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Monday, September 28, 2015

Ready for Launch!

The story of Seven Noble Knights was a "bestseller" in the
Middle Ages and Renaissance. Can it capture readers' hearts today? 
Seven Noble Knights has benefitted from programs at Grub Street already. Now it looks as if Grub Street could be the deciding factor in the success of its launch! I've been accepted into a program I heard about in 2014 and immediately filed away as something I would probably never get to do because it seemed so prestigious and because it's for authors with a book coming out.

I'm now an author with a book coming out! So of course I applied to the seminar of my dreams, the Launch Lab. Twelve authors with book releases in the next year (still hard to believe that's me!) get together with industry experts to plan a book launch that makes sense for their goals, personalities, books, and resources. While I've come up with a few random ideas for getting the word out about Seven Noble Knights, the number of books published each year means that someone trying to go it alone has zero chance of getting noticed. Launch Lab gives my book a fighting chance!

So I'll start now: please notice Seven Noble Knights, the best medieval epic set in Spain you will ever come across. Brave knights, beautiful ladies, and a bloody cucumber... (Maybe I'll find some people who'll commiserate with me about my struggles with using a bloody cucumber as a marketing tactic.)

I've put everything into Seven Noble Knights: blood, sweat, tears, time, international travel, vocabulary, research, sacrifice, and oh so much love. I guess it's time to put some domestic travel and money in, too. I'll be taking the train to the first meeting this very week.

Wish me luck! I'll report on what happens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

World Rhino Day 2015

It's World Rhino Day! How are you celebrating rhinos and helping their cause?

All five species are beautiful examples of cornerstone species that mean the world to their environments. All five species are in trouble.

The smiling Javan rhino. About 60 individuals.
The uniquely harry Sumatran rhino. Fewer than 100.
The real-life unicorn, the Indian rhino. About 3000 individuals.
The beauty queen black rhino. About 4,500.
The gentle giant, the white rhino. About 19,000. 
In Africa, two or three rhinos are murdered every day for their horns, so these numbers, sadly, are only decreasing. I look forward to a World Rhino Day when we can celebrate without thinking about these insane facts, when humans will no longer harass rhinos, who never asked for anything from us.

Except maybe a little love.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A lovely surprise: Five-Star Review of Unpredictable Worlds

Well darn. I've had to modify the cover of Unpredictable Worlds. What terrible inconvenience has led to this drastic measure? A five-star review at Readers' Favorite (which, in truth, is the best thing in the world for a writer!).

Any review is a big deal for me. A five-star recommendation from this lovely institution includes a peachy-keen silvery sticker to put on the book's cover.

A wonderful alchemy of words and circumstances collided to find just the right reviewer. Amazingly, Carine Engelbrecht "got" the book. Read it in full here, and see two major highlights here:

For a collection of stories that stray delightfully off the beaten track of cookie cutter characters and plot lines without any roadside surprises, you can do a lot worse than venturing around inside Unpredictable Worlds: Stories by Jessica Knauss. While the stories are widely divergent, they are grouped around a series of themes that serve like hubs for the author's imagination to take off....

I enjoyed taking a trip through the author's imagination—that is exactly what Unpredictable Worlds: Stories by Jessica Knauss was, a journey of wonder. 

I'm impressed that the reviewer loves the rhino stories. I've started a rhino novel, but since I didn't know how I would find people who both love to read fiction and find out about rhinos, I abandoned that idea. This review gives me hope and the idea to maybe resurrect it as a shorter piece.

I get a particular frisson of authorial delight when the reviewer singles out some stories that never found a home before I published them in Unpredictable Worlds. Many of the stories in this book have been published elsewhere, and therefore had that outside validation any writer seeks. It's music to my heart that a reader I've never met is reading and enjoying stories that mean the world to me, but haven't made an obvious impression on anyone else before this point. Calling "Threads Woven" "a rich tapestry of creativity and character" when it's had no other feedback (other than form rejection letters)—I wonder if any reader knows how easy it is to give an author the ultimate gift. It goes to show: you never know who is going to respond to which story.

It's nothing short of wonderful that the reviewer points out the relationship between some of the stories. True interaction with my texts. I couldn't ask for more.

So here's that new cover, proudly displaying the shiny five-star badge. Plans to make the ebook available in venues other than Amazon have been in the works for a while now. Find your updates here!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Love in the Air

This weekend marked the sixth anniversary of my husband and me.

Time is such a bizarre construct. We're still newlyweds, and yet when we look at our wedding video, we appear to be children. Maybe it's because we had no idea of the adventures that awaited us. Maybe it's because our love has only grown. It seemed infinite on our wedding day, but our love is much bigger, wider, deeper, and stronger now.

True love grows and develops. It occupies the world without detracting from it.

Look out, world! One day, love will be so enormous, it will obliterate all the hate.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

I treated myself to The Price of Blood a few months ago. I say "treated" because I had high hopes and it met every one of them.

I was looking for a novel that immersed me in a time long past. You'll think your memories of this book really took place a thousand years ago.

I wanted specifically to know what it would have been like to be Queen Emma, faced with important men and Viking attacks. Bracewell's Emma is easy to sympathize with and the historical stakes are clear without it ever feeling like a textbook. I took away a vivid image of Emma and Athelstan looking out at London from the castle that I don't think comes from any film I've seen. It comes completely from Bracewell's evocative skill.

I wanted characters whose motives I could understand while the plot maintained historical authenticity. I didn't expect to be so disgusted by King Aethelred while still feeling the same political and family pressures that made him act in such outwardly bizarre ways. I didn't expect the Elgiva subplot to be so fascinating and to give the reader another female character possibly even more vibrant and true than Emma.

This novel exceeded any expectations I could have had in the way it keeps the suspense going even when the snippets from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at the beginning of the section give away some of what's going to happen. I found Emma's big scene at the end of the novel, where she really comes into her own, so amazing as to make me want to recommend the book to every reader, everywhere. It's even more amazing now that I know the scene was the author's creation, an imagining of what must have happened in order to produce the results seen the history books.

The Price of Blood is all that I hoped a historical novel could be. It's even more impressive because it's the second in a trilogy.

Novels I've Read in 2015: 
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Along the Far Shores by Kristin Gleeson

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A Kiss at Kihali by Ruth Harris

Mermaids in Paradise  by Lydia Millet

Raven Brought the Light by Kristin Gleeson

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet

The Map of Chaos by Félix J. Palma