Friday, December 11, 2009

Jessica James and her Road to Publication (& a Giveaway!)

Jessica James is the award-winning author of the historical fiction novel Shades of Gray, an epic Civil War love story that has twice overtaken Gone with the Wind on the Amazon Best-Seller list in the romance/historical/U.S. category.

This multi-award winning novel has been widely praised by historians for its balanced portrayal of the War Between the States, and by romance readers for its emotional description of the love that develops between the two main characters. The novel chronicles the clash of a Confederate cavalry officer with a Union spy as they defend their beliefs, their country and their honor. The rolling hills of northern Virginia provide the backdrop for this page-turning tale of courage and devotion.

And here is the author herself, to tell us all about...


A long and winding road – straight to publication

I may be showing my age, but does anyone else remember the Survivor song Ever Since the World Began? (From the Eye of the Tiger album)

The first verse is:
I’ll never know what brought me here,
As if somebody led my hand,
It seems I hardly had to steer,
My course was planned.

These words really hit a chord with me because, Heaven knows, there was no steering involved in my path to publication – and yet it all happened as if it were perfectly planned.

I guess you can pretty much figure out that I didn’t start my career in the writing profession or have any inkling that I would someday write an award-winning novel. My first college degree was in veterinary technology, which led to my dream job at a state-of-the-art horse hospital in northern Virginia. I only lasted in that profession about three years. Though I tried to stick it out, I eventually realized that a job that requires caring for extremely ill (and dying) horses is no place for an emotional horse lover.

So what could I do but go back to college? This time I earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations/journalism – not because I had any real affection for the profession, but because it was the easiest degree to get using my former college credits. (This probably gives you the sense that I was drifting aimlessly, and, at the time, I pretty much was).

Upon graduation, I landed a job as a reporter at my local paper, and soon rose to editor. I moved on to work as an editor at a larger paper, and after eighteen years had flown by, quit to concentrate on my novel.

What, you ask, does this 20+ year span of work have to do with becoming an author? Well, if not for the degree in veterinary technology, I would never have lived in northern Virginia. And if I had never lived in northern Virginia, I would never have learned about the romantic figure of Confederate cavalry commander Col. John Mosby. If I had never learned about Col. Mosby, I would never have developed an interest in the Civil War. And if I had never developed an interest in the Civil War, there would never have been a Col. Alexander Hunter, the main character in my Civil War novel Shades of Gray – that is set entirely in northern Virginia.

Of course, the journalism job gave me plenty of writing practice and honed my skills in making every word count. I wasn’t sure I could actually write a novel, but I figured anyone who can sit through a four-hour municipal meeting and chisel the main facts down to a 10-inch story on deadline, probably has some organizational and writing skills.

That job also provided plenty of experience in dealing with press releases, (since I was the one making the decision whether to run them or throw them away). Press releases have since become one of my main marketing tools and are primarily responsible for twice propelling my book to #1 on Amazon in the romance/historical/U.S. category, ahead of Gone with the Wind. My newsroom background is also why I now help other authors promote their books with press releases.

My path to publication was not a straight and narrow one, but it sure seems like it was meant to be.

By the way, the chorus to that Survivor song goes like this:

And we have waited for this moment in time,
Ever since the world began.
Life certainly works in mysterious ways! Thank you for that interesting insight into your road to publication, Jessica.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosThat's not all! You can win the gift basket (photo on right) as well. Here's how:

This post is part of a blog tour, and Jessica is doing a Civil War Basket giveaway. From a t-shirt to a candle holder, candles and more, the basket contains some interesting stuff! The tour runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 14, with the drawing on Dec. 15 at her website. The giveaway works by people leaving comments at any of the tour stops WITH an email address. A listing of stops on the blog tour will be on the author's website Nov. 23 ( One entry for each comment, 3 entries for following her blog, 5 entries for tweeting the contest or mentioning it on another blog. Each entrant will be given a number or numbers and winner will be picked using Basket mailed to USA only.
ps - Not necessary, but I'd love if you include in your comment - "Found your giveaway through A Book Blogger's Diary!" In your tweets, just add the #callmeabookworm tag at the end. Thanks!

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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  1. i loved this book! i wish she would come out with another!

  2. Jessica is one of those authors who writes about what she truly knows - and lives. She is a genuine Southern Lady.

  3. I have followed Jessica James on twitter and she's very passionate about her subject.

  4. The fact that "Shades of Gray" was an intense labor of love shows in the quality of the characterizations and the storytelling.

    I am a follower.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  5. What an amazing journey as to how this book came about. I love it. This is an new author for sounds like I've missed a great read.

    I'm a new follower.


  6. Oh thanks so much! I would so love to have this to read! I love this era!

  7. Following Jessica's blog and tweeted too!

  8. Thanks everyone! And a big thanks to Twitter followers and re-tweeters! Nice to see you here on my tour!!

  9. This sounds like a great book, I've always enjoyed the Civil War era in terms of historical fiction.

  10. sounds like a great book (and giveaway, too)


  11. Looks like a terrific book!

  12. This must have been a tough choice for you to make in the first place and to ask the farmer to choose now, but you know it's the right thing to do and that's what matters. I am sorry it turned out that way. I am sure it is for the better in the long run.

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