What a whirlwind month August was! And next month is shaping up to be no less busy. Looking at my schedule, I have something going on every weekend in September, so in the blink of an eye, it will be October!
I can't say everything I've been doing relates to the Civil War or writing historical fiction, but some of it has. September will take me to some beautiful parts of Virginia for book signings - and I always make it a point to visit Civil War sites when I have the chance.
When I was filing some photos the other day, I came across pictures I took in July of the Butterfly Bush right outside my door. I had started the day trying to get photos of hummingbirds. They will eat from a feeder two feet above my head - except when I have a camera in my hands, so I turned my attention to the Butterfly Bush.
On any given day, the bush is literally covered with butterflies, including Yellow Swallowtails, Monarchs, Red Spotted Purples and Zebra Swallowtails.
The Zebra was the hardest to capture since it flits from flower to flower instead of sitting around with its wings open like some of the others do. Since it is a little rarer, here is the photo. You can see its tails are not that long. They apparently grow longer as the summer goes on. I saw one on the bush the other day that was a perfect specimen.
Here is a picture of a Yellow Swallowtail for comparison. I still have these on the bush every day - sometimes four or five at a time. They are beautiful to watch. In addition to the Butterfly Bush, I have tons of wild flowers planted at different locations so I guess that helps draw them in as well.
My brothers used to catch butterflies and identify them, but I can't really figure out the next two. I think the one here to the right is in the Admiral family, and the next one, below, is in the Fritillary family - maybe a Regal Fritillary?
I've found that butterfly watching is a bit like bird watching. It's fun to look up and see something that is both beautiful and unusual.
One thing for sure, it is a relaxing way to let my mind wander and spark the creative juices for a day of writing!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
As many of you know, I just returned from "The Valley" in Virginia, and I will be heading back in September for a book signing at the 29th Edinburg Ole Time Festival.
Edinburg is a quaint little town nestled along US-11 that will come alive on Sept. 18-20, with music, arts, crafts, entertainment and great food. The goal of the festival is to transport people to another time - when things moved a little slower and people took the time to visit with each other. This year they have a Civil War theme, so I will fit right in signing my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray.
The entertainment schedule for the Festival includes a parade, sing-along, old timers baseball game, street dance, and lots of music - ranging from barbershop quartets to bluegrass, to celtic and string bands.
If you're in the area, stop by and say hello between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sept. 19!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I love summer - not so much for hot weather - but for the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
My little patch of strawberries is still producing a huge bowl of fruit every other day, so I've been eating fresh strawberries (and Cool Whip) every day. It's so nice to go out each evening and see more bright red berries hanging there begging to be picked. Amazingly enough I still have blossoms, so expect I will continue to have fruit for a few more weeks.
Don't they look great? (And no pesticides or fertilizers of any kind were used).
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Wow, I didn't know little birds grew that fast! They are gone. Their little house sits empty now after so much activity over the past few weeks.
I'm very disappointed that I didn't get to witness their first flight, but I'm not really complaining that their gone. The last few days were a little rough. If one of the cats so much as walked onto the porch, the mother bird would sit on the butterfly bush right outside my door and put up such a racket that I would have to go out and retrieve the cat.
Locking up three adult cats that are accustomed to roaming over 15 acres is no picnic either. When I say adult - I mean they are more than four years old. That doesn't mean they don't still climb the curtains after imaginary game, or ambush one another from the back of the couch. Racing each other around, over, and under my desk was another way to burn off the excess energy caused by their lack of freedom.
The black and gray ball of fur you see are two of my cats sleeping after play (Yes, the gray one only has three and a half legs. He showed up at my house that way).
Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done on my next historical fiction novel this week. But somewhere out there are some little wrens getting a chance to make it in this big, fast-moving world.
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