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.”

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:      

amazon-logo-icon     book-button-smashwords-icon 

add-to-goodreads-button

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.

Camelot’s Queen Publication Day!

My second publication day is here! Before we get into my musings, here are the buy links for the Camelot’s Queen print (Amazon and Barnes and Noble) and ebook. Audio will be available in May. (If the paperback isn’t showing up on Barnes and Noble give them a few hours; they can be slow.)

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

Camelot's Queen 3DLet me start by saying that Camelot’s Queen is the book I’m most proud of to date (and I’m including my two as-of-yet unreleased books in that statement). It is long, but I think it really shows what I can do as a writer and adds a lot to the collective Arthurian legend.

You would think I’d be less nervous than for the first one, but I’m actually more. I think it’s because I have no idea how people are going to take this book. I mean, I expected some push back on the first book because it’s a totally different Guinevere than people are used to, especially if they come at the books expecting the perfect, docile Guinevere of some stories. But since most authors haven’t explored her early life, I had some leeway.

I explained this in the author’s notes to Camelot’s Queen, but I wrote this book with no small amount of trepidation. This is the part of the story everyone knows and loves. Everyone has their own interpretation, vision, and expectations, so no matter what I do, I’m going to let someone down. I have made the choices I made for a reason, but I know they won’t sit well with everyone, especially given that Morgan’s role is different from what you would expect and I’ve given a completely different reason for Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot.

Not only that, this story delves into a few controversial and dark issues, including rape, physical and mental abuse, and PTSD. Guinevere’s kidnapping and rape is part of the canon of Arthurian legend. Just how badly she was abused (if at all) varies by the telling, but to leave this event out simply because it is distasteful would be disingenuous to both the tradition and to readers. I have done my best to treat these issues with respect and not use them simply as plot points but to show how they affected the characters’ lives and brought about change, as they do for victims in real life. However, I know some people will take me to task for it.

That being said, this isn’t a totally dark book. There are moments of happiness and scenes I truly cherish, especially with characters I invented. I look forward to all of you meeting Sobian, the pirate-turned-assassin-and-spy from Arthur’s past and Mayda and Elga, the Saxon sisters who will continue to cause trouble into book 3. I also can’t wait for you to get to some of my favorite scenes: there are three with Aggrivane that are close to my heart, I love the battles, and the Holy Grail was so much fun. I especially can’t wait for all of you to see the twists, especially the one with Morgan and Arthur and also the circumstances leading up to the end of the book.

I’m going to take a deep breath now and admit my baby is in the world. She’s no longer mine; she belongs to the readers, too. I hope you all like her!

PS – I’m guesting over at Celebrate with a Book and Kate Hill’s blog.

PLUS, Daughter of Destiny is a special feature at Many Books today ($0.99 sale).

Feel free to drop by and say hi and/or spread the word!

How You Can Help Make Daughter of Destiny Success

daughter-of-destiny-ebook-cover-iAs many of you know, today is publication day for Daughter of Destiny! The buy links are on that page in case you wish to do so. The only glitch so far is that print isn’t showing up on Barnes & Noble (not sure why), so if you’d like to get a print copy, I recommend going through Amazon.

Now that the book is out into the wild, here are a few things you can do to help make it successful:

  1. Buy it – It doesn’t matter to me whether you buy print or ebook (or audio when it comes out). I’m just happy you are interested. It’s available pretty much everywhere online, both in the US and internationally. Imgram should be trying to get it into mainstream bookstores and I’ll work on getting it into indie bookstores later this year.
  2. Leave a review –  Reviews are SO important for authors, especially indies, because they give us credibility and certain avenues of promotion aren’t open (Bookbub, certain Amazon algorithms, etc.) until we have a certain number of reviews. Of course, we all prefer glowing reviews, but please be honest. Amazon and Goodreads are probably best, but please leave a review wherever you like. (FYI, Amazon is cracking down on friends/family reviews, so you may not want to mention it if we know each other…just a thought.)
  3. Tell your friends – Word of mouth is still the best tool any author has. If you liked it, please tell everyone you know in person, on social media and however else you can!
  4. Ask your local library to acquire it – Most libraries have online forms where you can suggest a purchase, but you may need to go in person and ask them to buy it. I know from experience that libraries are usually very open to buying patron requests. And as a lifelong library patron, I can’t tell you what it would mean to me to see it on the shelf!
  5. Ask for it at your indie bookstore – I’m listed in the Ingram catalog of books, so any indie bookstore should be able to purchase Daughter of Destiny for you.
  6. Suggest it to your book club – I LOVE book clubs and am happy to visit yours in person (if I can) or via Skype. I have a whole page dedicated to book club resources, so please keep me in mind.
  7. Share photos – Take pictures of yourself and/or your friends/family/book club reading Daughter of Destiny and send them to me. And if you see the book in the wild (in the library, on a bookstore shelf, etc.) please snap a pic and let me know. I’ll start a section on my website as soon as I get the first photo and I will share them on Instagram and other social media, crediting you.
  8. Follow me on social media – On the top right are links to my social media accounts. I’d love to have you as a follower! If you see something that you like, please comment on it or pass it on (RT, share, etc.)
  9. Have fun! – This should probably be #1. I want everyone to enjoy reading my books, so I hope you have the time of your life while you read them. I know I did while I wrote them!

I’m sure I’m missing something. What am I missing? How do you plan to share the love?

And thank you all for your constant support. I couldn’t do this without you!

Publication Announcement!

Image purchased from Dreamstime

Image purchased from Dreamstime

This is the blog post I’ve been waiting four years to write. I’m excited to announce that you will be seeing four (maybe even five) books from me in 2016!

That’s because I’ve made the decision to become an independent author. I’m even in the process of setting up my own company, which will be my publication house.

Here’s the publication schedule:

  1. Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 1) – January 1
  2. Camelot’s Queen (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 2) – March 23
  3. Been Searching for You (formerly He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) – May 23
  4. Madame Presidentess – July 25

And if the stars align, I’d love to have Mistress of Legend (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 3) published by the end of 2016, but that may be a bit ambitious, so I’m not making any promises yet.

All of these books will be available in e-book, print and audio formats. (Audio may come later than the others, depending on the production schedule. I’ll keep you updated.)

These books are the beginning of three series that I’ll continue in years to come:

  1. Arthurian Legend – Obviously, this includes the three Guinevere’s Tale books, but I also plan to write Tristan and Isolde’s story (Isolde demanded it when she walked into my head all those years ago), as well as several novellas. I’m also planning a companion book that tells you more about the details of my Arthurian world – you know, all the stuff that didn’t fit into the books.
  2. Love in the Windy CityBeen Searching for You was supposed to be a standalone novel. However, my beta readers immediately came back and demanded more, as have several contest judges. I’m pretty sure that there will be two more books in this series. I don’t want to give away more than that until all of you get to read it and tell me if you agree there’s more to Annabeth and Alex’s story (and Miles, Mia, and Nick).
  3. Heroines of the 19th CenturyMadame Presidentess (about Victoria Woodhull) is the first of four books about three feisty, mostly unknown, real-life women of the 19th century. Victoria was the first female to run for President in the United States. Another woman I will write about was a Morman with dreams of a new life in California, who unexpectedly became involved with Indians in the Wild West (I think her story will be two books). The other is a French woman who made a certain brand of high-end wine a household name in a time when women simply did not work. Though they are from vastly different worlds, none of these ladies lived the traditional role set out for women of their time and the world is better for it.

Which one will I focus on once the third Guinevere book is out? I have no idea. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I have 22 books floating around in my head, so it will really be up to the muse and the characters what comes next. Well, that and how all of you react to the books once you can read them.

As many of you know, this has been a long journey with many ups and downs, and I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for all of you sticking with me, whether you’ve been here from the beginning or are just hopping on for the ride. I plan to keep you apprised of every step in the process and will give additional information as soon as I can. Look for cover reveals, early sample chapters, giveaways and more as publication dates approach.

Eventually I’ll get to the fun stuff like scheduling book signings and virtual tours (hope to get to meet some of you via Skype!), but right now I’m working on securing a cover designer, map illustrator (for the Guinevere books) and editor. Plus learning everything I can about self publishing. Before long it will be time to firm up the audio deal. Every day brings a new challenge, but it’s something I am having so much fun learning. For me, this is a career and a business, so I want to get it right.

Curious as to why I chose to self-publish? Find out my reasoning on Thursday, August 28, over at Spellbound Scribes.

Are you excited that my books will finally be out there? Which one(s) are you most looking forward to? Anything in particular you want to see in terms of marketing?