Friday, October 25, 2013

Finding Sheba, by H.B. Moore


Ok, so here's the thing. I have an enormous amount of respect for authors who can do a ton of research for a novel and then weave it in seamlessly without it sounding like one enormous info dump. I knew I was going to be wowed by H.B. Moore's Finding Sheba, and I was not disappointed.

This is the description from Amazon:
"An ancient legend is reborn . . . One that might prove the Bible false. 
For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba as only a seductive legend, and scholars have debated over the legitimacy of King David or King Solomon. When undercover Israeli agent, Omar Zagouri, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem he unknowingly finds the final clue that threatens to overthrow government claim to the Holy Land, pits wealthy collectors against one another, and sends ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. An assassination attempt on the Coptic Pope, His Holiness, Patriarch Stephanus II, is only the first in the chain of lethal crimes. Omar must find a way to prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly."

The story has four subplots that run simultaneously. At the core of it all is the Queen of Sheba herself, Nicaula, and her story unfolds anciently as we then blend into our modern sub-plots, which include:

  • Jade, the grad student, whose professor has been murdered and she is working with handsome Frenchman, Luc, to uncover the secret behind the professor's murder--that he knew where the Queen of Sheba is buried. This information has the potential to wreak havoc all over the world because many countries lay claim to her.
  • Alem is an Ethopian native whose grandmother believes they are descendants of the Queen of Sheba and he goes to a dig in Oman to see if he can't prove for himself that it's true. While there, he crosses paths with--
  • Omar Zagouri, an undercover agent who is working with Mia, his former girlfriend, to keep all the governments looking into the Queen of Sheba's burial place on the up-and-up. 
Now. There are layers within layers in this complex but readable book, and I'm not going to give any spoilers. It is a satisfying read on so many levels, for those who appreciate intrigue and political suspense, romance and personal relationships, and a delicious premise that could have implications and ripples that would change religions, cultures, history itself.

I have long admired Heather Moore's ability to spin a good yarn while infusing fascinating historical facts and settings that are believable and rich. Her knowledge of the Middle East is clear, and if I didn't know she has visited many times, I would assume she has. There's something wonderful about being in the hands of a master storyteller, and a smart one, to boot. You can be a reader who knows next to nothing about the Middle East and all of its complex history, or you can be an expert on the subject, and either way, you will come away from this read satisfied. 

I give this book two thumbs up and tip my hat to the author. As a contemporary who has spent a fair amount of time conducting research of my own, I admire her abilities and talents with healthy envy. :-)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Timeless Romance Anthology--European Collection!


I have a historical novella coming out in November in the Timeless Romance Anthology and I'm so excited! My story is set in Venice and I've had so much fun writing it. Here's a link to the site:  http://timelessromanceanthologies.blogspot.com/
And I'm in good company--also featured in this collection are: Heather Moore, Sarah Eden, Annette Lyon, Michelle Paige, and G.G. Vandagriff.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A major award!


I've received word that Isabelle Webb: The Grecian Princess, has been nominated for a Whitney Award! The awards take place in May each year, and so far, all three Isabelle books have been nominated. I'm so glad that this one wasn't forgotten, because Isabelle has been with me for a long time. She made an appearance in my first Civil War book (A House Divided) and just about took over the entire series. She was one of many (many!) characters, and she came to life as soon as I did research on Pinkerton and realized he employed women spies. When that four-volume series ended, Isabelle was my breath of fresh air. I needed to write something light and fun, so I sent Isabelle and her young friend, Sally, to India, where they met a handsome American who was looking for his missing brother...

And then they went to Egypt in The Pharaoh's Daughter, where they made more friends and had more danger and much romance ensued.

And then, they went to Greece to finish off the mystery/Indiana Jones-esque running around. With still more romance ensuing.

By the time I was finally reaching the end of Grecian Princess, I was ready to be done with the series and decided to throw rocks at my characters. (Advice from Josi Kilpack, who not only throws rocks at her characters, she dips them in hot lava first. The characters and the rocks.) I started hucking really big rocks around--people got shot, stabbed, poisoned, beat up, feverishly sick and nearly drowned. I felt the power of the pen and it was delicious! I was ready to kill them all!

And then there were two parts that had me in tears. Without giving too much away, there's a point in that third book when Isabelle finally breaks. And it broke my heart. The girl is tough--she's been to hell and back--and seeing her suffer was hard, and it surprised me. (Don't worry--it's a romance. It all ends well.) And I cried again when I wrote the last line. I've known Isabelle Webb for 12 years, and as much as I thought I was sick of her and ready to kiss her goodbye with a big smack, I realized how much I've loved her and the adventures she got to experience. She has been so much fun, and I miss her.

So yay for Isabelle and her third nomination! It should be stated here that the other two times I lost, I lost to good friends and people I admire, so this really hasn't been a bitter thing for me. I'm just so glad that Isabelle gets one more chance to shine.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Update

Busy, busy, busy, but it's all with good things!

1. Shopping Beauty and the Clockwork Beast around to agents as we speak. It's generating interest, so I'm hopeful. It's a New Adult Steampunk Romance with a Jane Eyre/Gothic/fairy tale feel. Very fun.

2. Working right now on a Regency for my publisher, Covenant Communications. The project is tentatively titled Miss Carlisle Weds a Sailor. Loving it and can't wait to see it as a finished product!

3. Also working on another project that is, for now, a secret. :-) Secrets are fun.

4. Outlining the 2nd book in the Steampunk series--this one has a Rumpelstiltskin vibe. Plus ghosts and gadgets and gears and undead things thrown in for good measure. This project features two characters that are in Clockwork Beast, but it's a spin-off, not necessarily a sequel.

5. Beginning stages of a New Adult novella series that will be released on Kindle--I'll update with more news as that progresses, but they'll be fun, quick reads for teens and adults alike. (New Adult is a coming-of-age-into-adulthood, post high school kind of read and crosses all genres.)

I'm also still freelance editing--see my editing site for info about manuscript evals, etc. (www.campbellallen.blogspot.com)

I'm heading to a writers' retreat next weekend and I'm looking forward to the time to just sit and do nothing but write. There are two things I never saw coming as a teenager. 1) I never dreamed I'd one day make a living as a writer. Ok, maybe I dreamed it, but I didn't dare linger on it too much. Hardly practical, after all. And 2) I never dreamed I'd see the day when a Weekend Away would involve doing nothing but sitting in one spot, and not only that, but that I'd look forward to it like such a nerd! I also never dreamed there would come a day when I'd even consider leaving the house without makeup on, but that one came to fruition closely following the birth of my first child. My apologies to all who have, on more than one occasion, had to look at my plain face.

It's been a bit since I've updated any of my blogs so I do feel compelled to tell those who care for me that I am still a fan of the Diet Coke. There's just no getting around it. I try to leave it behind and it sucks me back in. (Cue Godfather theme...)

Busy, but happy. Loving my family and my life. :-)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Amazon soon to take over the world!

Holy CRAP. I don't know why this is hitting me in such a big way, but...HOLY CRAP.

"Amazon Buys Goodreads"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Awesome deal!

There's nothing like a good deal--and this is a good one! Faith of our Fathers Volume 1: A House Divided, $2.99 on Kindle for a limited time. :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Writing Evolution. By Nancy Darwin Allen


As much as things change, they also stay the same. I am working on something entirely different than anything I've written before and am enjoying the process so much, but although it's new to me, the love of the craft remains the same. Love it, hate it, highs and lows. Stuck, unstuck. Constipated, diahrr... diarr.. diharreah...NOT constipated. And by that I mean that there are days when the words flow by the thousands and then there are those when I'm happy if I go to bed at night having written only 500.

Over the course of 14 years I've had published: four romantic/adventure novels, a series of four historical novels about the Civil War, and three historical romantic mysteries using a spin-off character from the CW series. Throughout those 14 years I have also given birth, taught preschool, taught 4th grade while hubby went to grad school, babysat, and edited. If life hadn't kept interfering, I like to tell myself I'd have been a more productive writer. But life interfering also has had a way of making me a better writer, has given me more fodder, more insight. A different perspective. 

Some trends have emerged, lately, in my interests and I'm finding my writing following those trends. I'm finishing a very fun gothic steampunk novel with Beauty and the Beast themes and Jane Eyre overtones. The process has flown and I have absolutely loved it. It's the fastest book I've written to date, and I think the fact that it's fresh material has helped. I also used a great portion of K. M. Weiland's suggestions from her book, Outlining Your Novel and that's helped keep me from staring at the blinking cursor in frozen horror.

This new novel of mine will need to find a new home, because it doesn't fit the style my current publisher is looking for. That being said, I have about a dozen ideas for other novels percolating that will be a good fit for them and I'm thrilled to continue that relationship. Covenant took a chance on me when I was so very green and knew so very little about writing. I've worked with some amazing people through the years and I don't take the fact that I'm published for granted. Ever. There was no such thing as self-publishing on a Kindle or Nook 14 years ago, and I do not allow myself to forget that.

I do love, though, that there are so many wonderful options and avenues for authors now. As a reader, I've progressed from a paper-only-purist to a Kindle fanatic. I freak out if I leave the house and my Kindle isn't in my purse. And as a writer, it seems as though the sky's the limit if one approaches it the right way, armed with knowledge and hopefully a good agent who understands the changing nature of the business.

Change seems to be the trend these days--at least with many of my contemporaries. My friend and fellow author, Annette Lyon, also posted today about her own evolution and the fact that her writing path is taking her down a slightly different road, but one she'd really already been on. And even in this new project of mine I'm seeing themes that I always seem to carry with me. I love a good romance, get angry at social injustice, and like everything wrapped up and deposited in a good place by the end. 

I've heard that any given writer will have a style that is as individual as a fingerprint, that even when trying to disguise it, the piece will have certain "tells" that would give her away to a careful observer. I'm sure this is probably true. My voice, while a little more settled in and anchored these days, is also there in my beginning novels and runs through my contemporaries and historicals alike. So indeed, as much as things change, they also stay the same. I find that a favorite author will still be a favorite author, even if he produces a book that maybe wasn't as good for me as the last one he wrote. More often than not, the voice is there. It is the constant. 

So here's to change! And here's to consistency. May they ever remain lovely bedfellows. :-)