.

“Trail of Fears” – Much the same as the previous book. It is with the first Beta Reader and is third on the list for me to get into editing. This one and “Hope in Cripple Creek” are a little “light” for Historical Fiction, so I need to think of adding some length to these two in particular. I do think it’s easier to add length than to cut though.

Backlogs. I’m thinking as you read this that you might think it’s normal for writers to have such a backlog. From my understanding, it’s not normal for newbies to have such an extensive backlog. I met with an agent a couple of weeks ago and pitched “Trail of Fears”. She responded positively to it and asked if I had anything else. Yes, yes I do. We spent the next several minutes going over my other unpublished works. She commented on how prolific I was (cue blushing and shy smile – I don’t do well with compliments). The agent seemed rather pleased with what she heard and wanted me to send her the synopses for these unpublished works. And so I did. A week ago. So, now I’m ever so patiently (or at least attempting patience) playing the waiting game.

question markWhat’s next? Oh my goodness. With the blog tour and the book coming out, plus kids and home, I barely have time to breathe. Add in there the occasional day I get some of those pre-edits in and then the days I make myself sit down and read (not because I don’t like it – I am an avid reader, I have to make myself because I’m so busy, but EVERY writer/author should continue to read as part of learning their craft). But I cannot not write. I cannot stop my brain from coming up with new ideas. So, I have ideas for not one, but two new books. So, the main character’s name (this is how all my books are titled until I come up with an actual title) is staring down at me with the words “research” and “outline” underneath for each of the two on the board above my desk. I don’t want to say too much in case the ideas fall through, but I will say that one is a sequel to one of the books I’ve already written. Yes, one of the stories just has more to tell. The characters have more to grow and develop.

So that, my friends, is that. This is what’s going on with me. How are you?

 

It takes a village…

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My office today.

Today I’m coming to you from Disney’s Polynesian Resort! My family is on vacation and are enjoying Central FL. Today in particular, my husband and I are having a writing date at the Polynesian Resort, followed by lunch at the Kona Cafe (in about an hour). So, this is my office today. It’s nice to get out and have a change of scenery. It’s also been nice to be away away from the kiddos for a writing date. It gives me a chance to really sit and think.

So, as I sit and think over my journey, I’m coming to realize all of the people that go into making a book happen. And all the more as I’m working on subsequent novels. Let’s see if we can go through the list…

Writer – First there’s me, the writer. Story’s gotta come from somewhere, right? The writer has to first be inspired to write. Do we write what we know? Sometimes. Probably more often than we admit. But I, in particular, have a Biology degree and experience in Sleep Medicine and Zoo Education and I write Historical Fiction with meaningful romances….go figure. But I have developed a great love of history and historical places as I have traveled and do a ton of research as I write.

Beta Readers – Next come in my Beta Readers. These are friends with whom I share my work and accept very valid feedback from. One of my beta readers is an avid reader of many different types of books. She is invaluable for helping make sure the reading is “smooth” for the reader and makes sense. She also helps give me feedback on speaking in the time period. She does have a History degree 🙂 Another Beta Reader has an English degree. She is great for content feedback and telling me where the story needs to expand and where story lines have been left a little thin. My other Beta Reader is also my Proofreader. She is great for grammar, commas (My name is Sara and I have a comma problem), and other types of story feedback. They are each so valuable to me…my novels are what they are because of these three ladies. Can’t forget my sounding board, faithful hubs, though. He is great and wonderful at giving instant feedback.

Critique Group/Critique Partner – I also attend a writing group in my hometown where we share scenes and receive and give regular feedback. Our fearless leader has just critiqued the first four chapters of Trail of Fears in detail to prepare it for submission to the agent I met at the writer’s conference last week. Her thoughts and suggestions are priceless to me. She is also an author who has published and is currently working on her next book. Hubs and I just love, love, love our critique group. The folks involved are so talented. It is a highlight of our week.

EditorsEditors only make your work stronger (I can say that about everyone else too), but I strongly encourage you to keep this in mind about editors. So far, The Lady Bornekovaon it’s way to publication,  has been through three editors (and I think that’s it…I hope). A content editor (who examines character and story believability, continuity, etc), a line editor (who is more concerned with grammar, did you use the right word, is there a better word, etc), and a proofing editor (I haven’t gotten those edits back yet, so I’m in the dark about what that editor’s specific job is).

Publisher – Of course you need the publisher! But I will say that I have particularly enjoyed working with my publisher. Any time I have a question or just need some reassurance about something, I can shoot my publisher an e-mail and she gets back to me in a day or two. She is great!

Agent – I don’t have one yet. But I pitched Trail of Fears to an agent at the writer’s conference and he wants more information from me (yay!). I am still researching why I would need an agent since I am already “in” with a publisher who likes my writing and, so far, I have a good working relationship with. Agents know the ins and outs of contracts in a way authors just don’t. They can also open more doors than I as a writer can. So, I’m still thinking on it.

Marketing Team – In today’s world, more of the marketing is on the author’s shoulders. The Publisher will do some of the marketing, but some of it is left up to me. For me, I’ll be going on a Virtual Book Tour (Blog Tour) this summer!!! I am using a Blog Tour service, for example, to assist me with setting up the blogs and tour package stuff. More on this service and the blog tour to come!!

And I know I’m forgetting someone…or some people. There are Mentors and those who run Writer’s Conferences and those who share their nuggets of wisdom at said conferences to name a few. It really does take a village to raise an author. Not to even mention all of you who inspire characters and add to the life experiences of writers that make them who they are and contribute to their works. So, keep being funny, dramatic, melancholy, inspiring….you.

On the Trail of Tears

trail of tears photo

A portion of the trail at Port Royal State Park

Today I spent several hours on the original Trail of Tears. Some of the trail was spent in a vehicle, some was spent walking. All of it was spent with a voice recorder in my hand (someone else was driving). It was an amazing experience to see so much of the trail and to actually take the time to walk on part of the trail. For those of you that live in the Springfield/Clarksville/Adams area, there is a pretty good route that goes from South Coopertown Road in Springfield, TN to Port Royal in Adams, TN that will take you down a bit of the original trail. We ended our journey at the Port Royal State Park which has a walking trail on a portion of the original trail. Apparently, Port Royal was not only one of the sites through which the Cherokee walked, it was also one of the places where they stopped overnight.

All day, I kept thinking “so much history, right here beneath my feet…”. I was certainly inspired by what I saw and experienced today, but I am, admittedly seeing it all in the wrong season. The Cherokee were forced to walk this trail during the dead of winter. I was seeing it in the height of spring. And it was beautiful. The trees formed a lovely canopy over the road, a nice spring breeze blew through the car with our windows down, with the fragrances of spring rich in the air. Wildflowers and wildlife accompanied and highlighted our journey. But this would not have been what they experienced. All the Cherokee would have seen would have been bareness and death. The death inherent in the winter of nature, and the death surrounding their people along the way.

trail of tears original routeAll in all, today was an education and I think the book (the work in progress, “Trail of Fears”) will be all the better for it. It was something to just feel, to just be in the places where my characters would have been. To set foot on the places where their feet would have walked. To walk beside the same river and cliff face that they would have looked at on their journey into the unknown. I only hope I can do it…do them justice.

 

When writing Historical Fiction hurts

cherokee-indianI didn’t expect it to be so hard. That’s what I said to my husband just moments ago. I’m deep into my newest work “Trail of Fears”. Which, for those of you who haven’t been following my blog, it is a Historical Fiction set around the events of the Trail of Tears. And I warn you, I’m going to share more about this novel than I probably should. But here goes…

I am following the plight of the Cherokee in this novel. And I have written a good portion of the novel following the events from the passing of the Indian Removal Act to the actual forcible removal of the Cherokee (which happens eight years later). And I am struggling to write the events that followed. The Native Americans were forced from their homes at gunpoint, had to watch as their homes were plundered and burned to the ground, moved into concentration camps before they were sent on an approximately 1,000 mile journey that would be known as the Trail of Tears. And on this journey, as many of you know, thousands died. They died from exposure to the winter weather (as they were not afforded proper supplies), they became sick, some were murdered along the way…

I’m finding it all incredibly difficult to write. It just hurts my heart that these things happened. How? How am I to do something like this justice?

But I have a story to tell. I was inspired to tell this story by my own exposure to these facts and to my being on and around the place where the trail came through not far from my home. I want people to know what happened. I mean, it happened so long ago, but it is a piece of our history. It’s practically in my backyard. And if we ignore history because it’s uncomfortable for us or we gloss over the atrocities that happened because they’re inconvenient for us…what does that say about who we are? At any rate, that’s for you to decide.

As for me, I’ll plunge into this headfirst, knowing that this story must be told.