Two-Book Traditional Publishing Deal!

So…I have news!

I am over-the-moon excited! I’m finally a hybrid author! This has been a long time coming and I am so excited to write these books. Here’s a little more about them:

Obviously, not the real cover.

Sex and the City: A Cultural History
This book will provide cultural context and analysis of the famous show, both how it affected cultural as it aired and also how it looks now 20+ years later. Some topics include:

  • Looking at what it means to relate to each of the girls (ala, Are you a Carrie? A Samantha? A Miranda? A Charlotte?)
  • What the men in the show illustrate about masculinity and what that means about the kinds of men women are attracted to.
  • Issues like diversity or lack thereof, treatment of sex and sexuality, LGBTQIA portrayal.
  • How the show made New York a character, built brands, influenced fashion and reflected third wave feminism.
  • And a lot more!

I have an end of year deadline, so hopefully the book will come out around the time the reboot, And Just Like That, airs.

Fierce Females in Television: A Cultural History

Thank God, not the real cover!

This book will briefly discuss the nature of physically strong women on TV from the 1950s-1980s, but will focus specifically on the 1990s to today because that is when we saw a major ramp up in the portrayal of these kinds of women.

Shows covered include: Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Charmed (1998-2006), Alias (2001-2006), Nikita (2010-2013), Agent Carter (2015-2016), Jessica Jones (2015-2019), Game of Thrones (2011-2019), and Homeland (2011-2020).

Some of the topics include:

  • An analysis of the main female characters on each show.
  • The meaning of female strength and friendships/family.
  • The influence of third- and fourth-wave feminism on the shows and their characters.
  • Treatment of sex and diversity.
  • The role of redemption narratives and change in female lives.
  • And more!

This book will be out sometime in 2023/24.

Between these, the League of Women Voters book (due Oct. 4) and at least one work of historical fiction, you know what my next few months and even my 2022 will look like!

Consequences is Out Today!

All decisions have consequences. Some are deadly. Others never let you go.

  • What would you do if your current living situation put you in mortal peril but you had no one to turn to?
  • How would you feel if someone you trusted betrayed you to someone with ill intent?
  • What would you do if someone came to you seeking help but you said no?
  • How would you feel if you never found out what happened to that person?

These are the questions at the heart of Consequences, my first historical novella, which is out today. This 35-page story is based on an actual event in the life of Catherine McAuley, a 19th century lay woman (later turned nun) who founded the Sisters of Mercy.

I first heard the story of the domestic servant whom Catherine turned away more than 15 years ago. That act was so in contradiction with who Catherine was and what she stood for that it stayed with me all this time. (It’s said it haunted Catherine as well.) I finally decided a few years ago to tell a fictional account of that servant’s story, to try to better understand what may have happened. Here’s the back cover copy:

Famous for her hospitality, Venerable Catherine McAuley only ever turned away one woman who came to her for help, and that decision haunted her for the rest of her life.

This is that servant’s story.

Dublin – 1824. When a fellow maid is forced to temporarily vacate her position under scandalous circumstances, Margaret finds herself in an elevated position under the watchful eye of their master, the infamous Lord Montague. He believes in total obedience from those in his employ and when she dares to fight back, Margaret is left with no choice but to flee or face his wrath. Desperate, she seeks out a pious spinster named Catherine McAuley who is known for her charity to the poor. The decisions both women make upon meeting will irrevocably change the course of both their lives, as well as everyone in their orbit.

Based on a true story, this heart-pounding historical tale will leave you wondering just how much has really changed in the last two hundred years.

The story is only available in ebook because it is too short to justify the cost of printing a hard copy. It is only available on Amazon (at least for now) and is free to Kindle Unlimited members and $2.99 to everyone else.

Don’t have a Kindle? Don’t worry! Just download the Kindle app to any smart phone, tablet or other device and you’ll be able to read it.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about the historical people and places behind Consequences to give those who have read it more context and hopefully entice those of you who are on the fence to buy it.

Special note for book clubs: If you are in a book club, I encourage you to make this one of your selections. It’s short (should take only about 60 mins to read), cheaper than a physical book and as long as everyone has a way to read it electronically, it would be a great one for discussion. Here are some questions to foster discussion. (Warning: they contain spoilers!) I also have ideas for themed food and music to go along with your discussion.

I’m more than happy to meet via Zoom, Facetime, whatever to talk with your group! Email me at nicole (dot) evelina (at) att (dot) net if you are interested.

The Big Announcement: I Have A Literary Agent!

Amy Collins

So I’ve known this was going to happen for a few weeks now, but…I have an agent! I signed with Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary last week! She is immediately representing the two books I’m working on now (the Minor biography and a historical fiction I’m not ready to talk about yet). Here’s the official announcement.

I’ve known Amy for a few years. We first met when she presented on marketing to the Saturday Writers chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. We really hit it off during the presentation (I’m Hermionie Granger, so teachers and presenters usually love me because they know I am engaged) and through conversation at lunch afterwards. We stayed in touch online and I saw her present again maybe a year or two later at the St. Louis Publisher’s Association. Amy also hosted a lot of online workshops that I attended so were were in contact that way as well as on social media, and became friends.

I knew she was a huge fan and champion of my books, but what I didn’t know was that she was also an international rights agent. When she became a full U.S. agent earlier this month, she called me and asked if I was considering traditional publishing and if I would think about becoming her client. Why, yes, I was! We talked, I asked questions, and sent her what I have been working on. She loved it and needless to say, I said yes! (Never underestimate the power of networking…not that I could have ever predicted this.)

I really, really like Amy and she has a great reputation in the industry and in marketing, so I’m really looking forward to working with her. We’re a great personality fit and what she represents is right in my wheelhouse, so I am predicting a long and fruitful relationship with many, many book sales!

I’m going to go pop some champagne and enjoy being on Cloud 9 for a while!

Flirting with Burnout

Image purchased from Adobe Stock.

I’ve been pushing myself really hard since 2016, the year I started publishing and somehow put out four books in seven months.

Each year I told myself I wouldn’t work so hard, but I kept on and sometimes added even more.

And now, almost four years later, my characters won’t talk to me. That’s a big problem because I can’t write without them.

So I think I may be reaching the burnout point. Luckily, I’m not fully there, but I think I’m getting close.

Looking back on my year, it’s not surprising:

Suffrage Movement Book:

  • Researched two sample chapters.
  • Wrote sample chapters (17,315 words)
  • Co-wrote proposal.
  • Queried agents with co-author.
  • Shelved book.

Virginia and Francis Minor biography:

  • Researched 105,557 words of notes.
  • Took research trip to University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
  • Wrote proposal and sample chapter.
  • Queried agents.
  • Project on hold.

Historical fiction book:

  • 9,041 words of notes (not complete)
  • Project on hold due to project below.

WWII book:

  • Researched 21,634 words
  • Developed detailed 7 page outline, with becomes 40 pages with notes.
  • Did this in three weeks.
  • Wrote 6,218 words.
  • Now the book is refusing to cooperate.

Other writing:

  • Wrote a short story for an anthology – 10,000 words
  • Researching book chapter: The Ethics of Writing Guinevere for the Modern Age.
    • So far at 15,410 words of notes.
    • Have four articles and two books to go.
  • Wrote three articles for NINC newsletter.
  • Reported on 11 sessions from the NINC Conference.

That’s a total of 185,175 words written (not counting the articles and reporting), even if most were notes.

Other 

  • Attended four conferences, speaking at two.
  • Spoke at five other events.
  • Conducted a successful USA Today bestseller list campaign.
  • Read 86 books (not including research) to date. Will likely hit 100 by end of year.

Oh and I have a full-time job.

But yet I hesitate to let myself have a break.

  1. I’m not sure I know how. I don’t know how to person without writering.
  2. I worry someone else will get to this latest book before I do.
  3. I feel like I always need to be doing something.
  4. I worry that taking a break will harm my career.

Yet, I know I have to slow down/stop for a while. The only thing I can muster energy and interest in right now is playing Covet Fashion on my Kindle. That is not a good thing because it costs money, rather than making me money. And it takes up time I could be using for writing. But at least it is a creative outlet, I guess. (And I am a damn good stylist!)

I know how I got myself here; now I just have to figure out how to get out of it.

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!

Victoria Woodhull Goes to Hollywood, or Madame Presidentess Optioned for TV/Movies

Me signing the contract!

These are words I never thought I would be typing, especially before being traditionally published, but… I SOLD THE OPTION TO THE TV/MOVIE RIGHTS OF MADAME PRESIDENTESS!

Yes, you read that right! With the help of TaleFlick, I sold the option to Fortitude International, a major LA-based foreign sales, finance and production company who has worked with many A-list celebrities. Here’s the official press release.

What this means is they now have the right to shop it around Hollywood or anywhere else they may have connections. There is no deal for a movie/TV show yet. But they will try their hardest to make one happen. So cross your fingers, eyes and toes, light some candles or say some prayers…whatever works for you…and wish us all well. Given that Victoria’s story is so relevant right now, I have no doubt that they will make magic happen!

PS – If you are an author and are interested in TaleFlick, use this link and it will count as a referral from me: http://taleflick.refr.cc/nicolee. You’ll get $8 off your first submission.

Reflections on 19 Years and a Wild Dream Achieved

Today is a momentous day for me. Not only does it mark the publication of my sixth book, Mistress of Legend (Guinevere’s Tale Book 3), and a single-volume compendium of The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy, it is also the end of an era. You see, 19 years ago Saturday is when I first heard Guinevere speak in my head. (Yeah, I’m one of those authors – wouldn’t have it any other way.) I tell the whole story in the Author’s Notes to Daughter of Destiny, the first book in the series, but for now suffice it to say she told me she wanted me to tell her story and that it would be unlike any written to date. I’ve always loved Arthurian legend, and Guinevere in particular, so I thought, “why not?” That afternoon when I got home from school (I was a sophomore in college at the time), I sat down at the computer in my dad’s bedroom and began to type the words Guinevere was saying in my head:
I am Guinevere. I was once a queen, a lover, a wife, a mother, a priestess, and a friend. But all those roles are lost to me now; to history, I am simply a seductress, a misbegotten woman set astray by the evils of lust. This is the image painted of me by subsequent generations, a story retold thousands of times. Yet, not one of those stories is correct. They were not there; they did not see through my eyes or feel my pain. My laughter was lost to them in the pages of history….
It goes on for a bit longer, but you get the idea. That prologue is mostly intact in the published version of Daughter of Destiny (though it was shortened a bit). I can’t tell you how many times I rewrote the first few chapters of the book (it was in the double digits for sure) as I learned to find my own voice as an author and developed a plot and style that was doing more than simply aping The Mists of Avalon (which was the book that inspired it). But somehow, Guinevere’s words remained. (Some of you know this story, so feel free to skip down if you have heard it before.) I never thought I would become a published author. For the next 10 years I played around with the book when I had free time from college, then grad school and my first two grownup jobs. But it was just a hobby. Then in 2008 I started taking my writing seriously. The catalyst? Twilight. (Shut up.) By that time I was about halfway through what would become Daughter of Destiny and realized I had something worth reading on my hands. At this point, I still thought the book would be one doorstop of a volume (which is why I’m publishing the compendium). Upon researching the publishing industry, I realized it would have to be trilogy. Fast forward another 10 years – past an agent, countless rejections (okay, I counted, it was like 40), three damn-near book deals with Big 5 publishers, self-publishing and three Book of the Year awards – and here we are, on the precipice of the final book being published. And I have to say I am very, very proud. It may have taken me two years to finish this book (much longer than I know my readers wanted to wait), but I think it was worth it. I set out to give Guinevere back her voice and give her the fair shake I never thought she had from other authors (at least the ones I had read). In my mind, she was a full-fledged woman with hopes, dreams and desires, not the one-dimensional adulteress we usually see. In order to show that I set out to tell her whole life story, not just the part that involves Arthur. That meant dreaming up a youth for her in Daughter and imagining her heading into old age in Mistress of Legend. I feel like I’ve told the best possible story I could and did as much as possible to redeem her from the stain of sin past literature has laid upon her. Apparently others think so as well. I sent an ARC of Mistress to my friend and fellow author Tyler Tichelaar so he could review it on his website. He liked it so much, I ended up using the opening of the review as a blurb on the cover. But the part that brought tears to my eyes was this line: “She has given back to Guinevere, an often overlooked and derided figure, her dignity and endowed her with a true personality.” Mission accomplished. Completing a trilogy is no small feat. There were years upon years where I wondered if I could do it and feared I could not. I remember burning with jealousy the day one of my friends completed her first series. But now all I feel is tremendous accomplishment and pride. I want to jump up and down and yell “I did it!  I did it! I did it! I did it!”
More than that, I feel like each book on the series got better as I grew as a writer. One of my biggest fears was that my story would end up like so many other trilogies and peter out or go totally off track in the last book. (Breaking Dawn, anyone?) In fact, I feel like this is the strongest book in the series, and early reviews are indicating the same. Now I face for the first time in nearly two decades a future without Guinevere. (Well, not totally. She’ll be one of the point of view characters in Isolde’s story whenever I get around to writing that.) I will  be forever grateful for all she as done for me. She was meant to get me started in my career, and I know she will gracefully cede the stage to the characters who come next. I just hope this trilogy is repayment enough.
PS – If you want to catch up, Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen are only $0.99 for a limited time… PPS – For those who know of my obsession with the band Kill Hannah, the reference in the title of this blog to “a wild dream achieved” comes from their song “Believer.”

In Celebration of Indie Authors

I am giving this short speech today at the St. Louis County and St. Louis City libraries as part of Indie Author Day. I wanted all of you who couldn’t join us to be able to read it as well. I hope you enjoy it. Learn more about my speaking engagements

self-e_indieauthorday_logo_tshirt-01-e1462823856596When I was invited to be part of Indie Author Day, I was honored and humbled. I’m very proud to be an independent author and to be part of the first ever national day celebrating our work and our achievements. Our community has grown tremendously in the last five years, and now the books we produce rival – and in some cases outsell – those released through traditional means.

I want to be clear that I have nothing against the traditional publishing industry. I may even still join it in the future, but it isn’t what is right for me as an artist at this moment in my career. And that’s what being an indie is all about: taking control of your writing, your career, and the myriad decisions that go into it. We are no longer the ugly step-children who couldn’t make it traditionally; we are the entrepreneurs who chose to go our own way.

In her novel The Light of Paris, Eleanor Brown writes that the surrealist artists of post-WWI Paris were “making space for themselves without waiting for someone to give them permission.” That is exactly what we are doing as indie authors. We may cross traditional genre boundaries, write about subjects or in time periods that aren’t considered marketable, or simply want to do things on our own schedule. Whatever our reasons, we are producing our art without so much as a by your leave. We have something to say and aren’t waiting for anyone to give us a stage; we are building our own.

Now, being an indie author isn’t without its challenges. In declaring ourselves free of traditional constraints, we also take on the burden of being our own patrons, financing our cover art, editing, production and marketing. We take the financial risk that our work may not find an audience – or at least not enough of one to recover what we’ve invested. But such is the curse of every small business owner, from freelancers and flower shops to barbers and bakeries. We take a leap of faith that with enough hard work and a bit of luck, we will somehow make it.

We also face the seemingly impossible task of making ourselves known in a world where a new book is published every five minutes on Amazon, which is already home to 3.4 million books. But somehow, we still manage to find our audience – no matter how large or small. Whether we use Facebook ads, make book trailers or go the route of hand-selling and attending conferences or speaking engagements – we get out there and let people know we are here and why they should be interested in what we have to say.

Really, that is a challenge for every author, whether indie or traditional. But as indies, we have to do it ourselves, or if we’re lucky, with the help of a publicist. Without the endorsement of a big publishing house, we rely on the help of our tribe, other authors and readers whose loyalty we’ve gained, to provide endorsements of our work. They are our support system, our lifeline in times of crisis and uncertainty, and they can be a connection to new readers.

As indies, we may be perceived as being in this alone, but that is far from the truth. We have a vibrant, supportive community that is more generous than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. I’ve found genuine well-wishes even from people who have written about the exact same subject as I have. In the corporate world, we’d be considered competitors, but I’m coming to realize that here we are really allies. Whether we share resources, write guest posts together or just silently cheer one another on, it is that support that buoys us and keeps us going in and ever-changing industry that doesn’t really know what to do with us.

We’ve broken the traditional paradigm and that scares a lot of people. I say let them be scared; we aren’t. You know who else wasn’t afraid to try something new? Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Ben Franklin. Madame Curie. Thomas Edison. Henry Ford. The Wright Brothers. And we can’t forget the Founding Fathers of our country. Without them we wouldn’t have iPhones, PCs, eyeglasses, X-rays, light bulbs, cars, airplanes or an independent nation – things we now take for granted. While few of us are on that grand of a scale, without us, the publishing world would be lacking in richness, diversity and, our readers would be still be searching for our stories.

It is the independent spirit of the publishing entrepreneur we gather to celebrate today. In the last five years, we’ve gone from being tentative explorers of the brave new world of ebooks to producing top quality work that makes the bestseller lists. Some of members of our community have even become breakout stars – such as Courtney Milan, Colleen Hoover, Bella Andre, Hugh Howey, and many others – authors who regularly outsell those who are traditionally published. We’ve done this through discipline and professionalism, by writing outstanding books, and applying business acumen to our work – for this is no mere hobby; this is our job, regardless of whether we have another that pays the bills.

With the rapid advancement of technology and gradual acceptance of our legitimacy as real authors, in another five years – even in one year – who knows where we can be. We may well be the new norm. How we get there is up to you and me, the indie authors of America. I, for one, am proud to celebrate us and our accomplishments – past, present and future – today.

Happy Publication Day to Madame Presidentess!

Madame Presidentess Cover Hi resPublication days are strange animals. They are exciting and weird and nerve-wracking and busy, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Today’s is especially special for a few reasons:

  1. Madame Presidentess being available to the world is a fulfillment of part of my personal mission; as soon as I heard about Victoria, I wanted to do what I could to get her name back into the history books. By educating (and hopefully entertaining as well) through this book, I’m making a small effort in that direction.
  2. Today will be my first television appearance! If you live in St. Louis, tune into Fox 2 for their 11 a.m. news. They will have me on at least once, perhaps twice, promoting Madame Presidentess.
  3. Those of you who have been with me a while know this is also the last book of my four-book blitz that began in January when I released Daughter of Destiny. That means that soon I will be able to get back to a semi-normal life, and more importantly, to writing new material!

Okay, enough of that. On to the important stuff: where you can buy the book. Amazon does this odd thing where they don’t combine the print and ebooks onto one page for a few days. No idea why and it is very annoying. So you may need separate links, depending on which version you wish to purchase.

amazon-logo-icon nook-icon-150x150 KoboIconWeb ibooks_icon book-button-smashwords-icon

Barnes and Noble is being slow to list the paperback. I’m sorry about that. I’ve done everything I can. Now it’s up to them. 🙁

I hope all of you like the book. It has been a true labor of love and I’m so blessed to have found such an amazing historical figure with such a crazy life to be able to work with. If you do read it, please leave a review, even one sentence, on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews mean the world to authors and help us with marketing. And thank you all again for all of your support! If it wasn’t for you, there would be no reason for me to write.

And one final note: today’s publication date is not an accident. Today is the first day of the Democratic National Convention, at which Hillary Clinton will become America’s first woman to be nominated for President on a major party ticket. Victoria was the first woman to run for President at all; she did so on the ticket of the Equal Rights Party, a party she founded. I chose this date so be able to tie in past female accomplishments with present (and possibly future) groundbreaking events. Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope you see the beauty in that.