Updates on Health, Life, Books and Everything

I know, I know, it’s been a minute since I’ve posted anything about writing or life. I’m even late with my August newsletter. But I have reasons.

Health Update
First, some of you may have seen on social that I was in the hospital about a week and a half ago. I went in via ambulance thinking I was having a heart attack (shortness of breath, dull pain in my left arm). My heart was fine, but in the course of testing they found I had three small blot clots in my lungs. I would never have known had I not gone in. (Listen to your body! It could save your life.)

They admitted me and pumped me full of blood thinners and now I’m home, back to work and taking blood thinners at home. (Which I will likely be on for the rest of my life.) They couldn’t find a reason for the clots; all my tests came back normal, so that is really scary. I’m paranoid about making sure I don’t sit in one place for too long at a time now.

As a result, I’m stepping back from some of the volunteer things I’ve been doing. I had a potential book project going on, but that fell through, and as much as I would have loved to have worked on it, I’m kind of glad. This situation forced me to look at the manic pace at which I’ve been working for at least two years now and settle down a bit. That is one weight off my shoulders.

Book Announcement – August 15
I’ve been sitting on this one for about a month and a half, but soon I will finally be able to tell you about a historical fiction book I have under contract! I’m really excited about it and I hope you will be, too. It’s a tight turnaround, but I know I can do it. And we have a cover to reveal at the same time! So please mark your calendars!

I’ve Joined TikTok
I finally gave in and went to the dark side. I’m on TikTok. (Find me here.) I’ve been lurking for a few months and realized its really not that bad when you find people of like mind. I’m going to try to make videos a few times a week. Right now it is just me trying to get used to how it works, but eventually you’ll see more book stuff on there too. So if you’re on, please follow me and feel free to like or comment on my videos. And if you have suggestions for improvement or things you’d like to see, I’m all ears.

Book Updates

  • We are just about three months out from the release of Sex and the City: A Cultural History! It is at the printer and I should be getting advanced copies within a few weeks. You’ll be seeing more and more about it as we ramp up marketing efforts.
  • The League of Women Voters book has a title: Raising Our Voices: The League of Women Voters in St. Louis 1690-2022. It is being sent to the publisher as we speak. More to come.
  • America’s Forgotten Suffragists is still in copy editing, but they say I should get those files back next week sometime. I’ll have a week to go through everything and then in late September I’ll see the book laid out for the first time in page proofs.
  • The Arthurian non-fiction book I wrote a chapter for is getting closer to publication. I completed edits that the potential publisher wanted a few weeks ago. Now we wait.
  • And yes, the Fierce Females on Television book is still happening, but it’s on the back burner right now with everything else that is going on. It’s due January 13. Plenty of time, right?

Chanticleer Conference Summary
I was planning on doing a full write up of the Chanticleer Conference but time got away from me and I don’t have the energy. Short version: It was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to! I made so many amazing new friends and it was great reconnecting with old friends. America’s Forgotten Suffragists and The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy both won Grand Prizes! And I got to speak something like four times. It was amazing.

T-minus Two Years (or less) to the Windy City
At the Chanticleer Conference, I made a promise to my Chicago friends that I will move there within the next two years. And life, as it usually does to everyone, promptly gave me a leak in my basement, a hospital stay, and car bills, which takes away from paying off debt and being able to move. Whatever. It will still happen.

I think that’s everything outside of the day job. Oh, my birthday is coming up later this month. Maybe I should update my Amazon wishlist!

Unpublished Short Story Makes it into the Quarterfinals of the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition

An unpublished short story that I wrote, Consequences, has made it into the Quarterfinals of the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition. The quarterfinals represent the top 356 stories out of over 1,500 submissions.

Consequences is historical fiction that tells the story of a real-life event in the life of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy religious order. Before she became a Sister, Catherine used her inheritance to build a refuge for poor women and children called the House of Mercy across from the Bank of Ireland in Dublin. One day while the House was still being constructed, a young domestic servant who was “in moral peril” due to poor treatment by her master came to Catherine seeking refuge. Catherine did everything she could to find a place for this girl to go, but failed. Instead of taking her into her own home, for some reason that has been lost to history, Catherine, a normally overly accommodating woman, turned the servant away. She never saw the girl again and it haunted her for the rest of her life. (Catherine is now on the path to sainthood in the Catholic church, being declared Venerable – step 1 of 3 to becoming a saint – in 1990.)

Consequences is the servant’s story or at least what I imagine it to be. I first heard about this story nearly 20 years ago and the paradox of Catherine’s normally charitable and saintly life with her actions in this incident has long stuck in my mind. I knew it was something I had to explore. Consequences was written for an anthology that has not taken shape. Hopefully I will be able to share it with you in the future, but I don’t want to put it online because then it would be considered published.

This is the best short story I’ve ever written, so I’m really proud of it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere in this competition. It looks like the semifinalists will be announced some time next month.

Four of My Books Made Coverfly’s Year-End “Best of” List

I am so happy to report that FOUR of my books have made Coverfly’s Red List, which means they ranked as their Top Manuscripts of the Year!!

Coverfly is the industry’s largest screenwriter talent-discovery platform, connecting emerging screenwriters with literary managers, agents, producers and development executives.

Daughter of Destiny

Oh and Daughter of Destiny was also named a Top Pick by Taleflick!

Camelot’s Queen

Madame Presidentess

Been Searching for You

Mistress of Legend Takes Silver in the Readers Favorite Awards

September started off with pleasant news yesterday: Mistress of Legend was awarded the silver medal in the mythology category of the Reader’s Favorite Awards. As usual, I totally forgot I entered so that was a surprise to me! So thrilled that people are liking this book, even when it is read alone.

Surprise! Mistress of Legend Named Book of the Year by Author’s Circle

Wow, I got the shock of my life last night when I logged in to Facebook to see that I was tagged by Author’s Circle. I had entered their contest, so I was hoping for good news, but I certainly didn’t expect to see that Mistress of Legend was named Book of the Year!

This means that all three books in the Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy have received Book of the Year Awards: Daughter of Destiny from Chanticleer Reviews (2015) and Camelot’s Queen (2016) and Mistress of Legend (2018) from Author’s Circle. Author’s Circle also named The Once ad Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend as their Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2017.

This is my fourth Book of the Year award. When I received the first one I was absolutely shocked. The second I thought was a fluke. The third was just unbelievable. But four? That’s like beyond mind-blowing.

We Did It! The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy is a USA Today Bestseller!

I cannot thank everyone enough for all of your help promoting The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy last week. It paid off! We made the USA Today bestseller list at #148 and as one of only six sci-fi/fantasy books on this week’s list.

More details on how the book fared during the campaign are below, but first the mushy stuff. It may seem odd for me to say “we” but it is totally accurate. I may have written the book and did part of the promotion, but you are the reason my book is on this list. I could not have done this without my friends and fans. And for that there are not enough words in all of the languages on the planet for me to express my gratitude. Your outpouring of love and support online truly overwhelmed me; when I saw all the sharing on Facebook and Twitter and felt you genuinely rooting for me, it changed me for the better. I’ve always known theoretically that supporting others is good, but I’m an only child, and thus, rather self-absorbed (yes, even at nearly 40). By your example, you taught me just how powerful it is to support others, especially fellow writers. Beyond that, I have no doubt that without your purchases, shares, and well-wishes, this dream of mine would not have come true. This honor is as much yours as it is mine.

I want to say a special thank you to Nancy Bilyeau, Susanna Kearsley and Amy Collins for being willing to share my promotion with your fans. And also to James Conroyd Martin, Pat Whaler, Shauna Granger, Liv Raincourt, Courtney Marquez, Jeanne Felfe, my entire street team and a million other people for constantly sharing the graphics and links online. (If I didn’t list you by name, please don’t be offended. These are just the top people who came to mind. I’m going to try to compile a more complete list of people who shared when I go back to do my post-campaign measurement.) This accomplishment is truly a testament to the power of networking. When I met all of you, I never thought I would have something like this ask and I value our friendship first and foremost, but thank you for being willing to champion this book. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank BookBub for giving me the featured deal that made all of this possible.

As you may know, this is my first time on any bestseller list and is my first time “earning my letters,” as they say. (I have my USA and now only need my NYT. Someday!) It is particularly important to me that it was this book that got on the bestseller list. You see, when I first started imagining what was then called Guinevere’s Tale (hence the name of the series) way back in September 1999, I imagined it like this – one gigantic book to rival The Mists of Avalon. It was only in early 2008, when I began to realize what I was writing might actually be publishable that I learned I would likely have to break it up into several books for the publishing industry to even consider it from a debut author. I certainly don’t mind it being a trilogy, but in my mind it will always be one long story.

In case you weren’t following the flurry of photos on social media (and by God was it fun to watch the rankings rise), here’s a rundown of how The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy did from Monday, July 8 through Monday, July 15:

Sales and Category Rankings

  • #1 in fantasy at Barnes and Noble
    • Held for 2.5 days
    • In top 15 for 4 days
    • Bestseller status for 5 days
  • #11 in ALL Nook ebooks
    • In Top 100 for 3 days
  • #1 in three subcategories on Amazon
    • Held for 2.5 days
  • #4 in Fantasy on Amazon
    • Held for 2 days
  • #5 in Sci-fi and Fantasy on Amazon
    • Held for 2 days
  • #40 in ALL Kindle ebooks
    • In Top 100 for 2.5 days
  • #8 in Sci-fi and Fantasy on iBooks (I only thought to look at this on Sunday, so I’m not sure if it was any higher. It likely was at least on Thursday.)
  • Outsold both George R. R. Martin (2 books) and Nora Roberts at certain points.

 

Amazon Author Rankings

  • In Top 100 authors for 4 days.

Nearly a Canadian bestseller.

I also thought it was interesting that it ranked in both book and ebook categories on Amazon even though only the ebook was on sale.

All this to say, wow, what a whirlwind. As Kate Quinn noted, I can now and forever more say I am a USA Today Bestselling author and no one can take that away from me. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if there is ever any way I can repay you, all you have to do is ask.

For those who want to know the nitty-gritty of how all this happened, look out for another blog post on Thursday, August 1, in which I dissect every detail of the campaign, numbers and all. After all, if I did it, so can you!

Mistress of Legend Takes Silver in the Foreword Indie Book Awards

Well, I came home to a wonderful surprise in my mailbox tonight: a certificate telling me Mistress of Legend won Silver in the Fantasy category of the Foreword Indie Book Awards. I didn’t even know they had held them already!

I am so glad because I am so proud of that book. I feel like it is the strongest in the series, yet I know it is difficult for judges to judge the final book in a trilogy when they haven’t read the first two. But the fact that this one won tells me I did my job in making the story make sense on its own.

Mistress of Legend Finals in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards

I am weeks behind on announcing this, but Mistress of Legend was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the fantasy category. These awards give out one gold medal to a category winner and 5-6 silver to the finalists. I may not have gotten gold this time, but I’m proud to have the silver!

Mistress of Legend Wins a Chaucer Award

Just a quick note that Mistress of Legend has won its first award! It took home first in category in the Chaucer Awards for historical fiction at the Chanticleer Book Awards, the same award Madame Presidentess won in 2016.

They say we should have our official winner’s seal by the end of the month, so for now I’m using the contest image.