Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THE FORGOTTEN QUEEN -synopsis

One of the most intriguing yet most overlooked figures of the Tudor age—Margaret, Queen of Scotland, daughter of Henry VII, and sister to Henry VIII—comes to vivid life in a stunning novel of love and ambition, from the acclaimed author of The Sumerton Women. From her earliest days, Margaret Tudor knows she will not have the luxury of choosing a husband. Her duty is to gain alliances for England. Barely out of girlhood, Margaret is married by proxy to James IV and travels to Edinburgh to become Queen of Scotland. Despite her doubts, Margaret falls under the spell of her adopted home. But while Jamie is an affectionate husband, he is not a faithful one. And nothing can guarantee Margaret’s safety when Jamie leads an army against her own brother, Henry VIII. In the wake of loss she falls prey to an ambitious earl and brings Scotland to the brink of anarchy. Beset by betrayal and secret alliances, Margaret has one aim—to preserve the crown of Scotland for her son, no matter what the cost… Coming in February, 2013 from Kensington Publishing!

Monday, October 31, 2011

THE SUMERTON WOMEN: a synopsis

Look for THE SUMERTON WOMEN, available from Kensington Publishing on April 24th, 2012 at your local bookseller, or pre-order from amazon.com! . . . . When Cecily Burkhart is orphaned at age eight, she becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl Sumerton, and finds herself surrounded by a family as endearing as they are complex. There is Lord Hal and Lady Grace, who both nurse a secret pain behind a fa├žade of wealth and excess, their son, the innocent young Brey, and their daughter, the devout and intense Mirabella. There is also Father Alec Cahill, loving tutor and mentor, who maintains an unblemished exterior to disguise a secret of his own. After a string of traumatic events befall Sumerton, everything changes. Old dreams die to be replaced with new plans. Cecily must learn to adapt to a different life, a different love, and hold together a household fractured by tragedy. Meantime Mirabella struggles to adjust to the violent changes being made in Henry VIII’s England, changes that will rob her of her calling. Grief-stricken, Mirabella reshapes her life by embarking on a sequence of choices that threatens to destroy the lives of everyone around her unless she learns to accept one vital truth. This fast-paced character study is a poignant illustration of the ties that bind women and the tragedies that tear them apart. It is a saga of faith tested, of loyalty and betrayal, of resentment and forgiveness. Above all, THE SUMERTON WOMEN is a novel about the choices people make that alter lives forever.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Miniseries in My Mind: Why I Write Historical Fiction

At first when it came to my attention that some have coined my works as “soap opera-y”, I was mildly offended. Upon further reflection, I then realized, though they may have intended it as a burn, my work DOES resemble a soap opera! When I think of the impact soaps have had on the history of dramatic work, such as All My Children, the cancellation of which caused quite a stir among fans, I could not help but revise my view of this opinion. Many people love drama, not because it is unrealistic, but because it captures reality in an emotional, creative, and often relatable way; drama reflects life. Examining any family, one will see interwoven stories rife with all that makes drama compelling; rivalries, addiction, betrayal, misguided love affairs . . . Some may call it a soap opera, I call it a Tuesday!

I can say with pride I attended the most exclusive film school in the United States, right in my parents' living room. They raised me on classics such as Dr. Zhivago, Gone with the Wind, Camelot, The Lion in Winter, and miniseries such as The Thorn Birds, Roots, and Rich Man, Poor Man. I was enthralled by the scope, the subtleties, and the nuances of the actors that captured emotions in a way today’s film industry only touches upon. We did not just watch movies, we experienced them. With in-depth analysis, discussing the motivations of the characters, the director’s choices, and the theme of films, I was taught a deeper appreciation of the art of drama that would shape my professional life.

Always an avid reader and writer since I could hold a pencil, I longed to capture the kind of emotion I saw in these films, translating it onto paper in a way that would engage a reader’s heart. A miniseries in my mind . . . And so I took to writing in earnest as a teen and into my twenties, when I was at last fortunate enough to secure an agent who shared my vision, landing my first book deal at the age of thirty. My dream of sharing my love of drama, characters, and intensity could at last be shared with the world!

My stage is historical fiction. History for me is a vehicle in which drama and emotion play out in a palatable form—everything is back there waiting to be delved into and experienced. It is not just names and dates, battles and politics. It is the human condition, a tale timeless, transcending any era. SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT and RIVALS IN THE TUDOR COURT (both of Kensington) were character studies of ambition, avarice, jealousy, loss, adultery, abuse, and madness. Historical figures and events provided the framework for my intent, that of translating the weakness and strength that is humanity into a moving, compelling drama. I relied on as much research as was available to me at the time, and continue to learn how to hone those skills along the way to lend more credibility and authenticity to my work. It is an ongoing learning process, and someday I hope when I look at my last work as compared to my first, I will see growth and improvement along the way, not just in my research abilities and the filtering of anachronisms, but in my exploration of the vast gamut of emotion that encompasses the human story.

So enter the miniseries in my mind, if you dare, and let me take you on a journey of the heart and the soul, a journey we all experience—the journey that is life!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Abuse in the Tudor Court

In my works SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT and RIVALS IN THE TUDOR COURT (Kensington Books, May, 2011), I chose to illustrate quite a detailed account of the abuses suffered by the Duchess Elizabeth Howard and the more speculated abuse of her daughter Mary Howard at the hands of the third Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard. Why did I choose to do this? Because I like gory descriptions of another's pain? On the contrary. As a survivor of domestic violence myself, I chose to tell the story in a way that would perhaps at times shock the reader into awareness of the hopelessness of women not only in the 16th century, but the hopeFULness of women of today. In the time period of Duchess Elizabeth and young Mary, there was no help available. Men could do as they pleased as fathers and husbands, and they took full advantage of that, as the Duke of Norfolk's actions illustrates quite well.

In Barbara Harris' intriguing article "Marriage: 16th Century Style" and George Frederick Nott's "Works of Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder"in two volumes, we see firsthand letters the Duchess composed making attempts at seeking help in vain from the Lord Privy Seal Thomas Cromwell, and even appeals to King Henry VIII himself. Ahead of her time, Duchess Elizabeth spoke out when no one else would and though it is unfortunate she was not heard, it speaks of a courage seldom seen in documented early modern history on the part of these amazing women. Sadly, we also see the reaction of her husband the Duke, not unlike reactions of many modern abusers--denial and threats should the abuse be exposed coupled with accusations of her "slander".

Though most would call the story of Duchess Elizabeth tragic, I feel she made a difference with her outspoken cries for help and assistance, showing not only women of her time that women COULD have a voice, but illustrating even more to contemporary women that WE have a voice now.

Seeking help is hard. I know. Women (and men) in abusive relationships feel trapped and live in terror of their abusers. They don't know where to turn. Often isolated and controlled, help seems no where in sight. But there is hope and help. Take that first step. Call a friend, a trusted family member, or clergy person. We have resources today that the poor Duchess and her daughter could only dream of. It is up to us to use them and become survivors, not victims, of our abusers. There can be healing. I am proof of that hope realized.

Attached find some helpful links for study and sharing that may help others reach out for the help I so encourage them finding at:

http://www.thehotline.org/ ... National Domestic Violence Hotline

http://www.wiit.com/?gclid=CNzg06K6_aQCFQod5wodG35RkQ ... The Women's Institute for Incorporation Therapy

We live in a time where we have a voice. Use it loud and use it proud!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RIVALS IN THE TUDOR COURT -synopsis, by D. L. Bogdan- Kensington Books, May, 2011




The death toll in Henry VIII’s England can be counted in the thousands. No one was more aware of this than Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk. Relying on his indomitable force of will, cleverness, and sheer good fortune, Thomas Howard manages to be one of the king’s only intimates to survive an unforgettable reign of terror. This impeccably researched companion piece to SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT chronicles the ambitious duke’s life, loves, and remarkable capacity to endure.
Before he was the king’s uncle, before he was his nieces’ ultimate betrayer, Thomas Howard was a hostage at the court of Henry VII while his father was imprisoned in the dreaded Tower of London. There he would marry the queen’s sister, his forever princess Anne Plantagenet. While he founded a dynasty, his career as soldier and sailor brought him acclaim and the trust of the Tudors. But when unspeakable tragedy robs him of family and fortune, Thomas must begin again.

Abandoning notions of love, Thomas seeks out an advantageous match with the fiery Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of the duke of Buckingham. Clever, willful, and uncompromising in principle, the young duchess falls victim to a love she cannot deny. When Thomas takes on a mistress, the vulnerable Bess Holland, Duchess Elizabeth prepares to fight for all she holds dear. Only then does she learn she faces a force darker than anything she could ever have imagined, an obsessive love that neither she nor Bess can rival.

Told from the perspectives of Thomas Howard, his spirited wife, and beautiful mistress, RIVALS IN THE TUDOR COURT is a riveting drama that sweeps across eight decades and the reigns of six English monarchs. It is the story of innocence lost, of passion that knows no bounds, and of a man battling an enemy even more formidable than the bloodthirsty Henry VIII: himself.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Makes A Heroine?


When we think of heroines, brought to mind are images of Scarlett O'Hara's fiery green eyes or the resilience of Meggie Cleary in THE THORN BIRDS. Where does Mary Howard, a child of abuse who never quite captured a firm grasp on happiness, fit into this myriad of the world's perception of "strong women"? Though my interpretation of Mary Howard yields a perceptive woman, she is not altogether witty, nor is she what contemporary audiences would consider a model of feminist ideals.

I did not choose the life of Mary Howard to illustrate a cliche female lead that against all obstacles saves the day. Mary Howard is a woman I tried to keep in the context of her time, without imposing contemporary values and philosophy on her. Enduring the tyranny of her father the Third Duke of Norfolk and her father-in-law King Henry VIII is a heady task for the strongest women of our day, let alone hers. Mary Howard's life is a portrait of survival. She was an intelligent, talented young woman who dreamed and persevered while maintaining her loyalty and belief in humanity regardless of the despicable betrayals by those closest to her. She may not be the most entertaining; she certainly didn't save a cotton plantation from ruin or inspire a timeless love story. But Mary Howard did not compromise her values despite the manipulations and intrigues that surrounded her. She lived. And to me, that is the mark of a true heroine.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"What? They didn't like it?" How to Handle Tough Critics.

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith.

I can't think of a more appropriate quote to describe the ups and downs of this profession than that! As a newcomer I can't very well give the advice a seasoned veteran can but as I embark on this journey, I can say I'm learning more how to navigate through waters that (to me) feel uncharted. Taking criticism is something every person has to learn how to handle in every walk of life, but as a writer, you open yourself to the world in a way that sets all of your vulnerabilities on display. Opening a vein indeed.

Receiving critiques from reviewers who do it for a living are tough enough--but most professional reviewers, even when not giving you the glowing recommendation you hope for, have the grace to be fair. Customer reviews can give you a different vibe altogether, attacks and no-holds-barred insults that will give your confidence a serious run for its money if you're in the wrong mood. If, like me, you haven't been in the business long, this can give you quite the shock. When I received some harsh critiques from customers I cried, I carried on, all while some loyal family members and friends took charge by gallantly jumping to my defense. But then I realized that even the harshest reviewer has something to teach and any negative buzz out there are all things that can be applied to the next project. Answering these charges with negativity or defending your stance only breeds an endless cycle of negativity. Let the work speak for itself. Flaws may not be able to be fixed at that point in the game, but they can be learned from. And everyone is entitled to their opinion. When your soul is laid bare in such a public forum, you naturally wish their opinion would be favorable but when it's not, it has to be accepted with grace and dignity. Before I ever sought to get published I wrote for myself and, while no work is perfect and can always be improved, I like what I do and am proud of myself. Meantime, I rely on the support of my family, friends, fellow writers and positive literary bloggers and fans who have never failed to give me the encouragement and pep talks I need to get through! There's a time in life when no matter what anyone thinks, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I'm okay." And I am!