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BLOGWORDS – Saturday 12 June 2021 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY-on-SATURDAY – BOOK REVIEW – THE QUEEN WHO SOLD HER CROWN by JANE ANN McLACHLAN

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TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY-on-SATURDAY – BOOK REVIEW – THE QUEEN WHO SOLD HER CROWN by JANE ANN McLACHLAN

 

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THE BLURB

It is 1348.
Queen Joanna of Naples is facing trial for the murder of her husband, Andrew of Hungary. His brother, King Louis of Hungary is poised at her borders with a massive army ready to invade. Her royal cousins, ignoring the threat at their border, are at war with one another, throwing her kingdom into disarray. And in a few months a pandemic of massive proportions is about to sweep over all of Europe–the first wave of the bubonic plague, which will annihilate over one-third of the population.
In an era when it was believed that no woman possessed the strength and wisdom to rule a kingdom even in peaceful times, will the beautiful, passionate twenty-two-year-old Queen Joanna, sole monarch of the Kingdom of Naples, be able to survive the cataclysm about to break over her?

THE AUTHOR

A1VrsWq66KL._SY600_Jane Ann McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She started writing stories when she was five years old, and has been reading literary fiction, science fiction and historical fiction in equal measure all her life. She received her B.A. in English Literature from York University and her M.A. in Canadian Literature from Carleton University. Before becoming a full-time writer she taught at Conestoga College.
She has three published science fiction novels under the pen name, J. A. McLachlan: Walls of Wind, and two young adult science fiction novels, The Occasional Diamond Thief (winner of the Alberta Publishers Award (APA) for Science Fiction and featured in the National US magazine, VOYA) and The Salarian Desert Game (runner up for the APA and listed in Canadian Top Books For Teens). She has four published historical fiction novels under Jane Ann McLachlan: The Sorrow Stone (winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award for Historical Fiction), The Lode Stone, The Girl Who Would Be Queen, and The Girl Who Tempted Fortune. She is also the author of a writers’ workbook titled Downriver Writing: The Five-Step Process for Outlining Your Novel; two College textbooks on Professional Ethics published by Pearson-Prentice Hall; and a memoir, IMPACT: A Memoir of PTSD.
She lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her husband who is also a writer, and their bilingual dog, Frenchy, a papillion breed. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.

You can learn more about J. A. McLachlan and her books on her website at: http://www.janeannmclachlan.com
Connect with Jane Ann on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janeann.mclachlan

MY REVIEW

The more I read about Queen Joanna of Naples the more I want to know. I was introduced to Joanna in Ms. McLachlan’s first book in the series, The Girl Who Would Be Queen, and I have come to love her as much as she loves her subjects! Such a kind and benevolent and godly queen. I liked Louis at first, later, not so much. [SPOILER]

Ms. McLachlan’s writing is encompassing, and this story, told in first person, makes it even more vibrant and real. Her research is extensive and thorough, and it shows on every page.

The scourge of the Black Plague wrought havoc not only on Joanna’s kingdom. Yet she faced this like everything else—with faith and determination. Marriages arranged for political gain. Women not just as the weaker sex, but inferior. The vast gap between royalty and nobility and the working class.

Oh, how my heart ached for Joanna. The burdens she carried, the relationships we take for granted questioned. Having to choose her crown and duty over personal feelings. The deep grief she experienced.

I never studied or knew of Queen Joanna, or the history of Naples. Ms. McLachlan’s series, however, has forever etched her in my heart as a favorite monarch.

ROBIN’S FEATHERS

Slide5  ALL | THE | FEATHERS!

I received a complimentary copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

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#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day-on-Saturday, #TRD, Book Review, The Queen Who Sold Her Crown, Jane Ann McLachlan, The Kingdom of Naples Series, The Girl Who Would Be Queen, The Girl Who Tempted Fortune

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 10 March 2020 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – BOOK REVIEW – THE GIRL WHO TEMPTED FORTUNE by JANE ANN McLACHLAN

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – BOOK REVIEW – THE GIRL WHO TEMPTED FORTUNE by JANE ANN McLACHLAN

 

 

THE BLURB

In the royal courts of medieval Europe, where aristocrats vie for power and royal cousins battle over crowns, is it possible for the lowly daughter of a fisherman to dream of becoming mother to a monarch?

Impossible!

Yet Philippa of Catania, the daughter of a Sicilian fisherman, risks everything to ride the wheel of fortune to the dizzying heights of power. And in the most enlightened kingdom of all Christendom, the 14th Century court of King Robert the Wise and his beautiful and brilliant heir, Queen Joanna 1 of Naples, it might not be so impossible after all.

Arriving alone and friendless in the Kingdom of Naples with only her wits, beauty and native intelligence to guide her, she forges allies and finds a love she never expected, as well as enemies who will stop at nothing to destroy her. Follow the story of Philippa of Catania as she defies the limits of birth and station on an unbelievable yet true journey to the heights of power and wealth in 14th Century Italy.

 

THE AUTHOR

 

J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. She has been reading literary fiction, science fiction and historical fiction in equal measure all her life. Walls of Wind was her first published Science Fiction novel. She has two young adult science fiction novels, The Occasional Diamond Thief and The Salarian Desert Game, published by EDGE Publishing. And her first historical fiction, The Sorrow Stone, set in the 12th Century, is now available. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

MY REVIEW

No one does Historical Fiction like Jane Ann McLachlan! She “paints a vivid story of life in the 14th century.” (taken from my review of The Girl Who Would be Queen, 30 April 2019, https://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/blogwords-tuesday-30-april-2019-tuesday-reviews-day-book-review-the-girl-who-would-be-queen-by-jane-ann-mclachlan/ )

 

The gritty, grueling reality of life in the 14th century. Rigid class lines, crossing them unthinkable. And yet many tried. Many failed and few succeeded. Philippa of Catania was one such. What it cost her this reader cannot fathom; nor the life she abandoned, so base and mean.

We live in an era and a culture that encourages rising above our lot in life, bettering ourselves, cheers our accomplishments; it’s hard to fathom being barred from higher education, reaching for the stars, being the best we can be.

With every turn, as Philippa’s good fortune increased, as favor seemed to smile on her, a piece of her was lost. I wanted to cry out against the injustice, I wept at trade off she made.

I was rather enamored of Raymond, his attention and affection for Philippa, as he, too, found favor and rose above his origins. His devotion to Philippa enviable and coveted, the stuff of romance and fairy tales.

The fact that this story is true makes it all the more fantastic and compelling.

 

“Ms. McLachlan’s telling [of this story] was exquisite, her research certainly thorough and impeccable, as conveyed in the details, the colorful descriptions and vivid language. The richness of this story is a luscious, velvet tapestry that wraps you in the richness of it.”

 

ROBIN’S FEATHERS

ALL | THE | FEATHERS!

 

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, The Girl Who Tempted Fortune, Jane Ann McLachlan, The Girl Who Would be Queen

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 30 September 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY – JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

 

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY – JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

 

DOWNRIVER WRITING

 

Plotting and pantsing are usually presented as an either/or choice. I agree with author T.I. Lowe who posted earlier on this topic, that both are needed. Creating a plot that is clear enough to give your story direction yet free enough to leave room for creativity and insight as you write is the best option. What is more important than plotting or pantsing, is doing pre-writing exercises to get to know your story.

I spend a lot of time on “pre-writing” before I write the first word of a new novel, and that’s what I teach my students. I’ve seen too many new writers start a project with great enthusiasm, believing they have a good grasp of what they want to write, only to have their story dwindle away by the fourth or fifth chapter. Sometimes this happens even if they’ve spent time plotting the action sequences.

 

Planning a novel involves more than just outlining a plot of the actions that will occur. I use a process I call “downriver writing” which involves a number of exercises meant to explore my idea, theme(s), characters, setting, and yes, the plot of my story. Because before I start writing I need to know what my story is so clearly that writing it is as simple as floating downriver on a raft.

 

With downriver writing I still have to steer my craft, but I don’t have to fight the current. I don’t have to stop and wonder where my story should go next, or feel like I’ve lost the thread of my story. When I write downriver, the plot flows naturally from the characters’ personalities and choices, so that every twist, surprise, and revelation seems right as it happens, and feels right to my readers.

 

The exercises I use are a kind of research on my story. I am tapping into my own imagination to chart the course of my story by thinking deeply about my characters, setting, situation, and plot. They help me delve deeper into the possibilities within this story, and the act of writing out my answers helps solidify my creative insights.

 

The protagonist’s journey begins when some event occurs to irrevocably change the protagonist’s situation. This is called the inciting incident. It forces the hero out of her previous life and starts her on her journey. Everything that happens in your story should flow naturally from that one incident, and from how your characters react to it, which is determined by their personalities and past experiences.  For this to work, you have to know your characters as well as you know yourself; you have to be able to predict what they would do and why, so well that it is unconscious and utterly believable to your readers.

 

The inciting incident is the only time you, the author, will be able to manipulate the plot. It is the one action that does not naturally flow from the characters’ prior choices and actions, but rather sets them all in motion. It must, however, appear to flow naturally from the setting and situation your characters are in, so you must introduce these in a way that will make the inciting incident unexpected but still believable.

 

For example, the inciting incident in The Hunger Games is when Katniss’ little sister, Prim, is chosen for the games. In order to fully appreciate this moment, the reader has to know how helpless, innocent and sweet Prim is and how much Katniss loves her. Suspense and tension over the choosing and the games themselves has to have been built up in order to climax in the calling out of Prim’s name. In the introduction leading up to the choosing, we see Katniss’ tension and fear. She’s had to put in extra ballots for herself to keep her family alive, and fears for herself, and for her friend Gale who has even more ballots in his name. The likelihood that Prim, with only one ballot, will be called is so negligible Katniss barely worries about it. The worst thing that could happen, in her mind, is that she will be chosen and her mother and Prim will be left to starve. Then— BOOM—something far worse happens – Prim is chosen.

 

And we’re off. Everything else that happens in the entire Hunger Games trilogy is a natural consequence of the choices made by the main characters in reaction to what happened before. If you really know your characters and their situation, after the inciting incident it’s all downriver writing.

 

So what do you have to know about your characters? Basically, each character’s attitudes and reactions will be influenced by four things: his background, his occupation and interests, his mood at the time, and his backstory (BOMB). These four things will affect how each character perceives what is happening, what they notice in a scene, how they interpret it and how they will react to it. For each character, you should know their background (rich/poor, rural/urban, large family/orphan, etc), their occupation and interests (a doctor or nurse will notice the way another character walks or looks and draw conclusions about their health; a fisherman or hunter will notice the sky, the sea, the landscape, and signs of incoming weather; a carpenter or engineer will notice buildings and possible structural problems); their mood (a character’s response depends on whether he/she is feeling depressed/happy, angry/loving, envious/admiring); and their backstory or past experiences.

 

So no, you don’t have to plot out everything that’s going to happen in your novel. You can pants it. Because if you’ve done your pre-writing exercises and thoroughly explored your story idea, setting, situation and characters, your plot will naturally fall into place.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jane Ann McLachlan has been teaching writing and working with emerging writers for 16 years across Canada and the US. She has a Masters Degree in English Literature, a certificate in Adult Education, and she was a college professor of Creative and Professional Writing for over a decade. She has 10 published books, both fiction and non-fiction. Half of them are traditionally published, the other half are self-published. She has four award-winning novels and three of her self-published novels have been Number 1 bestsellers on Amazon. She is the author of Downriver Writing: A Five-Step Process for Outlining Your Novel and is currently piloting a mentorship program for new writers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY

            this one’s a little bit different…

Jane Ann McLachlan is giving away the first month (October) of her mentorship program for free, plus a detailed critique of the first five pages of your novel, to the first 12 people who buy her writing workbook, Downriver Writing, and can tell her the first sentence on page 60 of the workbook VIA EMAIL at jamclachlan@golden.net

Please DO NOT write the sentence here in the comments (it will be deleted)

Rather, email your answer to her at: jamclachlan@golden.net.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jane Ann McLachlan, GIVEAWAY

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 30 April 2019 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – BOOK REVIEW – THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN by JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – BOOK REVIEW – THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN by JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

                                                                             

 

 

THE BLURB

Ruling a kingdom in the 14th Century was no task for a woman.
When Robert of Naples died in 1342, beautiful, sixteen-year-old Joanna and her sister Maria are the sole heirs to one of the largest, wealthiest and most sophisticated kingdoms in Europe.
Born in a male-dominated world in the passionate south of Italy, and surrounded by ambitious male cousins with an equal claim to the crown, will these sisters be able to maintain control over their kingdom? With only their wits, beauty, and the love of their people to aid them, Joanna and Maria, bound together by their strong love and fierce rivalry, are prepared to do anything to hold onto their beloved Kingdom.
But can they survive a kidnapping, court intrigues, civil war, and even murder tearing their Kingdom apart? Find the answer in this gripping true story of 14th Century Europe.

 

THE AUTHOR

 

J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. She has been reading literary fiction, science fiction and historical fiction in equal measure all her life. Walls of Wind was her first published Science Fiction novel. She has two young adult science fiction novels, The Occasional Diamond Thief and The Salarian Desert Game, published by EDGE Publishing. And her first historical fiction, The Sorrow Stone, set in the 12th Century, is now available. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

MY REVIEW

And this is why I love historical fiction! Ms. McLachlan paints a vivid story of life in the 14th century. And it ain’t pretty. Things we take for granted were unheard of—and I don’t mean modern conveniences. Marriages arranged for the sake of political gain. The belief that a woman was less intelligent, less capable than a man—to do anything.

But what struck this reader, was the realism with which Ms. McLachlan portrayed royalty. We have this romanticized notion that a king or queen could do whatever they wanted, that their wish was a servant’s command, that their every whim was catered to. This was so not true. So many voices, so many forces, in Queen Joanna’s ear. Not the least of which was the church.

Coincidentally, I was binge watching The Crown while reading this book, which further emphasized the fact—Queen Elizabeth struggled with much the same restrictions Joanna faced.

 

It frustrated me the obstacles Joanna was up against, impediments that should not have been there. Difficulties simply because of her gender. I suffered the angst as I learned some of what Joanna and her sister, Maria, faced and endured. Ms. McLachlan’s telling was exquisite, her research certainly thorough and impeccable, as conveyed in the details, the colorful descriptions and vivid language. The richness of this story is a luscious, velvet tapestry that wraps you in the richness of it.

 

ROBIN’S FEATHERS

ALL | THE | FEATHERS!

 

 

 

I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, The Girl Who Would Be Queen, Jane Ann McLachlan

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 4 March 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

 

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

 

The Five Types of Research that go into a Novel

 

When readers think of research for a book, they are usually thinking of non-fiction. However, there’s a great deal of research that goes into most fiction books. Five different kinds of research go into nearly every novel you’ve ever read.

 

First, there’s genre research. A writer has to know the genre he or she is writing in. What kind of set-up or situation has already been done – and possibly overdone – in this genre? What was done in the past and will feel “old” and what is being done right now? What hasn’t been done yet, but would be enjoyed by readers of this genre? There’s a huge difference between the original Dracula and Twilight, but you’d better have read them both, and a host of other vampire stories besides, before writing your vampire novel.

 

Next, there’s background research. It’s pretty obvious that this is a big part of science fiction novels which speculate on cutting-edge science, or historical fiction novels which depict the life and times of real people in the past. But every novel needs some background research. Mystery, suspense, and crime novelists need to know a lot about police work, explosives, poisons, forensics, espionage, courtroom procedures, combat, and so on. Every novel has facts that have to be checked, subjects that have to be understood.

 

This leads us to the next two types of research, research related to plot and character. What aspects of the plot do you need to brush up on? Are you going to have a dog-sled race or a hot air balloon ride during which your hero proposes? Better make sure you know what you’re talking about when you describe them. I like this kind of research because it’s done at a need-to-know level, and I can do it while writing, when it comes up, which makes it feel less like research and more like “getting into the story”. It can be experiential – take a hot air balloon ride. When writing about my historical characters’ entertainments, I paid for a lesson in falconry. It’s quite a thrill to have a magnificent hunting bird swoop down and land on your gloved arm!

 

Then there’s character research. I love delving into my characters’ backstories. What would make this person think and act the way he or she does? What happened in their pasts to cause this reaction to this particular situation? What effect does their career choice have on them? A businessman will ask about the bottom line, a lawyer will question the legality or possible consequences of an action, a fisherman will be aware of the weather and tides. How would their culture, or the beliefs they were raised with, have shaped them? This last is particularly relevant to writing historical fiction if you want to be true to the times.

 

Finally, there’s setting research. If you place your novel in a real setting, it’s best to travel there, because people who live in that locale will be reading closely to make sure you got the climate, culture, vegetation, and street names correct. When I wrote The Sorrow Stone, I personally followed the route my travelling peddler took from the Cluny monastery to Avignon in the south of France. For The Girl Who Would Be Queen, I visited Naples. Since I was writing about these places in the 12th and 14th Centuries, it wasn’t enough to know what they are like now. I had to learn what the places looked, smelled, and sounded like in those times – which of the buildings were around then, what the prevailing industries were, the native vegetation, etc. I like to research setting after I know a little about the plotline of my novel and have got into the characters’ mindsets. It’s quite a thrill to walk through a castle or cathedral following the steps of a real historical character you have come to know well, and to imagine how she felt when she stood in the very place you are standing today.

 

For some genres, setting research can be a bit more challenging. The author of The Martian could hardly go to Mars, but he did need to know as much as he could learn about the climate, soil, and terrain there. A fantasy author can’t go to Middle Earth, but she does base her story on some earth-like setting, and it had better be consistent with the real thing. We don’t expect to find a hot desert at the edge of a rainforest, or palm trees growing in an arctic wasteland.

 

A lot of thinking and research goes into every book before the author writes the first word. But only a limited amount of that research is apparent to the reader. If it’s done right, the reader simply feels as though she was really there in that world; as though those characters are real people he met and spent time with. Whenever a reviewer says that about one of my books, I know I’ve done my research well!

 

 

Jane Ann McLachlan is the multi-award-winning author of historical fiction and young adult science fiction and fantasy.

To learn more about Jane Ann McLachlan and her books, visit her website: www.janeannmcalchlan.com  For more tips and posts on writing, watch for her writing website, www.downriverwriting.com which will be coming soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Her new novel, The Girl Who Would Be Queen, is being released the first week of March and will be on sale HERE

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NV148DP

for .99 cents from March 4th till 10th.

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jane Ann McLachlan, The Five Types of Research that go into a Novel, The Girl Who Would Be Queen

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