Archive for March, 2013

Winner of HETAERA: DAUGHTER OF THE GODS

Friday, March 29th, 2013 | Uncategorized | No Comments

I am happy to announce the winner of the ebook HETAERA: DAUGHTER OF THE GODS BY J. A. Coffey and the beautiful necklace:

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Danya!

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Many thanks to everyone who commented. Please tune in on Monday for a give away of FLESH by Khanh Ha

HETAERA

Q & A with Historical Novelist J.A. Coffey and a Give Away

Monday, March 25th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

HETAERA

Why do I write historical fiction?

I’ve always loved reading historical fiction, especially the gritty versions that illustrate human foibles.  The stories of women especially interested me, what their lives were like, their loves, their sexuality and their place in society.  Personally, I’m especially drawn to a theme of perseverance and redemption—women who faced adversity and overcame the odds.  Writing historical fiction is like pulling on a thread in a tapestry…you tug and see where the connections are.  From this, we can track historical records to determine some of the “where” and “what,” but the “why” is often left to speculation.  As an author, I seek to plausibly explain why and how certain events came to pass, based on my research and knowledge of human nature—to tell the story that history (or HERstory?) neglected.

 

How my research started:

My affinity for Greek and Egyptian subjects was honed by two sources—literature and art.  First, my Sicilian Papa, who would tell wondrous tales of Greek mythology and mythos.  He was an accomplished storyteller; I listened with rapt attention whenever he’d spout one on our little walks.  So, it was no surprise that I incorporated storytelling as an elementary art teacher. The subject for HETAERA was discovered when pulling a set of children’s books based on international Fairytales for a second grade arts integration project.  I read Shirley Climo’s The Egyptian Cinderella (she has an entire series on the subject).  Immediately, I was drawn to the story.  I felt I had to discover if this person actually lived, and how a Greek slave could end up as a queen.  So, I scoured more scholarly resources and discovered she was Thracian, not Greek and she was a contemporary of Sappho and Aesop (yes, THAT Aesop).  Lo and behold, Strabo and even Herodotus’ texts alluded to her and are described far more succinctly on the wiki website, here.  Although Herodotus is often discredited, I found it interesting that Doricha/Rhodopis was specifically mentioned.  If she never existed, why should he feel the need to write about her?  So, I grabbed the thread and started pulling.  Research for this first book took the better part of a year, before I felt ready to tackle the subject.

 

Secondly, I made an unofficial study of religions, while in my undergraduate coursework at Baylor University.  Time and time again, I was struck by similarities in deities and legends.  Being an art major, I found much inspiration in classical art and that led to my fascination.  For example, while visiting the Dallas Art Museum, I viewed a classic sculpture of a Babylonian queen who is the subject of my next book.  She is both demonized or deified, depending on the source.  Isn’t that just like our real life soap operas? Investigating the art and artifacts of ancient people is an eye-opening experience—everything from painted decorations to sexual aides were saved and housed in museums across the globe.  And the age of technology has them available for viewing with the click of a button!

 

How do I begin?

Quite often, my research is cyclical.  I start with a germ of a story element–the “Who”.  After I’ve exhausted references on the subject, I note their contemporaries, family connections, marriages, political factions, ruling classes…all details that are filed away to track down at a later date.  This leads to somewhat backwards research of specific places, time periods.  Often, the same person may be known by differing titles or alternately-spelled names (and sometimes names ARE titles!), which also creates some confusion and debate amongst scholars.  It’s the age-old question of “what to leave in, what to leave out”.  I try to represent my stories as honestly as I can, recognizing that it may be impossible to ever know “for sure”.  I must admit, it’s eerie how the voices in my head accurately represented a scene documented in some obscure research which I stumbled upon after writing!  I am often asked what was “real” and what was fictionalized.  The fact that the reader has a hard time discerning is high praise indeed.  In my own blog (J.A. Coffey.com), I offer some behind-the-scenes insight and discuss some of what were factually represented.

 

How did my writing develop?

I wish I could say that I was an instant prodigy, but sadly, my writing developed on a loooong learning curve!  I’ve been a lifelong avid reader, but the physical act of putting pen to paper was daunting.  I joined one of the most helpful writer’s organizations—Romance Writers of America.  I still owe them a huge debt of gratitude.  My first completed book was a fantasy romance—which nabbed me an agent, but I thought it was somewhat lacking.  It just didn’t feel like me.  Author Carol Shields said “Write the book you want to read—the one you cannot find.”  It seemed like other, much better authors had already written my romance story.  Repeatedly.

The voices in my head kept tapping my shoulder and speaking of a larger idea.  I realized I wanted to write historical fiction, my agent asked “do you know how to write a bigger book?”  Well, that was a good question to ask!  Could I?  I had the story bouncing in my head for some time before I felt I could accurately write it down.  Once I did, I experienced some successes early on.  HETAERA was selected as the winning entry in the Writer’s Weekend fiction contest (judged that year by Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden) and then as a Golden Heart Award finalist in Romance Writers of America’s brand new category of “Best Manuscript with Romantic Elements” for novels that did not fit the traditional mold of a romance novel, but had romantic elements that play a central part of the theme.  I couldn’t believe HETAERA was selected as a finalist that first year!  Though I ultimately lost out to a mainstream chick-lit novel, editor Mary Theresa Hussey (then with MIRA) later compared me favorably with Mary Renault—one of my favorite historical authors.  That was enough to keep me going!  Those early acknowledgements, along with the encouragement of other authors, editors, and agents led me to continue to pursue my dreams of being an author.  Writing each book is another learning curve, but I finally feel I’m getting it.  I hope I am!

 

You can find more about J.A. Coffey at www.JACoffey.com or on Twitter by following AuthorJACoffey or on Facebook at JA Coffey.

 

BIO

J.A. Coffey has been fascinated with mythos and legend for as long as she can remember.  She grew up in the Dustbowl of the Midwest–hence her flights of fancy.  Since then she’s lived in all parts of the country and traveled abroad.  She currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and four large dogs.

J.A. holds a Bachelors Degree of Fine Art and a Masters Degree of Education in Educational Leadership.  A popular presenter and conference speaker, she tries to write through the lens of an artist.  When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found toiling in her raised bed gardens, painting, or “feathering her nest”.  She dreams of restoring a historic home.  A former RWA Golden Heart finalist in the “Best Manuscript with Romantic Elements” category, J.A. is currently working on a Young Adult urban fantasy series and her latest historical novel.

GIVEAWAY:

Win a free copy of HETAERA: Daughter of the Gods and a gorgeous bronze beaded collar necklace suitable for a goddess (US delivery only)! (total value: $100)  This show-stopping necklace is not for the faint at heart!  You will feel as lovely as a goddess.

Just leave a comment below to have your name entered into the drawing…

 

Necklace for March 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming Monday: Hetaera, Daughter of the Gods

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

HETAERA

 

Tune in on Monday for a talk with historical fiction author JA Coffey about her debut novel HETAERA: DAUGHTER OF THE GODS

HETAERA on Amazon

Novel Description:

She was the original Cinderella….Doricha is twelve when her father is murdered by a roving band of Greeks. Betrayed by a jealous priestess and sold into slavery, headstrong Dori loses her most valuable possession-her freedom. She hopes that one day she can truly be free, but not even Aesop, her mentor, can protect her. The harsh world of classical Greece has little use for the minds of women, and she finds her body traded to another owner, who transports her to a new life of luxury and political turmoil in the faraway deserts of Egypt. All she has to do is be beautiful, all she has to do is love him, and she will be kept safe.

The problem is, Dori doesn’t want to be kept–by any man. Not even the god-king Amasis, Pharaoh of Egypt.

From the ancient Thracian temple of the Bacchae to the exotic lands of Egypt where political intrigue coils like a nest of asps, Dori learns that fulfilling her father’s dying wish is not about bands around her wrists so much as it is bands around her heart. Based on persons and historical events of 26th dynasty Egypt, HETAERA fictionalizes the life of Doricha/Rhodopis–a most extraordinary woman who changed the world.

NOTE: This book contains adult content

Reviews:
“HETAERA- DAUGHTER OF THE GODS is a fascinating historical novel in which the strength of one woman triumphs over adversity, and ultimately frees her soul. Slave, temple dancer, concubine, courtesan, she is called many things, but each title must be stripped away so that she can discover who she truly is. A compelling story.” — Christy English, author of THE QUEEN’S PAWN and HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE

We’ll be giving away a copy of the e book along with this beautiful necklace…

Necklace for March 25

 

Unruly Women in Fiction and in History

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Today on Lost In Books with Becca, I explore the joy of unruly women, both in fiction and in history, beginning with my favorite…you guessed it! Eleanor of Aquitaine 🙂

Hit the link below and check it out…

To Be Queen Cover Final_275px

I’m lost in Books: Unruly Women

First Drafts: Write or Flight?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 | The Writing Life | 10 Comments

Am I alone in this? Every time I begin the first draft of a novel, two conflicting realities converge.

The need to write, and the need to run away.

I have taken to calling this the Write or Flight phenomenon…the thing that makes me get up from my computer five times on the same page, that makes me seek out yet one more coke or draws me to the internet for ‘research” that then takes me away from the book for the rest of the day.

No doubt, when I do this, it is a lack of discipline. But this phenomenon is more than that. It is a real and urgent need to run from the thing I am creating.

Of course, I always conquer the need to run. We all do. In the end, the book is the boss, and the book has to get written. And the only way for that to happen is to stay in the chair long enough for my characters and I to write the book, or at least today’s chapter. But it can be a fight, some days more than others.

Do you have this Write or Flight experience? If you do, please share in the comments section. I’d love to hear your take.

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