The Next Best Thing- I'm tagged

I’ve been tagged! Some wonderful authors have generously found a way to share their readers by introducing them to new authors. It's called The Next Big Thing in which authors answer 10 questions they hope will help one of their books become just that. I'm not sure about the next big thing...I once wrote a book about not confusing fame with fulfillment - but I am grateful to Sandra Byrd author of terrific historical novels (a favorite is To Die For) set in England. She was tagged by author Debra Brown who also owns the English Historical Fiction Authors site and Nancy Bilyeau for passing the goodness along. So here are my ten answers.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

Releasing April 2013
1. What is your working title of the book?
One Glorious Ambition: The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
Most of my novels are based on the lives of historical women and this woman, Dorothea Dix, engaged me as she was an early reformer for mental health, something I've been involved with myself for many, many years. This quote of Dorothea's is also an inspiring thought:
 "In a world where there is so much to be done. 
I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do." 
~Dorothea Dix 1802-1887.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Fiction. Some people call books based on actual people "biographical fiction" but to me the story is more than biographical though I read several biographies of Dorothea before writing this novel.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What fun! Catherine Zeta-Jones - to play Dorothea. She was said to be a raving beauty from all accounts and at the same time charming, tough, winsome, and able to work with legislators from all 32 states to get reforms passed. She must have also been smart, right? And Dorothea was quite tall and graceful as well.

Emily Blunt - to play Anne Heath, Dorothea's best friend

Liam Nelson - to play Samuel Howe, legislator and mentor to Dorothea

Glen Close - to play Madam Dix, Dorothea's grandmother whom Dorothea tried so hard to please

Tom Cruise - to play William Channing, Federal Street pastor who was charismatic and also not very tall

Colin Firth - to play President Millard Fillmore, confidant of Dorothea

Elizabeth and William Rathbone were English friends, Quakers and reformers as well who were so important in Dorothea's life. I'd like an actual couple to play them but I'll have to think about who that might be. Brad and Angelina?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Turning a childhood of tragedy into a reformer's heart, Dorothea Dix hopes to bring relief to those suffering from mental illness forgotten in almshouses and debtor's prisons; but she meets her greatest challenge in the halls of congress where her idea for national reform is challenged by railroad magnates, homesteaders, land grand colleges and proponents of slavery and where her fight for "the least of these" brings a crisis of her own soul.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book will be published in April, 2013 by WaterBrook Presss, a division of Random House. My literary agency is Hartline Literary Services in Pittsburgh.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Six months and then another two months in revision work. I'm still making tweaks and will until they tell me it's gone to print!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Mozart's Sister, Caleb's Crossing, The Shape of Mercy. All are based on the lives of actual people who are novelized to give us a way of not just seeing what and when they did something but possible scenarios of why and how they might have felt.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've always been interested in the biographies of early reformers such as Jane Adams and I read of Dorothea while I was still in middle school I'm sure. After I became a clinical social worker and later the director of a mental health clinic, providing quality services to the mentally ill were paramount in my professional life. My second career of writing became blended with Dorothea's story through a friend who was a former superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital, Dr. Dean Brooks. He urged me to tell Dorothea's story as a novel and when he read the first draft said he'd known of her all his life but had actually met her for the first time in my book.

I was also inspired at this time to explore the history of mental health treatment as we face so many challenges today in meeting the needs of the mentally ill. I hope the book might pique the interest of a young reformer to take on the task of relieving the suffering of others.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Regina Music Box
Copyright © 2012 The Meekins Antique Regina Music Box
I was blown away by how many things this one woman accomplished! She opened a school for girls at the age of fifteen. She wrote best-selling books that earned royalties her entire life. She didn't get involved in mental health reform until she was nearly forty and then even though she'd been sickly through much of her life, she traveled all over the country on stagecoaches assessing the condition of the mentally ill. She wrote legislation for the states even though she wasn't allowed to testify at hearings because she was a woman! She was also an animal lover and like so many of us who are, I think they brought her much relief to the frustrations of her chosen work. Music boxes and kaleidoscopes were also special and she would give many of them to patients in jails and hospitals to bring comfort to the mentally ill. She was very generous and as the famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger once noted: "Generous people are rarely mentally ill." A good thing to remember!

Please visit these fine authors I’m tagging to learn if their next book might be the Next Big Thing!  Keep in mind, they may not have their post up yet about their upcoming book, so just poke around and check back to see when their "Next Best Thing" post is up. It's a great way to learn about new authors and you just might discover your "Next Best Author!"... or rather not cause that's me right?

Marjorie Thelen
Susan Meissner
Lisa Tawn Bergren
Nancy Rue
Erin Healy
Liz Johnson

If you are new here, I would love to hear how you found me. Check out all the places just off to the left side over there and see all the places to connect online. Thanks for taking the time....