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First chapter of Lady Blade up on wattpad

First chapter of Lady Blade up on wattpad

Perhaps it doesn’t seem that way, after all, the struggle continues to get my work out there, but the more I think about it, the more I find to be thankful for.

First and foremost, I’m thankful that I have the sort of imagination that can transport me to other time periods and other worlds, whether it be aboard a pirate ship in the Caribbean, or a fencing salle in Tuscany. I’m thankful for the characters in my novel who took me places I hadn’t originally intended to go. It was a long and crooked road and I’m glad I had the chance to walk it.

I’m thankful for my husband who gives me the time and space to write and listens patiently to my frustrations. I’m thankful that every day when I get out of bed I know I get another chance to be creative. And I’m thankful for the men and women in my writer’s groups whose honest and constructive criticism, though at times tough to hear, has made Lady Blade what it is today and has made me a much better writer.

I’m thankful for my agent, Frank, who hasn’t given up on me or Lady Blade, no matter how many “nos” he’s heard.

I’m thankful for modern technology which has made writing and editing a helluva lot easier and allows me, with minimal effort, to learn  about the past, from how to splice a rope aboard ship, to how to jump a horse riding side-saddle. And I’m thankful that I’m living today, with modern conveniences like refrigeration and health care, instead of in the past that I love writing about.

And I’m thankful for the changing publishing industry which gives authors more possibilities for publishing. Even in I don’t find a publisher, I’m thankful that Lady Blade can still find an audience.

And I’m thankful for all the people who have enjoyed my “Pirate Word of the Day” and listened to me ramble on this blog.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

C. J.

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Read the first chapter on wattpad

Read the first chapter on wattpad

I was going to call this an idiot’s tale. Because that’s probably what I am. I can’t seem to let this story go and just move on to something else. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. On the one hand, I may be beating the proverbial dead horse, on the other hand, they say that persistence wins. So when exactly does persistence turn into foolishness? I wish I knew.

But I should start at the beginning.

I first wrote Lady Blade as a screenplay back in the early 2000s. In the craziness after 9/11 my glass business and my freelance web design business had dried up and I was out of work for a year.  I’d done some writing as a kid and actually had a book published while I was in college so I figured, what the heck, maybe it’s time to try again.

It took me a few years,  fourteen drafts, and a screenwriter’s group to learn how to write a decent screenplay. And Lady Blade won some awards, including a critique from Linda Seger, who said she thought it was very sellable. So I was hooked.  I seemed to have found my niche. Visions of dollar signs danced in my head.

But as many of you know, writing and selling are two different things. I sent the script out to producers and agents with no luck. I wrote a couple other screenplays but always seemed to go back to Lady Blade to tinker some more. Eventually I found an agent, Frank and he started sending it out. The response was always the same. We love it, but we pass. It’s too expensive to make. (To be fair, there are sea battles and whole towns destroyed so yes, it would be expensive.)

So it occurred to me that while there are only a handful of big budget movies made a year, there are probably thousands of books that get published.  And the price for a book is the same no matter how many towns you burn to the ground. Besides, if the book was popular, getting the movie made would be a slam dunk. So I set off on a five-year mission to write Lady Blade, the novel.

It was a steep learning curve. I mean, screenplays and books have very little in common besides plot. I had to relearn how to write. But, five years, two writer’s groups and a professional editor later I had a good book ready to go. Again, Lady Blade did well in a few contests. A quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel completion and finalist in the San Francisco Writer’s Convention contest – I’m still waiting to hear on some others.

So I sent it out to literary agents and waited, and more literary agents and waited… You get the picture. Moving on to plan B, I had my screen agent send it out to a few publishers and that’s where it is now. Again with the waiting.

Which brings us to the “back again” part. During the course of rewriting Lady Blade the screenplay as a novel the story had changed. Not drastically, but enough that I feel the need to go back and bring the screenplay up to date. On top of that, I got this funny little notion in my head that perhaps a graphic novel could will bring Francesca to life and those usually begin with a screenplay.

So here I am, on my continuing mission, re-learning how to write yet again. (A screenplay is 120 pages. Roughly a page per minute of screen time. The novel is 600 pages – double spaced. Cramming the one into the other is a journey in itself. But I’ll talk more about that next week.)

I’ve been working on Lady Blade in one form or another for over a decade. I believe in my main character, Francesca. I think this is a great story and I want to see it told to a wide audience. Whether that’s foolishness or dogged persistence, I guess that’s up to you to decide.

Thanks for listening,

C. J.

P.S. The first chapter of Lady Blade, as well as two short stories about Francesca are available to read free on wattpad.

My Brave Girl

Francesca and the Baron’s Son

Lady Blade – Chapter One

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ladybladechap1coverHi Everyone,

I’m trying to forget the fact that two publishers have agreed to read my novel. I hope that by telling you I can put it out of my mind for a while. We’ll see if it works.

First off, many thanks to my amazing agent Frank for unleashing Lady Blade upon those unsuspecting publishers – who will remain nameless in the hopes of not jinxing it.

I am, of course, grateful for the opportunity – but it is also agonizing. I’ve had a low-grade headache for days now since Frank told me. You know, the little annoying ache brought on from a slight tightness in the shoulders and jaw from knowing at this very moment someone might be reading your work and either  sighing or smiling. The feeling that your future rests in others’ hands our of your control.

I know that’s not true. If they say “no” life will go on. Frank and I will find other publishers to try, and failing that, I will self-publish. I even like the control that self-publishing offers these days, though I know that I could use the marketing help a large publisher could provide. So I tell myself it’s no big deal either way. But the headache continues.

Part of it is the waiting. I’m not good at it. I know it’s part of the job and comes with the territory, but I don’t have to like it. One major publisher debated for six months, going back and forth and giving it to more people to read before they finally said no. I’m hoping we’ll get quicker replies either way this time, but who knows.

Anyway, I’m done bellyaching about my good fortune. I’m such an ingrate. Thanks for listening.

If you’d like to read the first chapter it is free to read on Wattpad: Lady Blade – Chapter One

Now I’m forgetting all about it and getting back to work.

C. J.

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Read the first chapter on wattpad

Read the first chapter on wattpad

Hi Everyone,

Some good news.

First, my short story/prologue, My Brave Girl now has over 100 reads on Wattpad. I’m gratified to see that so many people are enjoying it.

My short story, Francesca and the Baron’s Son has 44 reads and the first chapter of Lady Blade, which I just put up 6 days ago is already at 36 reads.

They are free to read so check them out if you haven’t already:

My Brave Girl

Francesca and the Baron’s Son

Lady Blade – Chapter One

Second, and I don’t want to jinx it here, but I’ve got a publisher reading Lady Blade as we speak. Fingers crossed.

Thanks everyone!

C. J.

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Hi Friends,

Blue Train Books Historical Fiction Section

Blue Train Books Historical Fiction Section (Photo credit: Blue Train Books)

I just read a cute article I found on the Historical Fiction Daily. It’s called Wait, historical fiction is doomed? When did this happen? In it the author quotes an article she read that says that we should just let historical fiction die.

Hmmm. You can try I suppose. But like the author says, a good story is a good story no matter what time or place it’s set in.

To be honest, I didn’t set out to write a historical fiction. That was the last thing on my mind. I love pirates. After all, they’re the rock stars of their time. And I loved reading about Sir Francis Drake and his adventures.  I had a story to tell and I told it, and people have suggested I put it in the historical fiction genre after the fact. If you took away the historical fiction genre then it would be an action/adventure. Although it could be young adult. And it has a love triangle so you could call it a romance.  The film version of LADY BLADE is an action/adventure since there is no real historical fiction genre. I suppose you could call the movie script a period piece, but those tend to be a bit slower moving. Personally I like the term swashbuckler. So where is the bookstore section for swashbucklers?

I think we do a disservice to readers by forcing books into narrow categories. Although, I  admit, I don’t have a better suggestion on how readers are going to find what they’re looking for in the bookstore. Still, curtailing or shoehorning a story to fit a genre can diminish a story and books that cross too many genre lines often have trouble attracting a publisher, no matter the merit of the story. I’ve run into that myself.

I suppose that is the beauty of self-publishing. You can cross all the genre lines you like without being punished or ignored. Readers can find you by keywords on-line instead of by genre in the bookstore. But with so many self-published books to sift through, how do they find you at all?

Anyway, I hope historical fiction isn’t quite dead yet. I’ve still got a story or two to tell and they include tall ships, swords, and cannons.

C. J.

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