Been Searching for You Wins RWA Contest, Camelot’s Queen Comes in 3rd

I’m so happy to finally be able to announce that Been Searching for You won the Long Contemporary Category in the 2017 Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice contest, sponsored by the Ancient City RWA chapter. Camelot’s Queen also took third place in the Strong Romantic Elements category.

I’ve known about this since before Christmas and keeping it a secret was just killing me! So soon, this little trophy on the right will join the others in my curio cabinet.

This is the first RWA contest that Been Searching for You has won (it has finalled in several others) and this one was a reader-driven contest, so it means even more because of that. That novel sits somewhere between traditional romance and women’s fiction and it doesn’t follow a lot of the traditional genre conventions, so a lot of romance readers don’t really know what to do with it. It matters so much to me that these readers understood and loved it, so it was finally recognized by an RWA chapter.

 

 

 

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Publication Day for The Once and Future Queen

Ah!!! It’s publication day for The Once and Future Queen! I’m officially a non-fiction author!

*deep breaths*

I really, really hope you guys like this book. It was a true labor of love for me (not the last time you’ll hear that phrase in connection to a non-fiction book). You all know how much I really love the character of Guinevere and how much making a contribution to her studies and her ongoing reputation means to me. Well, now I feel like I’ve done something actually scholarly – although I hope the book doesn’t come off as dry and too academic.

See, it was my goal to bring the study of Guinevere to non-academic people. The information is out there, but I wanted you to have it in one place that is easy to access and read. Leave the research to the crazy people like me who enjoy it! 😉

Buy print and ebook:      

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And since we’re so close to Thanksgiving here in the US, I just wanted to take a moment and say how grateful I am for each of you. Without you, I’d be talking to myself. Wait – I already do that. You know what I mean. I hope all of you have a happy and bless holiday season, whatever you may celebrate.

Book Review: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

I am SO not a math and science person, but I think The Other Einstein may well end up as my favorite book of 2017. I remember seeing it reviewed in the New York Times when it first came out, but because I don’t give a hoot about science, I didn’t read it. I was afraid it would go over my head. (There is a little science in there I didn’t understand, but it is not at all overwhelming.) Over the next year or so it kept showing up in various places and when it appeared in the “People Also Bought” section on the Amazon pages for my books, I knew I had to read it. I wanted to know what readers (and Amazon’s algorithm) thought the books have in common.

As it turns out, that was identifiable right away. Not only is it about a strong historical woman whose story really hasn’t been told, the tone or “voice” of the book strongly matched my own. That is a hard thing to qualify, so you may just have to go with me on that idea. But I was hooked immediately and knew this was going to be the tale of my kind of woman: intelligent, determined and unwilling to let anyone or anything stand in her way.

The story opens with the early education and formative family years of Mileva Maric, an unusually smart Serbian woman, for whom no marriage is expected because a deformed hip has left her with a limp. Because of this, her father sees fit to encourage her love of school and studying, especially science. He even goes so far as to move the family to help her become one of only a handful of women who study at the Zurich Polytechnic university. During her first year of study – she is the only female physics student in her section – she makes a pact with one of her female roommates that they will eschew men and embark upon a life dedicated to study and science.

As we know from the title, that’s not what happens. A charming Mr. Einstein enters her life and everything changes. After years of her fending off his advances and a prolonged courtship due to money issues, Albert promises to build a life with Mileva based in intellectual discussion, shared science and joint experiments – the very thing of which she has always dreamed.

I won’t ruin the plot by telling you what happens, but I will say this: the very same things that made Einstein charming in the beginning make him a royal asshole as the story progresses. I can’t tell you the number of times I said out loud while reading this book, “You are such a dick.” Kudos to Marie Benedict for being able to create such a complex character that I was drawn in by him, only to be betrayed right alongside Mileva.

I wish Mileva would have fought back more. That is the one thing I wish was different in this book and about her character. She was so smart, so strong in many other ways, but Albert was her weakness. There were many times when I said to her, “why are you still taking this?” (I listened to the book on audio, so it wasn’t quite as weird to talk back to the character.) I would have told him off and gotten out of the relationship at the first hint of trouble. But then again, I’m a 21st century girl (great, now I’m singing “21st Century Digital Boy” by Bad Religion) who was raised on a healthy dose of feminism and the message that I can do anything I want and not to let anyone stop me. I’m sure being a woman in Serbia in the early 1900s, raised on the idea that your role in life is to keep house and have children would have given me a totally different mindset. As an author, I know Marie Benedict was being true to the time period, but it frustrated me as a reader.

And maybe that is not a bad thing. The fact that she elicited such strong emotion from me is testament to the author’s talent. I know I will never look at a picture of Einstein again within inwardly (and maybe outwardly) grumbling. I can’t even hear/read his name without shuddering now, given that he takes great pains in the book to remind Mileva that Einstein means “one stone” and point out that when they married they became one. You’ll have to read the book to see how that gets used against her. What Albert did to Mileva is appalling and puts her squarely in the ranks of some of history’s most royally-screwed women. If this book is to be believed (and it IS fiction, so Marie Benedict has had no shortage of controversy from readers/reviewers) Mileva was robbed of an honor that would have firmly emblazoned her name in history, among many other slights.

I can’t fathom why this book wasn’t a runaway bestseller. That is perhaps the highest praise I can give a book, and its author. I will definitely be reading Marie’s other books as she writes them. I only hope they all uncover stories like Mileva’s. They may be rough on the emotions, but they are stories that need to be told.

PS – Interesting side note: Marie Benedict has written three other books under the name Heather Terrell, The ChrysalisThe Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare. I read one of them a long time ago and HATED it. HATED IT! She has come a long way. (No, I’m not telling you which one.) But I plan to read the other two now.

Updates: Awards, New Booksellers and More!

1) I found out last night that both Been Searching for You (long contemporary) and Camelot’s Queen (mainstream with romantic elements) finaled in the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Contest! That’s an RWA contest hosted by the Ancient City Romance Writers chapter.

2) A few days ago, Madame Presidentess was named an Honorable Mention in the Reader’s Favorite book awards in the fiction – historical personage category. It may not be a win, but it is still and honor (no pun intended), and it puts me in the company of Anna Belfrage, who blurbed both of the Guinevere books. She also received an Honorable Mention and a second book of hers was a finalist. That is the kind of company I want to keep!

3) I am hard at work on beta reader edits to The Once and Future Queen. I’m hoping for a late October release, but it may end up being early November. I will let you know for sure once my editor and proofreader have seen the book.

4) If you’re in St. Louis/St. Charles, Missouri, be sure to stop at Main Street Books. They are now selling all of my books!

I should have news on Madame Presidentess audio soon, so stay tuned for that…

Cover Reveal: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

 

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

We’re celebrating Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today and you get the gift! Don’t miss the beautiful cover below and a special giveaway, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy today!

 

About My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (Coming 4.3.2018):

Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest to Form a More Perfect Union

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife…

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

 

Pre-Order on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

 

To celebrate Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today, we have a surprise for you! Share the cover of MY DEAR HAMILTON and fill out the Rafflecopter below to receive an Exclusive Excerpt!

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5aedf95d1/?
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New York Times bestselling author, Stephanie Dray is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW’s Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women’s fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

 

 

 

Stephanie’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

 

 

New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her New York Times bestselling debut historical novel, America’s First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

 

 

Laura’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up

 

I’m Giving Away a Box of Royalty-Themed Romance Novels!

Daughter of Destiny is part of this month’s Ever After Box, and I’m celebrating by giving one away!

July is all about kings and queens, princes and princesses. Give yourself the ROYAL treatment with great romantic reads featuring royalty past and present along with themed gifts that will make you feel like queen (or king) for a day. This month features books and goodies from Vanessa Kelly, Jennifer Faye, Gwen Hayes, me, and more.

You can enter just by commenting to let me know you are interested. I’m taking entries through end of day Tuesday, July 18. Then I will use a randomizer to pick a winner and will announce it here. If you win, I’ll send you the promo code, which is good through July 31.

Good luck and thanks for your support!

PS – You can also buy this month’s Ever After Box here. And if you still haven’t purchased Daughter of Destiny, it will be on sale for $0.99 July 21-25 to celebrate the book having an international BookBub ad on July 24!

Quick Book Updates

In the summer, this is what editing looks like. This is me trying to figure out what needs to change in Mistress of Legend.

I’m thankful to finally be back to writing on a regular basis. I seem to have fits and starts this year, which I guess is normal, given that I write in between conferences and day job.

Speaking of conferences, don’t forget that I’ll be at Gateway Con June 16-17 in St. Louis and the Historical Novel Society Conference in Portland, Oregon, June 23-24. I’m speaking and signing/selling books at both, so please come and say hello! I’ve just been added to a third panel at the HNS conference, “Putting the Her in History,” with two of my favorites, Patricia Bracewell and Mary Sharratt! Here’s the full information: https://nicoleevelina.com/events/. (Make sure you look at both the reader and writer sections of the page.)

I’ve had some new projects pop up, so I wanted to give you a rundown of where everything stands:

The Once and Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend (non-fiction)
I spent the early part of this year researching for my first non-fiction book, which traces the evolution of the character of Guinevere from her Celtic roots to today. I started writing on it in April, but then other things came up. But I’m back at it at a steady clip now. I was hoping for a summer release, but now it’s looking more like end of the year.

Mistress of Legend (Guinevere’s Tale Book 3) (historical fantasy)
I know all of you are eagerly awaiting this book, and frankly, so am I. Guinevere and Morgan have been talking to me a bit, but not as much as I want them to, so things are going slower than I would like. I have re-read my first draft and while it’s not as bad as I thought it was, it still needs work. I have a revision outline and am doing some additional research, which should be finished in the next few weeks. I’m hoping to start writing in earnest on it over the long Fourth of July weekend. I was hoping to have this out by the end of the year, but now I think it will likely be early 2018.

But the book does have a cover! Members of the Guardians of Endangered Stories (my street team) have seen it, so if you can’t wait, please join! Everyone else will get to see it when we get closer to the book’s release.

Untitled Non-Fiction 
Ever since I started researching Victoria Woodhull, I have come to realize how much feminism means to me. There are so many great stories of women who have gone against the grain of their society and fought for our rights. I am considering writing a biographical historical fiction of another of them, but I also want to examine what feminism has meant in the United States since the birth of our nation and where the movement might be going, especially in our current political climate.

We know for sure there have been three waves in the movement, each with their own inciting event, primary cause, public figures and cultural shifts. The first was in the 19th and early 20th centuries when women fought for the right to vote. The second was from the 1960s – 1980s, when women fought for equal rights, equal pay, an end to sexual harassment and other causes. The third began in the 1990s and encompasses a variety of topics from slut shaming to contraception and more. Just in a little bit of reading, I’ve learned that the waves are more similar than one might think at first glance. I would also argue that we are currently in the beginning of a fourth wave, spurred on by the 2016 presidential election and its fallout.

This is a passion project that I am just beginning to outline and research. I know it is going to take several years and it won’t take the place of my fiction writing. I need something to work on when the characters aren’t talking, so this is my ongoing project.

As King Arthur Hits Theatres, My Guinevere Books Go on Sale

If you’re in the US, chances are good you’ve heard about a little movie called King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that is coming out this Friday. It’s directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Charlie Hunnam is the titular king, so it certainly has star power. In case you’re not familiar, here’s the trailer:

Personally, I think this is typical Hollywood, where they are more excited about the “cool” effects they can use (I mean, elephants in Arthurian legend? Ugh!) than with plot, but I don’t discount that it will have entertainment value for some people.

For those who would rather hear Guinevere’s side of the story, I’ve put both Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen on sale (ebook) through May 14 for $0.99 at all major retailers.

As before, if are willing to help spread the word, I’d really appreciate it!

  • If you haven’t bought Daughter of Destiny or Camelot’s Queen yet, please do.
  • Share information on the sale on social media. I’ve created a folder that has ready-made images and sample tweets/FB posts and links to where the book is for sale to make it as easy as possible to share.
  • I will have an article in the Huffington Post this week, so if you see it, please share it.
  • If you’ve already helped my dreams come true by buying, THANK YOU. If you have time to leave a review, that is always appreciated and may encourage others to buy. Here’s the link to Review on Amazon.

By the way, at the time of this writing, both Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen are in the 300s on their categories on Amazon. I’d love to see them get to #1…so any help you can give is appreciated!

This is my last ask that I know of until my next release. I really appreciate your efforts, your patients and that are willing to stick with me. Tell me what I can do for you in return!

Update: Awards, Google Play, Writing and More!

Grinning like a fool, but I do love my awards.

Yes, I’m still here. Quick update for everyone.

What I’ve been doing

  1. Traveling to the Chanticleer Author’s Conference (see photo) and visiting Seattle (OMG, that Pike’s Place Market…I would give anything to have something like that here!).
  2. Writing on The Once and Future Queen, my debut non-fiction book tracing the evolution of the character of Guinevere from her Celtic roots to today.
  3. Auditioning actresses to narrate the audio book version of Madame Presidentess.

Award updates

  • Daughter of Destiny and Been Searching for You took home Silver in their categories at the Independent Book Publishers Association’s (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Awards last weekend.
  • Camelot’s Queen won First in Category (Mythic and Legendary Fantasy) in the Ozma Awards, sponsored by Chanticleer Reviews.
  • Camelot’s Queen and Been Searching for You are both nominees for In D’Tale Magazine’s RONE Awards. Voting starts Monday and I need your help to get into the finals. Look for a post on Monday with directions on how to vote.

One thing you can do now: You MUST be registered at www.indtale.com in order to vote for the RONE Awards, so please sign up today. It’s a two-step process:

  1. Register at www.indtale.com. 
  2. Click the verification link sent to you via email. (If you don’t verify, you won’t be able to vote.)

Book news

More from me soon, I promise!