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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Today at Unusual Historicals: María de Padilla, Royal Mistress

Reenactors portray María de Padilla and King Pedro
in the Royal Palace in Sevilla. 
The theme this month at Unusual Historicals is "Mistresses." For my turn, it could be none but María de Padilla, whose legal status as queen was never confirmed. Nonetheless, she is more famous and beloved than many historical queens. The few facts that have come down about her make for great historical novel fodder! Read all about it at Unusual Historicals today.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Clubs, Authorial Fame, and Real Life

Look, Ma! I'm famous! 
As part of my deliberate, full-of-intention book launch for Seven Noble Knights, I arranged an interview with my local newspaper. It came out last week and looks impressive, taking up the entire content of page A3. (If you click the picture, you should be able to enlarge and read the article.)

I unexpectedly got two calls from local well-wishers when they saw the article. All right, I thought, today St. Helens, tomorrow the world! On Friday, I learned that Seven Noble Knights is the official selection of the Literary Divas Book Club for February 2017. I think the choice is a direct result of the article in the paper. I prepared for book clubs with a set of discussion questions in the back of the book, and I'm happy to visit or Skype with a book club with members who enjoy historical fiction—just contact me. I'll make an appearance at the Literary Divas meeting, which will demand an in-person performance of my authorial persona.

The authorial persona is the face an author presents to the world, an integral part of her "brand" in this new age of authorship. My persona is based heavily on the real me, but as it's developed, I've emphasized only the fun, exciting, or humorous parts of me. I figure no one wants to read books from a gloomy Gus. When circumstances have become too frustrating to bear in silence, I've blogged about them from a humorous angle to make them easier to swallow. See my posts about living in a hotel for nine months in 2013 or getting an apartment in Arizona with no furniture in 2011 for examples.

Last July, something happened to me that is not funny at all, ever, and that changed everything about my life down to the finest detail. I'm talking about the death of my beloved husband. I've written about it a couple of times here, but overall, I'm no Helen Macdonald (author of H is for Hawk) and no one wants to read about my grief, especially before I've had time to frame it with a tangible piece of wisdom.

It hasn't been easy to gauge how much of the truth to reveal during Seven Noble Knights' book release. Sometimes I mention my husband deliberately, and sometimes I gloss over his existence. Both options feel wrong. I hate to mention that death has already parted us, but we had an insanely happy marriage that deserves celebration. If I try to gloss over my grief, there's always the risk that people will ask a question whose answer cannot be fudged, and I will go too deeply into territory I don't want to visit publicly. During the book launch, these have usually been questions about my writing process and my future writing plans. My husband's love was woven throughout my life, even my writing process, and now that he's gone, I'm faced with existential questions about whether to move forward that must be answered before I can answer how.

I completed both of my novels before my husband became ill, and I dedicated both of them to him. When the page proofs of Seven Noble Knights came back with my paragraph about him in the present tense, it was intensely painful to have to remind the publisher that my husband can only be referred to in the past tense now. It doubly hurt that I had never shown the dedication to him, so he never got to see it. I had been saving it as a surprise.

My mother found a typo in the published edition, and I don't know whether it's been corrected. In the second-to-last chapter, I refer to a character as a "young window." It should be "widow." I think the typo was a Freudian slip, because I didn't want to be a widow when I first wrote the passage any more than I do now, to the extent that I didn't even want to type the word.

But these are not the anecdotes that sell a medieval epic, are they?

In the newspaper interview, I approached this issue subtly. Notice that I don't go into why I've returned home to my mother, and I only mention that because of the local connection. In any other context, it would be a nonissue. I refer to my husband simply as "late." Such a small word doesn't describe the wonders of our marriage or the yawning black abyss that is my grief—because no one wants to know about that. It provides only the bare fact. In order to maintain the positivity of my authorial persona, that small word may be as far as I can go.

The part about the idea for the sequel is true. Recently, I've recuperated hope for life, and I hope that I will actually do some writing on that project soon.

I've discussed where to draw the line with a couple of psychology professionals, and their conclusion was to "Do what makes you comfortable." Not easy, since I haven't felt comfortable about anything for more than six months! If you have brilliant ideas about how much of my own sad story to tell as part of my authorial persona, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Unique Events in 2017 for the Seven Noble Knights Paperback Release

Historical author Maria Grace's feature, Writing Superheroes. Learn my mild-mannered secret identity and how it's actually full of superpowers, too.

The Facebook Launch Party, January 14, 7–9 pm EST (4–6 pm for us Westerners). Find out all the medieval gossip, ask the author any question you want, and win prizes including a softcover edition of Seven Noble Knights and gift certificates to La Tienda, the premiere source for delicious and beautiful imports from Spain. Find out everything about the Facebook Launch Party here.

Paperback release day! Seven Noble Knights, the softcover edition, will be available at the following links, and you can preorder a copy any time.

An appearance in the St. Helens local newspaper gives my opinion on ebooks and the lure of historical fiction.

A great conversation with my pals, the Book Doctors, at the Huffington Post. They mention a blog post about the Pitchapalooza where we met in person, and that's here

A glowing review appears in February's issue of Historical Novel Review, issue 79. It makes me glow when I read it, anyway!

Seven Noble Knights is the official February pick of the St. Helens Literary Divas Book Club. The author will make a special appearance and good times will be had! Contact the author to arrange a Skype or in-person visit for your book club.

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours will organize another tremendous blog tour with reviews, interviews, and prizes.

As 2017 matures, you'll get rare opportunities to meet me, the author, in person, and get your paperback copy signed:

The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Historical Novel Society Conference in Portland, Oregon

If you just can't get enough Seven Noble Knights, many wonders await you at the Grand Book Launch Blog Tour and these entertaining and informative posts.

Meet The Characters

The World of Seven Noble Knights

"Shrouds and Stones" is a free prequel story, a companion to Seven Noble Knights that describes the "origin story" of the villainess, Doña Lambra. Enjoy it in your choice of three formats for free. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Black stone, white stone

I'm not the only one who's had the worst year on record. It's nice not to be alone, but of course I'd rather have a more pleasant quality in common with so many people.

My beloved husband—my biggest fan, who never let me down, who is my definition of what it takes to be a good human being—died in late July 2016. Having to say or write that still stops me in my tracks. But it's been five months, and the best way to honor my husband is with a life that's about more than sadness. Slowly, painfully, I'm making plans and dreaming dreams again.

This year had some highs, as well, which deserve celebration.

December 2015: My husband and I moved back to Arizona with purpose and joyfulness.

March 2016: Awash in Talent was picked up by Kindle Press.

May: My husband and I had the best two weeks in Spain anyone has ever had. (We met Manolo García!) I'll have to blog about that trip in order to spread the joy even more.

June: Awash in Talent was published by Kindle Press.

July: I learned a lot about my friends and family and the power of these bonds.

December: Seven Noble Knights was published by Bagwyn Books.
I earned a modest placement as Publicity Assistant at Hawthorne Books, to start in January.

My husband (can you believe my luck!) illustrates the useful skill of
finding beauty among the thorns. April 2016 
I started this second part of the post in the middle of July, when I still believed my husband would recover and spend another 20 years with me. It's a partial translation of a 1990 song by Manolo García, "Canta por mí" (meaning "sing for my sake," "sing in my place").

S/he met the past along the way,
and looked at it and could not cry.
Between dusk and dawn,
s/he did nothing but let him/herself go.

On a peach-colored day,
when we're all free,
when we can eat rocks,
and no one is better than anyone else,
sing for me
if I'm not here.

The day is coming when we will be as pure
as a summer sky on the sea.
I'll sing for you
if you're not here.

This song is the most idealistic song I've ever heard. It's about spiritual awakening and hope for humanity. Note that the ideal day is far enough off that either the singer or the listener will no longer be with us, but not so far off that they'll both be dead.

Now that my true love is gone, we must be close to that peach-colored day. I know who I'll be singing for. In the meantime, I plan to do things that make him proud: show kindness, promote humanity, and express what inspiration comes to me through writing.

Happy 2017 to us all.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lincoln Cole's Raven's Peak

Lincoln Cole's popular horror thriller Raven's Peak begins the World on Fire series.
A quiet little mountain town is hiding a big problem. When the townsfolk of Raven's Peak start acting crazy, Abigail Dressler is called upon to discover the root of the evil affecting people. She uncovers a demonic threat unlike any she's ever faced and finds herself in a fight just to stay alive.
Abigail rescues Haatim Arison from a terrifying fate and discovers that he has a family legacy in the supernatural that he knows nothing about. Now she's forced to protect him, which is easy, but also to trust him if she wants to save the townsfolk of Raven's Peak. Trust, however, is something hard to have for someone who grew up living on the knife's edge of danger.
Can they discover the cause of the town's insanity and put a stop to it before it is too late?

A world of intrigue for only $3.49, or free with Kindle Unlimited.

Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

He has won more than twelve literary awards for his novels from Reader's Favorite, Literary Classics, New Apple, and many other organizations. He has also reached the top #50 rank for all books in the Kindle store on Amazon and bestseller in many different categories.

If you would like to follow and find out what is happening with Lincoln, sign up at:

...and get two free stories!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Meet the Characters: Exclusive Interview with Gonzalo González from SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS

Eduardo Verastegui captures the rakishness
of young Gonzalo. 
Seven Noble Knights is coming out in only two days! Amid all the hubbub, I've somehow managed to pin down young Gonzalo González, known to his family as Gonzalico. He's recently had a busy time, too, preparing for the wedding of his uncle Ruy Blásquez to Doña Lambra, but now, in late summer 974, he's relaxing in Barbadillo with his brothers, mother, uncle, and new aunt. We sit by the fire while maids, pages, and brothers go in and out. Although he's young and a bit quick on the draw, I can tell he's a good guy.

JKK: How did you end up in Barbadillo with your aunt, Doña Lambra? You killed her cousin Álvar Sánchez and, admit it, overreacted when her page threw a blood-soaked cucumber at you.

GG: Don't get me started on that bloody cucumber. But Count García ruled Álvar's death an accident, and my uncle says Lambra forgave us for everything.

JKK: She was pretty upset.

GG: Yes, Lambra can really throw a fit! But I mean, we're here with her now, so everything must be all right. We're family!

Doña Lambra in one of her rages. 

JKK: You've got quite a family. Tell me about your uncle.

GG: I've known Ruy Blásquez forever, and my brothers have known him even longer than I have. He's a great uncle. He taught me a lot of what I know about warfare.

JKK: You seemed a little impatient with him at the siege of Zamora.

GG: Well, no, if it hadn't been for the incident with the child, I would've followed my uncle's measured, considered, experienced advice—orders.

JKK: Does he seem that old to you? He's only 35.

GG: You're even older than that. Would you have left that brave child to fend off the Moorish host all by himself?

JKK: Yes, Gonzalico, everyone knows you're about as young as it gets. You were only knighted last year. But honestly, I can't imagine myself in a situation like siege of Zamora, so who knows what I would do? I might stick with my principles, like you, or I might err on the side of caution, like your uncle. How has your uncle been enjoying his time in Barbadillo?

GG: I really haven't seen much of him since we got here. I'm not sure what we're doing here, anyway. I've been pacing the entry road on sentry duty just for something to do. My uncle Ruy Blásquez stays away all day and doesn't say much in the evening. I think he's planning something big for us to do.

JKK: Any idea what it could be?

GG: Well, my uncle recently sent our father all the way to Córdoba to collect a debt from Almanzor. Ruy Blásquez might have amazing plans to make an incursion to the south. Maybe it's all leading to retaking Toledo, the ancient Visigothic capital, for Castile!

JKK: I truly hope for all the best for you and your six brothers. It's been a pleasure.

The crest of Salas de los Infantes shows 
Gonzalico and his family. 

Seven Noble Knights, the only novel with Doña Lambra and Gonzalo González, is available for preorder now. The Grand Book Launch Blog Tour has already kicked off, and be sure to attend the Facebook launch party on December 15 for fun and prizes.

Preorder links: Kindle • Indiebound Softcover• Amazon Softcover • Barnes and Noble Softcover • Add it to your To Read list at Goodreads

Please enjoy a prequel story that shows Doña Lambra's origins—how she met Justa, how she lost her parents, and how she went from spoiled girl to resentful lady and, in Seven Noble Knights, reluctant bride. It's available for free download in three formats here, and it's called "Shrouds and Stones."

Remember to throw your name into the Goodreads hat to win one of three first edition softcovers. Giveaway ends tomorrow—December 14. The softcover edition won't be released until January 16, so get it early!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway