It just occurred to me that my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray reached its 11-month anniversary on Dec. 19. Hard to believe that almost a whole year has flown by since its publication date -- and my goodness, what a year it has been!
I can barely remember the feeling of opening that first box of books and looking at the finished product of so many years of work. I think I knew that, rather than being the end of a journey, it was a whole new beginning of another. Marketing and selling became my main focus, and thanks to a few wise choices (mixed in with oh so many wrong ones) Shades of Gray climbed to #3 on the Amazon Best-Seller list in the Romance/Historical category. (Gone with the Wind is #1)
There have been other successes as well, including a Gold Medal for Best Regional Fiction in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards and a Silver Medal in the same category in the prestigious IPPY awards. If nothing else, these achievements helped bolster my confidence, and gave me more credibility as an author in the eyes of my readers.
But awards and accolades from the industry are really nothing when compared to the response of readers. I didn't write Shades of Gray with the intention of making money or because I thought it would make me famous. I wrote it to tell a story of honor and courage; to share with readers the heartache and despair of the War Between the States, and to perhaps instill some understanding of the sacrifices and suffering that those who chose to defend their native soil endured.
To the readers who have contacted me, or written about Shades of Gray, I simply cannot thank you adequately with words. You have helped give credence to my belief that there are still people out there who enjoy a classic love story that promotes the values and virtues this great country was founded upon. And you have shown the publishing world that a romance that promotes the principles of true and everlasting love is not a thing of the past.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Review Noble Cause
Top 12 Pick!
Latest Amazon Review
"...This was a great book. I felt like I was right there with the characters and in and amongst the battles.
The point of view is different from any other Civil War book I have read and I feel like I saw not just one new perspective of the war, but many. Well worth the cost and taking time to read!"
June 2011 Review
- Midwest Book Review
Top 10 of 2009!
Top 10 of 2009!
Top 10 of 2008
The Book Connection
The Printed Page
"This stunning story captures the reader's attention from the
start ... A moving account of two people who are drawn into an untenable conflict and find love, despite their opposing beliefs."
See full review here.
And I quote
“Andrea and Hunter are like a Virginian, Civil War-era Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.”
Awards won by Shades of Gray
Best Regional Fiction
Best Regional Fiction
2008 BOOK OF THE YEAR Finalist
Fiction - Romance
Virginia Romance Writers:
2009 Top 5 Finalist
Best Southern Theme
The Book Connection:
2008 FAVORITE BOOK
2008 FAVORITE BOOK
Praise for Shades
"The love story is compelling, the dialogue is intelligent and believable, [and] the action is intense."
- Jocelyn Green, Faith Deployed
“Shades of Gray explores the War Between the States in a way that will touch you like no other work of fiction … If you only read one book in 2009, make it this one.” - The Book Connection
“Well written and expertly executed… You cannot leave this book unchanged in your understanding of the souls of the Civil War.”– Heather Froeschl, Book Review Journal
"Shades of Gray is a beautiful story with a timeless message. It touched my heart and soul.” – Catherine Bennett, Amazon Reviewer
“Kept me entranced from the exciting beginning to the unexpected ending. Shades of Gray has the power to touch you deeply.”– Beverly Rowe, MyShelf.com
“One of the most moving Civil War stories I have ever read. I had to remind myself this was fiction. Do not walk, run to your nearest bookstore for your copy of Shades of Gray.”– D. Gaynor, Book Reviewer
“If you want to read a book you will never forget and will think about for months after reading it, read Shades of Gray. The book took my breath away. Honestly, you will not sleep.”– Bookworm’s Dinner Blog
“This is not a contemporary retelling of the Civil War as much as it is a sympathetic and loving portrait. Interpersonal conflict as well as battlefield conflict make the book a page-turner and quick read.”– Historical Novel Society
"[James’] work stands out among the best of the historical novelists, and is a worthy addition to the Civil War fiction line-up. Huzzah!" – Scott Mingus, Civil War Blogger
“… Exciting, intense, romantic, and thrilling from start to finish. The most balanced book on the War Between the States I have ever read.”– Bob O’Connor, Author of The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln
"An amazing book full of historical detail. I would highly recommend this book to any fan of historical fiction." - Jenn's Bookshelf
“I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in years! Shades of Gray is an incredible achievement and a treasure.”– Virginia Morton, Author of “Marching Through Culpeper
"A fine addition to anyone's library of historical novels." - JEB Stuart, V
“[Emotions] seem to transcend the pages to settle in the very marrow of the reader’s bones. Jessica James has produced a tremendous and wonderful saga about love, loyalty and honor for which she must lauded.”– K. Pace, Bookpleasures.com
“I loved this book and carry the memory with me still.” – Donna Edwards, Librarian
“I am not exaggerating when I say I became obsessed by Shades of Gray. [The book] affected me greatly.”– Ten Roads Blog
“Re-enactors, historians, & followers of The War for Southern Independence will love this novel! It’s fast moving and holds the reader’s interest from cover to cover.”– David Wright, Past Commander Dearing-Beauregard Camp 1813, SCV
"Readers will find the attention to historical detail impeccable and the characters are so strongly drawn that the history does not eclipse the forward trajectory of the story."– Foreword Magazine
"Loved it ~ start to finish. I didn’t just read about the Civil War I was there smack dab in the middle of it. This book has it all. The last 100-150 pages were intense, the last 50 pages heartbreaking, the last 20 pages I cried." - Printed Page Blog
"James handles battle scenes with vibrant and powerful images, and her descriptions of setting are poetic. There are shades of meaning and lessons to be learned in Shades of Gray, and Jessica James has done a masterful job." - Elaine Buff, Blogcritics.com
"A very thoughtful perspective on the nature of war that enables the reader to see that both sides are often motivated by a noble cause" - Literarily Blog
"Shades of Gray takes the reader on a whirlwind journey across the Old Dominion with a highly original and historically accurate plotline.”– Michael Aubrecht, Free Lance-Star
“I felt like I had actually lived in the beautiful state of Virginia!”– Betty Cox, New Book Reviews
“…An engaging read. I didn't want to put it down at all. My eyes kept getting heavier and heavier, but I wanted to keep going. I told myself ‘just one more chapter’ at least half a dozen times.”– Becky Laney, Becky’s Reads
“In its brief, brilliant, and tragic history, the Southern Confederacy exhibited extraordinary valor and devotion and high honor. This should never be forgotten by Americans. As long as there are writers like Jessica James, there is no danger of such forgetting.”– Dr. Clyde N. Wilson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Un. of South Carolina
"Sweeping romantic fiction that asks the reader to look back to days gone by. Highly recommend." - Doubtful Muse