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Monday, October 24, 2016

A Prolific Spanish Author and the State of Publishing

He should smile, with all the money he made from
writing! Maybe the mustache is too heavy. 
Manuel Fernández y González (1821–1888) used words to gain notoriety and to finance what his contemporaries considered a “bohemian” lifestyle. He wrote dramas, poetry, and more than 300 (300!) novels. Although he doesn’t quite reach the level of infamy of Edward Bulwer-Lytton in English (the “It was a dark and stormy night” author), his Spanish Wikipedia article describes his writing this way: “a feverish imagination, a certain Andalusian grace and genius, excessive verbosity, especially in dialogue… a defining lack of solid learning, bad taste, and a lack of self-criticism.”

Anyone who wrote (or in later years, dictated) 300 novels can’t be hampered by self criticism. King of the episodic novel (novels published in newspapers over the course of several weeks and, only later, bound as a book), Manuel Fernández y González put the words out there. Period. He worked in an atmosphere of incessant creation because he was paid per page. Of course he wrote a lot of dialogue—it fills up a page faster than anything else. Revision or even just reading over what he’d written wouldn't have contributed to the bottom line. It’s unlikely if not impossible for great literature to come out of such an atmosphere, but I can’t help but stand in awe before that way of doing business.

It's inspiring, in a way. The words are out there for the writer to seize!

Some might consider the current self-publishing atmosphere to be similar to the nineteenth-century word machine. I haven't found a way to follow the volume model, so instead I do a lot of revision in an attempt to ensure that the writing is actually good.

The only reason I've heard of Manuel Fernández y González is that one of his 300 novels was Los siete infantes de Lara (1853), based loosely on the same legend I took inspiration from to write Seven Noble Knights. The novel is almost 150,000 words in the original, many of them uncalled for. But within that haystack, there are plenty of exciting and amusing needles. Twists and turns and surprises. It was first released to the reading public chapter by chapter in a Madrid newspaper that cost one peseta per issue. 

If I had a lot more time on my hands, I would do an edition of Los siete infantes de Lara and present a "good parts" translation (à la The Princess Bride) here in installments, just like the first time it was published. 

As things stand, there already exists in English a much more carefully researched and developed version of this tale with fewer words, a modern storytelling pace, and irresistible medieval details: Seven Noble Knights. You can get it December 15, or you can try your luck at getting it earlier in the Goodreads giveaway! Even sooner than that, you'll be able to see the cover. Thanks for sharing my excitement!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends November 13, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Friday, October 14, 2016

Character Interview with Sorcha Faye from Cara McKinnon's Fay of Skye Series

Q: Tell us a little about where you live.

A: I have spent nearly my entire life on the Fay House grounds on the isle of Skye in Scotland. The house sits up on the cliffs above Loch Fay, near the village of Kinlochfay on the River Fay.

Q: That’s a lot of Fays!

A: My family has lived there for over a thousand years, although the name “Fay” is a recent addition, brought in by a French ancestor. But that was long enough ago that everything in the area bears our name.

Q: What is your family like?

A: Large, and loud! When we get together for clan gatherings, births, weddings, and wakes, everyone talks at once and we sound like a barnyard. We squabble sometimes, but we love each other very much. I don’t spend much time with them, though, as they live all throughout the Highlands and I am almost always on Skye. Recently one of our far-flung members, a distant cousin, returned to us from America. Her name is Etta.

Q: If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?

A: At the moment, I would like to have money to help improve Fay House. While there was no Duchess of Fay, the funds for the house were tied up by solicitors and trustees. While they’d release money for major repairs, the house has very few modern amenities, and I would like to refurbish some of the ancient furniture and repaint and paper several of the rooms.

Q: Do you have any special magical talents?

A: I have very strong magical intuition. I can often tell what other people are thinking and feeling, and I get hunches that warn me not to do some things, or help me decide to do others. I also have frequent visions of the future.

Q: Last question—You can see the future. Is there anything you can tell us about what is coming?

A: Magic visions don’t need to come true. There is no such thing as fate, or destiny. My visions are based on possibilities—things that might happen, or are likely to happen. But I can say that what worries me are the choices we make for dark reasons, for jealousy or envy, for hate or anger. Those lead to dark futures. Love, acceptance, understanding, and empathy are the ways to the light, and peace.

Q: That’s good advice. Thanks for answering!

A: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me!


Cara McKinnon wrote her first fantasy romance at the age of six, about a unicorn couple that falls in love and has adventures (there is also pie). Now she writes about humans falling in love and having adventures, but she can't quite stop including magic.

She loves history and historical romance, so she decided to set her books in an alternate Victorian era where magic is not only real, but a part of everyday life.

Cara attended the best writing school in the world, Seton Hill University, where she received an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and found her writing tribe. She lives on the East Coast of the United States with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.

Visit her on her website, where you can find more information about the Fay of Skye series, writing and romance, and ways to get in touch!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Get Ready for Seven Noble Knights: A Giveaway!

Seven Noble Knights is still faceless,
but not the in same way a lot of
historical novel covers are.  
Although it looks, to my dismay, as though Seven Noble Knights is still faceless to the world because the cover is not yet finished (it's being perfected as of this moment), today us still the start of something wonderful. The first Goodreads giveaway of Seven Noble Knights is open today!

Because the cover is not yet finalized, these ten prepublication copies have a cover that will not see print beyond this contest. That's right, it's an edition of ten, count 'em, ten copies only. That's what you call a bibliographic rarity. Go ahead, put your name in the hat for the book that's been 1000 years in the making—and still doesn't have a cover! Just click on "Enter Giveaway!" below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends November 13, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Enter for your preview copy now! If you subscribe to my newsletter, you got a nice little present today with much more instant gratification. More such goodies to come in November, so it's not too late to sign up here or type in your email address at the top of the page!

UPDATE 10/13/16: The cover has been finalized. All will be revealed near the beginning of November.

My newsletter subscribers will be the first to see it! Become a part of this exclusive group here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Seventh Anniversary

The insane happiness of true love 
Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. If I were to write down everything that is wonderful about my husband, no one would ever believe it. It seems impossible that so many cherished qualities could reside in one person. Just take a look at this guest post he wrote about love on the occasion of Valentine's Day, 2014, and you may get some notion of how close he comes to perfection in human form. For the purposes of this blog, it's relevant that he's my biggest fan and proofreads everything I write, from epic novels to correspondence. I couldn't have kept up this blog, written two novels, and had them published without his unflagging support.

I wish I didn't have to report that the love of my life passed away at the end of July.

Forgive my writing if it's less than perfect these days.

I dedicated Awash in Talent to him, and he was very proud to have had a part in my little book. I also wrote a big thanks to him in the back of Seven Noble Knights, but I'm sorry to say I was saving that little gift for "later," so he never got to see it.

He was ill for a long time and we never knew. He always seemed like the picture of health and youthful vigor until that last nightmare week. Even then, covered head to toe in tubes and wires and restraints to keep him in the hospital bed, when doctors would ask how he felt, he responded, "I'm fine." Maybe he was sticking to social convention, but I prefer to think he was responding on the basis of the health of his soul. It was always unencumbered and beautiful. Never had a sick day in its life, even as his body gave out.

I wrote a blog post for each of our anniversaries. Some are all about how great our marriage was and some are more tangential. Some are long and detailed and others are short for lack of adequate words.

2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010

As I read these over, I'm struck by how little time was required for our love to become exponentially truer, bigger, and better. The love of your life is the love of your life, no matter how little time you get to spend with him. It's appropriate that time never seemed to touch my husband. He was always as fresh and new as the first bloom of springtime.

Believe me, I appreciate that not everyone gets even a chance at something as great as our marriage. I don't know if it's possible, but I hope the slight inconvenience of death won't stop our love from continuing to grow and improve the world. It is my greatest achievement that I love and am loved by such an extraordinary human being.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kindle Unlimited Swap Meet with $100 Giveaway

I’m participating in a Kindle Unlimited Swap Meet this month with over 20 other authors. We're some the great picks of the Kindle Scout program, published by Kindle Press. ALL of our books are available to read for free through the Kindle Unlimited program. 

If you’re not already a KU member, you can sign up for a month-long free trial and read as many books as you want — for FREE!

One of the books is Forest of Demons by Debbie Cassidy.  

If you liked my paranormal urban fantasy novel, Awash in Talent, I think you’ll like Forest of Demons. It’s another great addition to the fantasy arena. Be sure to check it out and start reading today for free

And if you haven’t read Awash in Talent yet, you can also read it for free this month through Kindle Unlimited, or if you are part of the secret society of Kindle Fire owners, watch your device on September 15 for an exclusive 99-cent deal (70% off!).

And then check out ALL the books in the Swap Meet this month. Many of them are up to 70% off, and there is something for everyone, from fantasy, to mystery, to romance. Read them all!

While you’re there, be sure to enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card. You can enter by helping to spread the word about these great Kindle Unlimited books.

I hope you find a new book this month that you like! Let me know if you do — I’ll add it to my TBR list as well.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hoppin' Around the Blogosphere with Awash in Talent

Awash in Talent, the little novel that could, is celebrating a super secret Kindle Fire sale on September 15 with a week-long blog tour with some great author hosts.


Today, finally hear what Beth has to say when you meet her without her overpowering sister, Emily, in a character interview at A.J. Culey's blog!

On Tuesday, delve into the fraught world of people who can read minds at Cara McKinnon's blog with an excerpt!

Andi Adams finds out how this sweetly weird book came into being—the characters made me do it!—on Wednesday.

Thursday, J.L. Gribble asks me probing questions about trying to keep paranormal fiction in line and the universal nature of YA, complete with an excerpt at the archaeological dig site!

Jennifer Loring ends the madness on Friday with Emily's zany antics in a character interview. Can her author get her to sit still long enough to answer?

Extra unexpected bonus: scary good author Norman Prentiss features Awash in Talent in an author spotlight (you may have to scroll down to September 2016 if you're reading this in the future). This goes nicely with an intelligent and much-appreciated new review at Amazon.

Many thanks to these terrific authors for hosting me and the crazy, underdog-filled book I dedicated to the love of my life. Thanks for stopping by!

And you didn't hear this from me: If you have a Kindle Fire, don't tell anyone, but Awash in Talent will be available to you and you alone for 99 cents on Thursday, September 15. Look for it then!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mozarabic Art at Unusual Historicals

The author stands with her villainess
in Barbadillo del Mercado, Spain 
Today at Unusual Historicals, I get to rhapsodize about the unique art phenomenon of Mozarabic manuscript painting.

It's the art form my characters in Seven Noble Knights would have been most familiar with.

Yes, lots of bizarre, brightly colored pictures! Check it out!

Thanks for stopping by.