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My Writer's Journal

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What is it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world?

Hermione knows . . . her mother is Helen of Troy, the famed beauty of Greek myth. Helen is not only beautiful but also impulsive, and when she falls in love with charming Prince Paris, she runs off with him to Troy, abandoning her distraught daughter. Determined to reclaim their enchanting queen, the Greek army sails for Troy. Hermione stows away in one of the thousand ships in the fleet and witnesses the start of the legendary Trojan War.     In the rough Greek encampment outside the walls of Troy, Hermione’s life is far from that of a pampered princess. Meanwhile, her mother basks in luxury in the royal palace inside the city. Hermione desperately wishes for the gods and goddesses to intervene and end the brutal war—and to bring her love. Will she end up with the handsome archer Orestes, or the formidable Pyrrhus, leader of a tribe of fierce warriors? And will she ever forgive her mother for bringing such chaos to her life and the lives of so many others?

Author bio:

Carolyn Meyer is the author of more than fifty books for children and young adults, and has no intention of quitting any time soon. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Story of Hermione and Helen of Troy: 

After years of writing about the young lives of fascinating women of power, from Cleopatra to Victoria, in BEAUTY'S DAUGHTER I've drawn on the myths of ancient Greece to tell the story of what it must have been like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world.

When Helen leaves her husband and daughter and runs off to Troy with handsome Paris, a thousand Greek ships sail for Troy to bring her back..and her daughter, Hermione, goes with them as a stowaway. Hermione's adventures on the Trojan beaches, her struggle for survival,, and her search for true love of her life drive this story.

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Victoria Rebels

Queen Victoria’s personal journals inform this captivating first-person account of one of history’s most prominent female leaders.

Queen Victoria most certainly left a legacy—under her rule as the longest reigning female monarch in history, the British Empire was greatly expanded and significant industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes occurred within the United Kingdom. To be a young woman in a time when few other females held positions of power was to lead in a remarkable age—and because Queen Victoria kept personal journals, this historical novel from award-winning author Carolyn Meyer shares authentic emotional insight along with accurate information, weaving a true story of intrigue and romance.

Cleopatra Confesses

It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh's six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder. Smart, courageous, ambitious and sensuously beautiful, she possesses the charm to cause two of history's most famous leaders to fall in love with her. But as her cruel sisters plot to steal the throne, Cleopatra realizes there is only one person on whom she can rely--herself.

In Cleopatra Confesses, award winning author Carolyn Meyer writes the story of the teenage girl who would become Egypt's most unforgettable queen, from her early years to her her ultimate destiny.

The Wild Queen

Mary Stuart was just five years old when she was sent to France to be raised alongside her future husband. But when the frail young king dies, eighteen-year-old Mary is stripped of her title as Queen of France and set adrift in the harsh world, alone. Determined to reign over what is rightfully hers, Mary returns to Scotland. Hopingthat a husband will help her secure the coveted English throne, she marries again, but the love and security she longs for elude her. Instead, the fiery young queen finds herself embroiled in a murder scandal that could cost her the crown. And her attempts to bargain with her formidable “sister queen,” Elizabeth I of England, could cost her her very life.

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When a new book comes out

For the past few months I've been writing about the story behind each book, recalling something about the inspiration and my writing process. So far I've reached back to books I wrote more than 25 years ago. Now I'm taking a break from that to consider the end result: what happens when the book is finished and goes out into the world.

The actual time for research, writing, rewriting, and re-rewriting a book takes about a year; add in time for the editorial work and production (fact-checking, copyediting, proofreading, jacket design, printing), and a couple of years roll by from the birth of the idea to the arrival of the book on the shelves.

Then another process begins, and it can be both exhilarating and painful. I wonder how the book will fare, now that it's out there. Will reviewers love it or hate it or simply ignore it? Once upon a time, before and goodreads, only "professionals" reviewed books--librarians, for instance (School Library Journal), and services that advise booksellers (Kirkus). Years ago I wrote a monthly column about children's books for the now defunct McCall's Magazine. What I learned is that reviewing a book is a totally subjective enterprise, and I'm not very good at it.

I've written more than 50 books--closer to 60 now--and almost every book has been both praised and trashed. Another thing I've learned is that great reviews, although great for the ego, don't always translate into great sales--and vice versa. Amazingly, my very first book, MISS PATCH'S LEARN-TO-SEW BOOK, published in 1969, is being reissued next fall--after 45 years! And one of the books I wrote for the Royal Diary series, ANASTASIA: THE LAST GRAND DUCHESS, published a dozen years ago, has just been reissued in a new format.

Negative reviews are worthless. It's impossible to learn anything useful from them, because they are often contradictory. One amazonian may mutter that the opening is too slow and the ending is too rushed, while another will grumble that it started out well and then ran out of gas at the end. One goodreader might complain that there's too much detail and another says too much has been left out.

Sometimes I wonder if they're talking about somebody else's book, because I don't recognize my own. At some point I reread my book--I've been away from it for months, and I'm deeply engrossed in a new project--and try to see it through a stranger's eyes. Then I ask myself if I could have done something differently. The answer is always no.  Read More 
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Behind the Books: Voices of South Africa: Growing Up in A Troubled Land

Back in the 1980's I was asked by my publisher if I would go to South Africa and write about what it was like to be a young person growing up under the iron fist of apartheid. I jumped at the chance, without the remotest idea of what I was getting into--or how I was going to do it.

Almost from the very beginning, I got lucky. I happened to meet a man from South Africa when I was at the travel agent's office; he introduced me to his wife, and the two of them came up with a short list of contacts, friends who might be helpful when I got there. Then a friend told me about a fellow who was repairing her roof who was a South African; I met him, and he put me in touch with his mother. By the time I took off for Johannesburg in the summer of 1985, the country was seething with anger, and I had a list of people to call when I got there.

From the beginning, I thought it was a beautiful country living under a horrible system. I wasn't permitted to stay with a black family, but a black Anglican priest got me into his township and took me to his church. I visited lots of schools, both black and white. I met a lot of kids. I met Archbishop Tutu.

I took the train from Jo'burg to Cape Town, visited Stellenbosch, rented a car and drove along the coat through Port Elizabeth to Durban, staying with families along the way. My white hosts tried to explain why the system was the way it was. They were kind. I was polite.

After a few weeks I flew home again and tried to make sense of what I'd seen and heard. Nelson Mandela was still a prisoner at Robben Island. I wasn't optimistic that he'd ever be free, or that apartheid would ever end. But I wrote the book.

I've never been so glad to be WRONG. Read More 
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Behind the Books: Anastasia, The Last Grand Duchess, Russia 1914

The popular Royal Diaries series was launched in 1999 with authors like Kathryn Lasky and Kristiana Gregory, who wrote about Queen Elizabeth and Cleopatra. My first book in the series, ISABEL, JEWEL OF CASTILLA, came out in 2000, followed by ANASTASIA.

I quickly learned that writing a fictional diary is tricky, quite unlike a novel with a first person narrator, which is more like an autobiography or a memoir. The difference is that the diarist has no idea what's coming next in her life; she is in the moment. The memoirist is looking back over the events of her life; she is telling us how she got from there to here and recalling what happened along the way.

The guidelines for writing the Royal Diaries were strict: each entry must be less than three pages, and could be only limited use of dialogue, more common in a conventional novel than in a "diary." This forced me to learn a lot about pacing as I worked on ANASTASIA, ISABEL, and my third Royal Diary, KRISTINA OF SWEDEN.

ANASTASIA has been successful since its publication, and now Scholastic has reissued it in a new paperback format with a very different look to the young duchess on the cover. Thirteen years have passed since the youngest daughter of the Russian tsar made her appearance, and it will interesting to see how she fares today.  Read More 
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