Camelot’s Queen Named Fiction Book of the Year!

Holy Hera! I woke up this morning to the news that Camelot’s Queen was named Fiction Book of the Year by Author’s Circle!

Plus, Been Searching for You was named a Novel of Excellence in the romance category. Whoa. (Imagine that in my best Joey Lawrence voice.)

The Author’s Circle awards are a division of Acorn Publishing. I found out about this contest when I saw a book advertised in the New York Times that had a finalist seal on it. I’m always interested in contests, so I looked it up. And the rest is history.

Holy hell! I am sooooo happy!

Been Searching for You is a Stiletto Finalist!

Yes, this is the official symbol of the Stiletto contest.

Been Searching for You is a finalist in the Stiletto contest, sponsored by the Contemporary Romance Writers chapter of RWA! Here’s the full finalist list. We’ll find out who the winners are at the RWA national conference in Orlando in July. So happy I will be there to attend the party and receive my award!

5 Favorite Movies Inspired by Books

So I’m a few days late with the weekly blog challenge post. Whoops.

Last week’s topic was Favorite Movies Inspired by Books. I had to think about this one for a while because the book really is usually better than the movie. But there are the rare occasions where the movie is better, or is at least good. These are five I like:

  1. The Adjustment Bureau – This is hands down one of my favorite movies of all time! I liked it so much, I wanted more, which is how I found it is loosely based on a Phillip K. Dick story called “The Adjustment Team.” If I ever did the Kindle Worlds thing were I wrote in someone else’s copyrighted world, this would be on the top of my list (the movie world, not the short story)! I loved the intersection of reality and spirituality in this movie, the tug between free will and fate/God’s plan. I’ve had plenty of experiences in life that feel like “someone” has intervened, so I can totally relate to this storyline. Plus, Emily Blunt. She’s one of my favorite actresses.
  2. Queen of the Damned – Maybe it’s because Lestat is my ideal fantasy man in this movie – a rockstar vampire – or maybe it’s because he ends up with a pretty redhead, but damn do I like the movie better than the book! The two are really so different that they may as well be unrelated stories. The heroine of the movie, Jessie, is actually only in the book for like two seconds and then she dies. So that makes the movie seem like fan fiction if you compare the storylines. But I can never see that movie enough.
  3. The Haunting (1999) – I feel like such a bad fangirl admitting I’ve never read the source material by Shirley Jackson (whose writing I love) for this movie. But I have seen the original movie, which is actually much, much better. But I have a soft spot in my heart for the overly CGI’ed 1999 version because I stayed in the castle it was filmed in (Harlaxton Manor, in Grantham, England – which is also where Alex in Been Searching for You gets his last name) about a month after they filmed. They still had set pieces and the security guard told us all about the filming. I was obsessed with Catherine Zeta Jones at the time, so I was in heaven. We even got to take home a set souvenir. I have a wardrobe tag that says “photo double – Nell” with the woman’s name (I’ve checked the credits; it’s legit) and my friend got the padlock they used to chain the gates shut, which features very prominently in a few shots of the film. I really think the movie could have been great had they not felt the need to show you the ghost at the end. Up until then, the movie scared the crap out of me. Oh – and Harlaxton really IS haunted. We didn’t know it until after we were there, but several of us had experiences. BTW – if you like The Haunting, be sure to check out Scary Movie 2, which is a spoof of it (and oddly enough, Kathleen Robertson, my ideal Mia from Been Searching for You, plays the Catherine Zeta Jones role in this movie – this is where I got the inspiration for how Mia physically looks). Another one of my favorite movies!
  4. PS I Love You – I admit, I’ve never read the book, and I’ve been told not to, since I am in love with the movie. It’s got all the essential elements of an amazing love story to me. I mean, how can you not love a guy who cared enough to help his widow grieve his own death and eventually move on with her life? Subconsciously, I think this was a bit of inspiration for Annabeth’s letters in Been Searching for You. And he’s played by Gerard Butler. Yummy!
  5. The Princess Bride – I HATED the book, but the movie is one of my favorites. I can pretty much recite it from beginning to end. What did I not like about the book? Well, without giving anything away, it’s much more gritty and realistic than the fairy tale nature of the movie. It also has a “Lady or the Tiger” type ending which leaves the Happily Ever After (HEA) open to interpretation. No, no, no, and no! Wesley and Buttercup live HEA and that is all there is to it! No ruining my childhood romantic fantasies with your intellectualism, William Goldman!

What are some of your favorite movies that are based on books? Have you seen any of the ones I listed? What do you think of them?


Want to keep up on all the latest news? Sign up for my newsletter!

Camelot’s Queen Named Best Second Book and Wins Gold in Fantasy

It’s public now, so I can officially announce that Camelot’s Queen was named Best Second Novel at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and won the Gold Medal in the Fantasy category, just as Daughter of Destiny did last year!

After my debut novel being named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, I didn’t think I would ever see another accolade like that. But for Camelot’s Queen, which is my favorite book I’ve written, to be acknowledged as a second book means the world to me! Wheee!!!

 

Double Winner at the Midwest Book Awards + Discovering Diamonds Reviews

Midwest Book Awards
I found out over the weekend that Daughter of Destiny won the fantasy category (Camelot’s Queen was also up for that award; I had 2 of 3 finalist slots) and Been Searching for You won the romance category at the Midwest Book Awards!

The winners were covered in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which is my first mention in my hometown paper. (I didn’t enter the IPPY Awards that are also mention in the article. Those awards are of questionable value for their price.)

Discovering Diamonds Reviews
Plus, Daughter of Destiny, Camelot’s Queen and Madame Presidentess have all been honored with the Discovering Diamonds badge for outstanding indie historical fiction.

If you read nothing else, check out the review for Madame Presidentess. I wish everyone was as as enthusiastic about the book as this reviewer! Here are the links to the other reviews:

Other Big News
Daughter of Destiny reached #49 in the historical fantasy category on Amazon over the weekend, which is HUGE! It stayed there are all weekend and is still in the low 50s. Thank you to everyone who has bought it and spread the word among your friends, family and acquaintances. We will get to #1 yet, together!

And I know about two more awards, but I can’t announce them because they aren’t public yet.

 

My Biggest Dream in Life – Being a UNWOMEN Goodwill Ambassador

The blog challenge topic few weeks ago was “your biggest dream in life.” I know you know I want to be a New York Times Bestseller and a full-time author, so I’m going to talk about something closer to my heart that I haven’t been very public about. It is my dream to be a goodwill ambassador for UNWOMEN, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

As many of you know – and I doubt no one is surprised about, given the nature of my books – I’m a feminist, which I trace back to my parents for always assuring me I can do anything, and to attending a Catholic all-girls high school. I’ve been supporting women-based charities since I was in college, including Women for Women International (where I’ve sponsored more than a dozen women survivors of war), UNIFEM (which is what UNWOMEN used to be called) and local all-girls schools for women of various ages.

I’ve wanted to work at the UN for years, ever since I heard about Angelina Jolie becoming a goodwill ambassador (I hadn’t heard of them before that, but they date to the 1950s). The UN was the first place I visited on my first trip to NYC.  What has kept me from applying for a job there is 1) I can’t afford to live in Manhattan, and 2) I don’t speak any other languages (sadly my high school French is all but gone). But I figure when my books take off, they might be interested in having me as a spokesperson. When I look at the women who are ambassadors now, Emma Watson, Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway, I think, “yeah, that’s company I want to join.”

My ultimate dream is to create a book that captures women’s stories and struggles around the world. I’d love to base it on people I meet on those goodwill trips, and partner with a photographer to bring their faces and voices to greater light in nations like the US and in the UK/mainland Europe, where we don’t pay nearly as much attention to women in Syria, Sudan, Congo, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries as we should.

That, I feel, is an expansion of the mission I have started by telling the stories of women in danger of being lost to history. I may only be able to do little things toward my dream right now, but each one gets me a step closer.

What is your biggest dream in life?

My Ideal Romance Hero (or Alphas, Betas and Gammas, Oh My!)

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

This week’s blog challenge is one I can’t believe I’ve never covered here before: My Ideal Romance Hero. I AM a romance writer, after all.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I am so NOT into alpha males. (Oddly enough I just talked about this during my romance cliche presentation last weekend at the Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference.) If you don’t know what that is, an alpha male is your typical romance hero. He’s usually ripped (think Fabio) and is very masculine, confident and bold. He takes charge to take care of his woman. *shivers* I can fend for myself, thank you. All that testosterone is just not for me.

Give me a beta male any day. A beta male is more vulnerable and sensitive than an alpha. He’s shy, sweet, reliable, trustworthy, easygoing but not a pushover, quick to offer comfort, feels deeply, and avoids confrontation. As author Cynthia Eden says: “The beta, well, he’s the guy you hope to marry in real life. Dependable. Steady. You know, a nice guy. The kind you looked for after you were done playing with the bad boy.”

I wrote Alex in Been Searching for You as a beta male. He’s highly educated, works as a professor (as opposed to alpha male careers like military, cop, fire fighter, construction worker, etc.), and he even cries while reading The Fault in Their Stars. He’s got a thing for theatre and the fine things in life. He’s basically my ideal fantasy man. My Lancelot is also more beta (although he may be a gamma), whereas King Arthur is certainly an alpha, which I did on purpose. Aggrivane is all beta. So is Miles from Been Searching for You. Nick? He’s an alpha-hole. (A subcategory of asshole alphas – this is a real thing in the romance community!)

Actually, the ideal man is probably what is coming to be known in romance circles as a gamma male, a combination of alpha and beta traits. There are shy betas who morph into aggressive, take-change alphas when the heroine is threatened, and alphas who hide a softer, beta side. If I had to pick, give me the former. I’d rather have the sensitive guy who will kick ass if I need him to than the one who kicks ass, but occasionally cries. When I think gamma male, I think Ben Pearl from Interred with Their Bones, who is totally my book boyfriend. he’s an internationally security expert and he protects the hell out of Kate Stanley, but he’s also highly intelligent and is able to keep up with her PhD-level Shakespearean knowledge. *swoon*

Ladies (and men who are so inclined) what does your ideal romance hero look like, physically and in all other ways? I want to know!

Huffington Post Article on the Women of Camelot

I’ve known for months that when Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur movie came out (as it does tomorrow in the US) I wanted to share some of the many books that have been written about Arthurian women. What I didn’t expect is to go on about the lack of movies about female Arthurian characters. Well, I’ve done both in this article in the Huffington Post! Happy reading! (And I hope you find another book you’d like to add to your list!)

 

Top 5 Places I’d Like to Visit

I’ve been really behind on blogging lately, especially the 52-week blog challenge. So you’ll be getting two a week from me until I can catch up. Then the challenge blog will resume its usual Friday posting date. I skipped two weeks because the questions (greatest strength and greatest weakness) sounded like a job interview and ain’t no one got time for that! Plus, a few of the weeks are things I’ve already talked about here ad nauseam (my story inspirations, where you can find me on social media, etc.).

I’ve been very fortunate to be an international traveler since I was 11. I’ve been to six countries besides my own: England (3 times), Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. I’ve also been in a fair number of places in my own country – from the Pacific Northwest to LA to Sendona and Phoenix to Florida and New York – and of course, all over the Midwest because I live here!

But there are still MANY places I want to visit. Here are my top 5:

The Mediterranean – The French Riviera, Greece, the Amalfi Coast. Yes, yes and yes! If you want a series of books to really make you want to visit the area, read Nora Roberts’ Stars of Fortune trilogy. Ugh, I’m drooling over the landscape!

The Amalfi Coast

Tuscany – Ever since I read Juliet by Anne Fortier, I have been obsessed with getting to Tuscany, specifically Sienna, which is also the birthplace of one of my favorite saints. But my desire to go there was really initiated by the movie Stealing Beauty when I was a teenager.

Tuscany, Italy

The Languedoc region of France – MJ Rose’s latest book, The Library of Light and Shadow, which I reviewed for the Historical Novel Society, really sealed the deal on this one. But I’ve read a few others set there and it’s a wine producing region. I’m also fascinated by the Cathars, who called that region home.

Colliour on the Côte Vermeille

The Hudson River Valley – This is all Carol Goodman’s fault. She sets all of her books here and I want to see if it really has the haunted, gothic atmosphere she evokes. And if so, I’m not coming back!

The Hudson River Valley

Nassau, Bahamas – I’m not exactly sure where I first was exposed to this place – probably a movie, part of me wants to say one with Pierce Brosnan – but by God does it look like heaven!

Atlantis in Nassau

What places top your travel list? I could probably name 50 more!