Sunday, December 28, 2014

Broader Distribution vs. KDP Select

Yesterday I posted about putting The Crown in the Heather permafree as an e-book on all channels. Today, as promised, I'm expounding on why I did that. My apologies if this is lengthy and a little disjointed -- it's a very complex issue. I could write ten blog posts about it, but I try not to wade too long in the muck, so I'm going to be as brief as possible.

Last year I put my two standalone books, Uneasy Lies the Crown and In the Time of Kings, into KDP Select, an Amazon digital publishing program where you agree to offer books exclusively on Amazon, meaning they can't be available for download anywhere else. (Since 97% of my readers were Kindle owners, this made sense for me). In return, your books are available in the Kindle Owner's Lending Library (KOLL), where Prime subscribers can 'borrow' one book per month. THe author then gets paid for that borrow. Also, the author is allowed to offer their book for free for seven days in a 90-day period, or as a bargain book for 5 days as a Kindle Countdown. These perks can increase your book's visibility in the Kindle store. Both of mine benefited from it. So I put the Isabella Books (Isabeau and The King Must Die) in Select, too. Then, when I launched Say No More, a new genre for me, I put it directly in Select, which turned out to be a good thing. All was well, relatively speaking.

For a while.

And then ... it wasn't anymore. Sales stalled. Borrows dwindled. I thought putting out a new release (although not in Select) would provide a boost, but I'm still waiting to see that.

The only books I didn't place in Select, and never have, were those in The Bruce Trilogy, because CITH was part of a boxed set this year -- and I'm glad I kept those books up elsewhere ... for reasons I, and no one else, could foresee.

This summer, Amazon rolled out their Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, which allows subscribers to borrow ten books at a time for $9.99 a month. Not all Kindle books on Amazon are available in KU. Even so, if you're a voracious reader, this is a great deal because there is still a lot to choose from. If you're an author of epic novels that take a while to write (like me) ... not so much.

There's a place for shorter length fiction and I'm not knocking that. I love a quick read on occasion myself. What KU does is take away an author's right to determine the price of their book, as all books in KU are valued equally for self-published books. Traditionally published books, however, get a different deal entirely that I won't go into. For self-published books, what authors get paid per book is independent of that book's length. So a 50-page 99-cent book gets an author just as much money as a 500-page, normally $5.99 book. In addition, the payment to author per borrow went from over $2 per book in Select's early days, to $1.33 after the start of KU this past month. Ouch.

Here's a blog post that explains the pitfalls of exclusivity.

Many authors found that although borrows increased, regular sales decreased. Subsequently, so did their income. A few big names, all of them KDP All-Stars (meaning top 100 earning KDP authors, like H.M. Ward and J.A. Konrath), have left KDP Select as well as SF author Ryk Brown. Of course, there are authors who have done very, very well in Select, even with the initiation of KU. And they should stay in it. But each of us has to do what's right for both our careers and our readers.

As an indie author, I love Amazon KDP. It has done so, so, so much more for my writing career than all the other vendors put together. But it's hard to stay loyal and remain exclusive when such sweeping changes can occur without prior notice. Writing is more than a hobby to me. It's how I make my living.

So I'm going wide with distribution, even though leaving Select appears to be putting a ding in my Amazon visibility and sales. Hopefully, sales at other vendors will grow with time and make up for those losses. If they don't, I'll reconsider. Right now, I'm not sure if this is the right move or not. Ask me a year from now. Who knows what will happen in the months to come? I could be washed up in a ditch, never having written another word, or I could be on top of the New York Times Bestseller list (always think positive, I say). We'll see. I've gone from barely selling one book a day, to regularly selling over a hundred a day, to having a good day when I hit twenty, despite having more books for sale and there being more people reading e-books than ever. Times change. Roll with it.

Digital publishing is an industry that can change wildly in a day. The great thing about being an indie author is that we can adapt on the turn of a dime. It can be quite the roller coaster ride, so you have to take the ups with the downs.

Right now, I'd like the ride to smooth out a little.Spreading my support base a little wider seems like the most sensible way to do that.

Until later,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Crown in the Heather is now FREE everywhere!

I've finally made the move to permafree on all channels for The Crown in the Heather, The Bruce Trilogy: Book I.

You can find it here:

E-book: (Australia)
Apple (iTunes)
Barnes and Noble

What this means is that you can download CITH at no cost from any online e-book retailer.

Some people have asked me: Why would you give your book away? Simple. The strategy behind permafree is to get new readers to try your books. I look at it the same as if that book were sitting on every library shelf all over the world. Then, those who like it and want to read more can purchase the rest of the trilogy, and hopefully other books I've written.

So let your friends know they can read all about Robert the Bruce and James Douglas (swoon) for FREE wherever they like to get their e-books.

Tomorrow, I'll post about why I decided to make The Crown in the Heather free from a self-publisher's standpoint.

Until later,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Memories and Matchsticks is now live!

 Memories and Matchsticks, Sam McNamee Mystery: Book 1, is now live at all online retailers!

There’s an arsonist on the loose in rural Wilton, Indiana — and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep from being found out. Even murder.

After a decade-long absence, the night Sam McNamee returns to Wilton, she plows into a mangy mutt on a rain-slicked country road. Bump, the dog she rescues, has a history that drags Sam and her family into a web of danger, making her father a prime suspect.

Feuds and secrets run deep in Humboldt County. Sam can't leave until the arsonist is uncovered. Not that she'd want to anymore, since veterinarian Clint Chastain has stolen her heart. 
I had a blast writing this book and hope it makes you hold your breath, laugh, and hug your loved one a little tighter.
Here's where you can get it:


Happy reading,

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giveaway for Memories and Matchsticks

The Goodreads giveaway for a signed paperback of Memories and Matchsticks is on - now through Dec. 27th!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Memories and Matchsticks by N. Gemini Sasson

Memories and Matchsticks

by N. Gemini Sasson

Giveaway ends December 27, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win 

Click above to enter to win your copy. The e-book goes on sale Dec. 20th at all online retailers. For links to buy, please go to my web site.

Don't want to miss news of my new releases? Sign up for my e-mail newsletter HERE. I won't flood your inbox with spam; I'll just let you know when a book is available for pre-order or recently published. That's it. If you'd like more news on discounted books or other happenings, join me on my Facebook page.

Until later,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pre-orders now available for Memories and Matchsticks

It's almost here! Memories and Matchsticks, A Sam McNamee Mystery, goes on sale Dec. 20th, 2014 and is now available for pre-order as an e-book at the following: (Kindle)

Apple (iTunes)

Barnes and Noble (Nook)


You can get it at 25% off right now for just $2.99, but after it launches, the price goes up to $3.99.

For those who enjoyed Say No More, this is another dog story, but it's also a romantic comedy and cozy mystery featuring an accidental female sleuth.

Can't make up your mind? Here are the book description and a preview chapter:


There’s an arsonist on the loose in rural Wilton, Indiana — and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep from being found out. Even murder. 
     Out of work, accident prone, and dateless, Sam McNamee packs up her belongings and her daughter to move to the Florida Keys, where she can pen love stories as S.A. Mack to ease the lingering pain of her husband’s death. First, though, she has to help her dad sell his home of forty-plus years. It just might be the hardest job she’s ever tackled. He’s a hoarder; she’s a neat freak.
     The night she returns to Wilton, Sam plows into a mangy mutt on a rain-slicked country road. Bump, the dog she rescues, has a history that drags Sam and her family into a web of danger, making her father a prime suspect.
     Feuds and secrets run deep in Humboldt County. Sam can’t leave until the arsonist is uncovered. Not that she’d want to anymore, since veterinarian Clint Chastain has stolen her heart. 



 This wasn’t how I’d planned things. I was supposed to be ensconced somewhere in the Keys by now, sipping on a mint mojito, sea foam swirling around my Adirondack chair while I tapped furiously at the keyboard of my netbook.
Instead, I was headed deep into the cornfields of Eastern Indiana. So much space. So few people.
The next few weeks were going to be hell.
Rain slapped against the windshield in a percussive roar, drowning out the melody of the song on the radio. I fumbled blindly with the knobs, afraid to take my eyes off the road. I flipped through the stations until I found some obnoxiously upbeat techno dance music and cranked the volume. Anything to keep myself alert. With every swish of the wiper blades, I had a clear view for about half a second; then water gushed down from the sky, distorting the world beyond my hood into an out-of-focus black and white photo.
I knew these roads too well. Knew the exact spot where it had happened, just around the bend from where we were now. My heart clenched at the memory of that night: the phone call at fourteen minutes past midnight, the twirling lights, the unremitting drizzle, the mangled metal …
My eyes drifted shut. As my head bobbed forward, I snapped back to awareness, adrenaline crashing through my veins, my senses sharpened. My pulse drummed in my ears, the rhythm of my heart a rapid staccato.
Stay awake, Samantha Ann McNamee, I told myself. This is no time to fall asleep at the wheel. You have precious cargo in the backseat.
A burst of red and white flashed in my rearview mirror, spiraling me into memories of that fateful night. I focused on the vehicle approaching from behind: a police car. The piercing wail of its siren rose above the roar of rain. Behind me, my daughter Tara mumbled and pulled her hood down over her eyes.
Had I been speeding? Swerving, maybe? I started to pull off to the side, sure I was going to get a ticket. Both right wheels had barely hit the gravel shoulder when the patrol car veered into the left lane and edged up beside me. Blood pounding, I lifted my foot from the accelerator and tapped at the brake.
A wall of water hit my windshield as the police car sped past. I breathed a sigh of relief. It barreled down the rain slicked road, then turned into a lane partly shrouded by a thick stand of trees.
There, the uneven silhouette of a house set close to the road appeared in scattered bursts of lightning. Yellow caution tape was draped from tree to tree all around the house. Fire trucks surrounded the house, but there was no fire. Not anymore. An ambulance was parked in front of the house. Two EMTs were wheeling a stretcher out the front door. On it was a body bag.
Whoever it was, they’d arrived too late.
I glanced at the road for a second to make sure I wasn’t drifting off onto the shoulder, then looked back at the house. Another lightning flash, prolonged, revealed part of the roof was missing. Jagged trusses, charred in places, poked above uneven exterior walls.
Looked like the place had been ravaged by fire. I stepped on the gas, eager to get away from there. Vehicles with flashing lights brought back too many terrible memories. The farther away I got, the better.
The house slipped from my peripheral vision and I returned my sights to the road ahead. It dipped into a small valley carved by a narrow, but swift-moving creek, then rose again before curving to the right.
I slapped my thighs to keep myself awake. We should have arrived hours ago. Damn those movers for taking their sweet time. Except for the few suitcases and gym bags stuffed into the rear of my Subaru Forester, all my belongings were now sitting somewhere in a moldy, cockroach-infested storage unit on Chicago’s West Side. Why hadn’t I stopped a couple of hours ago down the road? I could’ve called ahead, told my dad we’d gotten a late start and the storm was just too much.
Too late now. We were less than ten minutes away. Not that I was eager to return to my childhood home, mind you, but when you were tight on money and had just lost a steady job —
The scope of the headlights caught a reflection in a nearby field. Instinctively, I yanked the wheel to the left, my foot drawing back from the gas pedal to hit the brake. A pair of glowing orbs stared back at me, hovering at road’s edge, ready to bound out into my path. This time I punched the brake, inadvertently steering right. The wheels chattered over rain-slickened asphalt as the anti-lock mechanism kicked in. The rear end of my Forester fishtailed toward the ditch, the muddy channel carved deep by a recent backhoe job. Rubber squealed as the tires bit into the road. My hands locked on the steering wheel. I let up on the brake, momentum still propelling the car irretrievably forward as the bright yellow dots flew toward me.
A squeal ripped from the backseat. Tara slapped her palms against my headrest as she grabbed hold.
The right rear tire plunged off the edge of the pavement, thudding loudly, and then scudded on the gravel shoulder for what seemed like an eternity, although it was no more than a few seconds. There was a soft thump as the front bumper clipped an object. The car lurched to a halt, one tire dipping into the ditch.
For several seconds, all I could hear were the sharp, rapid breaths of my daughter behind me. Finally, I remembered to breathe, too. The steady pounding of rain on the windows came back into focus.
After throwing the shifter into park, I peered into the rearview mirror, but the glow from the dashboard wasn’t enough to see anything. I groped at the ceiling, flicked the overhead light on. “Are you okay, honey?”
Please, please, please be okay.
The car was still in one piece. At least as far as I could tell. The airbags hadn’t even deployed. Why wasn’t she answering me?
I glanced in the side mirror to make sure there were no oncoming cars, then unbuckled myself and twisted around to look in the backseat. Tara was curled into a ball, arms over her face. “Tara?”
“Yeah,” she croaked in a whisper, “I’m here.”
“You okay?”
“I think so. You just scared the crap out of me, that’s all.” Her hands peeled away from her face. She looked up sheepishly. “I was asleep. What happened?”
Groaning, I sat facing front again. Pain hammered at the top of my skull. “I think I hit something.”
“Like what? A tree, a mailbox?”
I didn’t want to get out of the car and look. Didn’t want to know. Maybe I could just put the car in reverse, back out of the ditch, and go on?
“A deer, maybe?”
“No,” I said, “not that big.”
The faux leather of the seat squeaked as Tara scooted herself upright and pressed her nose to the window. “I hope it wasn’t a skunk.”
“We would have smelled it by now.”
“Oh. Guess you’re right.”
Clutching the shifter, I slid it into reverse.
“No!” Tara’s frantic scream bored into my ear canal.
“No what?” I wanted to yell at her to calm down, but she was hyperventilating already. The best course in this situation was to remain calm and act like it was no big deal. If I keyed in to her anxiety in the smallest bit, she’d erupt in full blown hysteria within a minute.
“You might back over it,” she said quietly. “Hurt it worse. Whatever it is.”
I flicked on the hazard lights and cut the engine. “I’m sure it’s all right. Probably just a raccoon or possum. Bet it ran off into the cornfield already. I’m going to check, okay? Then we’ll go on. Should be to Gramp’s place in fifteen, twenty minutes, tops.”
She stared out the window into the darkness. I wasn’t surprised that she had no reaction to arriving at my dad’s house. After all, she probably barely remembered him.
After another long silence, Tara turned her face toward me, her earthy brown eyes pressed into a squint. She pointed above her head. “Can I turn off that light? It’s really bright and I can’t see outside.”
“Sure, honey.”
Tara punched the light off and turned back to the window, her breath steaming it in drifting circles.
“Be right back.” I tugged the hood of my Nike jacket over my head and pulled on the door latch. I gave it a light push, expecting it to open wide, but the tilt of the car leaning into the ditch had gravity working against me. My left foot was barely dangling out of the car when the door swung back and smashed into my ankle.
“Shit! Shit, shit, shit —”
I knew what was coming before she said it. At just shy of fifteen, she was just entering the height of snarkiness. She’d inherited the trait from her father. It was one of the things I had loved most about Kyle — that edgy wit. Humor, in whatever form, was its own special kind of intelligence and Tara had it in spades. It also annoyed the hell out of me.
“Unless you just stepped in a cow patty, that is not —”
“How about ‘damn it’?” I snapped. It had been a long drive already and I wasn’t in the mood to debate semantics. “I just slammed the door on my leg. Is ‘damn it’ appropriate?” Cursing was my biggest vice — if you didn’t count my lack of social interests — and Tara had picked it up early. Two years old, if I recalled. Since I couldn’t tell her not to do what I so freely and often did, I’d tried hard to teach her to use language selectively. If you’re going to cuss, I’d told her, do it under your breath. It hadn’t always been successful. Nothing like getting a call from your daughter’s second grade principal telling you she had told a classmate to “shut the hell up” for talking during an assembly. I’d had to stifle a laugh. Chronologically, she may have been eight then, but mentally she was twenty-eight.
“Sure, I suppose you could damn the door.” She wiped at the breath-fog on the glass with her sleeve. “If it makes you feel better.”
If I said anything else, this was going to turn into a parent-child verbal brawl. I was too tired to go there, so I let it slide. I’d talk to her tomorrow about toning down the sarcasm. Right now, I just wanted a pillow and a soft bed. Heck, even a couch would do. Knowing my dad, that was probably the best I could hope for.
I probed both sides of my ankle where the door edge had pinched it. No swelling. Yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised to find a bruise there tomorrow. I may have had the physique of a natural athlete, but in grade school I’d managed to fall flat on my butt while playing tetherball, hopscotch, and musical chairs. I’d long since figured out that avoiding physical activity was the best way to avert my own early demise.
“Hand me the flashlight from the glove compartment, will you?” Tara said.
“Well, if you aren’t going to find out what you hit, I will.”
I pointed a finger at her to shush her, then realized she probably couldn’t see it in the dark. “You just sit tight and keep your seatbelt on. I’ll be back in a second.”
Even her sigh was surly. I dug around in the overstuffed glove compartment until I found the skinny LED flashlight my boss had doled out to all the employees last Christmas. Former boss, actually. At first it had seemed like such a cheap gift, but it had come in handy more than once already. Little did I know that Top Floor Media’s parent company was already starting to shave off its unprofitable subsidiaries. Had I been aware, I would’ve started looking for a job sooner.
In the end, though, it was a blessing in disguise. If I’d had time to think about it, I probably would’ve started looking for a new job. A real job. The kind where you had to clock in at 8 a.m. sharp, then would spend the next nine hours watching the second hand on the clock crawl backward. I’d just spent sixteen years doing that, jotting down grocery lists in the margins of the manuscripts I was supposed to be proofreading because the sex scenes were so boring that snagging a crate of Clementine oranges on sale provided more excitement than inserting commas or suggesting synonyms for private body parts.
With a grunt of exasperation, I kicked the door open wide. A wall of rain slammed into me. Muttering under my breath, I yanked my zipper up all the way, then heaved myself out into the typhoon and shut the door. I clicked the flashlight on and shone it down the length of the driver’s side. Nothing. No dings, no scrapes. No dead bodies. So far so good.
A quick scan up and down the road told me all was clear. Amazing how remote this place seemed for only being a few miles off the highway. Back in Chicago, you couldn’t go two minutes without a car going down the road, even after midnight — and that was in our suburban neighborhood in Naperville.
Better get used to the isolation, I told myself. At least for the next few weeks. Or however long this was going to take until I got Dad packed up and skedaddled myself out of Sticksville.
The rain was coming down heavier now. It was the kind of rain where it was good to sit inside, curled up under a blanket and sipping a cup of hot tea while watching old movies. No such luck tonight.
My shoes squished as I worked my way toward the back hatch. I hadn’t even made it five steps and my pants were already soaked. I grasped the rear bumper and went down on my knees, aiming my tiny flashlight under the car. Nothing there. Thank God.
I began to straighten, but misjudged. My forehead smacked the corner of the bumper. This time the expletives were even more colorful.
When I was done cussing and finally stood up, I saw Tara gazing at me through the rear window. Had she heard the thunk? I faked a smile. The space between her eyebrows pinched with a questioning look. I held my hands wide, palms up, to indicate I hadn’t found anything.
Tara cracked her window open. “Did you look in the ditch?”
I held a finger up and stepped to the far side of the car, scanning the panels on the passenger side to look for damage. The scratch was still there just in front of the right rear wheel from when I’d clipped the cement barrier post at the bank drive-thru last fall, but otherwise it all looked good. I swept my light back and forth over the ditch in a forty-foot arc. Nothing but muddy runoff, weeds, and a couple of smashed beer cans.
Spinning in my daughter’s direction, I shone the light on myself briefly and shook my head.
“You didn’t look very hard.” She closed the window, then pulled her hood over her eyes and slumped down in the seat again. Satisfied that whatever I’d hit had crawled off into the field relatively unharmed, I returned to the driver’s side.
A long, pitiful whimper rose above the incessant pounding of the rain. I froze with my hand on the door handle. Damn it. I couldn’t leave now. I had hit something. But what on earth would make that kind of noise?
Reluctantly, I went toward the ditch, the beam of my light swinging back and forth over the rain-gorged channel. To my left, a field of low bushy soybeans spread. I looked for paw or hoof prints or breaks in the rows to reveal where an animal might have gone through, had it retreated into the field, but there was no indication of that. I almost turned back when it occurred to me the car had skidded a good hundred yards before coming to a complete stop.
So I walked on. The cool rain drenching me. The world beyond the column of my flashlight as black as coal. The dampness stabbing the misery deep into my bones.
A ragged mound of fur came into view, its inert body sprawled across the shimmering white line at the road’s perimeter. Too small to be a deer. Too big for a raccoon. The fur was a non-descript grayish-brown, the tail a thick plume. Coyote, maybe? If it was, I’d leave it where it lay.
Tentative, I crept forward, ready to bolt back to the car. Closer now. Fifty feet. Thirty. Fifteen …
Its tail flicked, the tip of it plopping into the silty rivulet of the ditch. I stopped dead in my tracks, trying hard not to pee my pants, wishing I’d brought something with me that could serve as a weapon if it suddenly attacked. What if the coyote were diseased or rabid? There was no way I could outrun it. At least with my tire iron, I could’ve beaned it in the head a couple of times, bought myself a few seconds to sprint to the car and dive in.
A front paw twitched. I backed up slowly, keeping the narrow beam of my LED light aimed straight at it like a light saber. If nothing else, if it sprang in my direction, fangs gnashing, I could momentarily blind it. Its tail flicked again. Straining with effort, it stretched its front legs. Gaunt ribs expanded with a single meager breath. A plaintive whine leaked from its maned throat.
I took a step back, and another. Cold water rushed into the mesh of my running shoes as my heel sank in a puddle. My ankle buckled with the sudden motion, and I stumbled sideways, biting back a yelp of pain as I turned to run.
I’d only made one limping step when my daughter’s plea rose above the pounding rain.
“Mom?” Tara jogged past me in her flip flops, the foamy material slapping up water.
Grabbing her by the elbow, I reeled her in. “Tara, what are you doing? Get back in the car — now!”
“But …” She tugged toward the sodden lump of fur, twisting her body as she struggled to free herself from my protective grip. The long strands of her wet hair slapped against her cheek. “You have to help him! You can’t just drive off and leave him to die! Not after you hit him.”
“It’s a coyote, Tara. A wild animal.” Rain filled my mouth. It was coming down in sheets so hard now I could barely see the car from where we stood.
She snatched the flashlight from my hand and wheeled around. “That is a coyote?”
At the sound of her shrill voice, it lifted its head to show a pair of mismatched ears, one semi-erect and one upright, framing a gentle face. A thin white blaze ran between its eyes, one dark, one a pale azure. It stretched its legs, the fur heavy with ticking, groaned, and flopped back over sideways.
A gash on its right shoulder, the width of my palm, glimmered bright with blood. 
A dog. I’d hit someone’s dog.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NaNo Much?

November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. It's an annual ritual where writers exorcise their creativity by saying goodbye to their families and retreating into their imaginary worlds. Most, like me, give up their bustling social lives (yeah, right) to write in seclusion; however, some NaNo-ers have been known to convene at coffee houses and libraries, where they simultaneously open their laptops and race to pile up the word count, while agreeing to ignore each other. Can't imagine how fun it must be having a bunch of goal-driven introverts in one place (*sarcasm*).

The goal is to write at least 50,000 words by November 30th. In one month. That averages out to 1667 words per day.

Why??? you say? To be that much closer to having written a book.

Yes, there are some writers out there (I'm looking at you, Stephen King!) who can expel 10,000 words a day just by waving their fingertips over the keyboard. Actually, I'm pretty sure he can sneeze and whole novels appear in his hard drive.

I am not one of the prolific ones. I labor over every page. And if you give me an opportunity to procrastinate -- the laundry/mopping/closet-cleaning MUST be done -- I will usually take it, simply because mindless tasks are much simpler than completing a novel. During NaNo, however, I make no excuses. I just sit down and write. Sometimes for 14 hours a day.

You know what's even crazier? Last year I did/won NaNO and trained for a marathon, which my husband and I ran in December. That month, I was either writing, running, or sleeping. I did take a few hours off for Thanksgiving dinner.

This year on November 19th, I completed my 50,000 words to 'win' NaNoWriMo for 2014. If all goes as it should, Say That Again, the sequel to Say No More, will be available in March of 2015.

"But I can't wait that long for another book?" you say? Don't fret. Memories and Matchsticks, the first in my new Sam McNamee cozy mystery series will be available for pre-order very soon and on sale in late December, 2014. More news on that  very soon!

Meanwhile, back to the keyboard for me. Only 30,000 more words to go.

Until later,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Discovering My Past

Isabeau will be released in the German Amazon store on Oct. 14th, 2014 by Amazon Crossing.

Imagine how exciting it would feel to discover that many years after you’d written a historically based series of novels that several of the people you’d written about were your very own ancestors.
For weeks after I saw the movie Braveheart in 1995, my thoughts kept drifting back to two of the characters: Robert the Bruce, the eventual King of Scots, and Isabella of France, the wife of Edward II, who later became the King of England. I couldn’t stop thinking about them and wondering about their role in history. I didn’t know why Isabella and Robert were more fascinating to me than any other historical figures. They just were. They became like an itch I had to scratch.  I had to write about them.
I had no clue then what an ambitious undertaking that was going to be – or how many hours in my day and years of my life it would eventually consume. I became obsessed with research, taking enough notes to write a doctoral dissertation. I even went so far as to visit England and Scotland on two different occasions.
And on odd thing happened to me on those trips. Several times, I would stop, look around me, and get this strange sense that I’d been there before. Like I knew this place, these hills, this castle, that road in the distance.
After my books came out on Amazon, readers began to ask if I was descended from any of the people I’d written about. I honestly didn’t know. I had a family tree on paper that went back to the 1700’s, when some of my mother’s family came to America, but that was it. There were some Gordons in it, who I knew were Scottish.
It took me awhile to get around to checking further. I began to research my ancestry online, tracing each branch back as far as I could – and hitting a lot of dead ends. Sometimes the records just weren’t there, or they’d been lost along the way. So I’d dabble in the genealogy in my spare time, not really expecting to find anything notable.
Then one day, I traced a Scottish family branch all the way back to Robert the Bruce. It was absolutely surreal. It made me feel like all those years of writing in obscurity were worth it. I kept digging and eventually discovered another line that traced back to English roots. My jaw hit the ground when Edward III, son of Edward II and Queen Isabella, turned up. Hah. I did have royal blood after all.
I’ve since had a lot of readers e-mail me to tell me that they, too, are descended from the characters in my books and that reading about them brought special meaning to their own ancestry. It thrills me to know that my stories have inspired others to investigate their own ancestry. I still find it hard to believe that long after I’d written about Isabella and her contemporaries that many of them were actually my ancestors. Maybe there was a reason I felt called to write their story after all?

Until later,