Late last February, Amy Lignor of Feathered Quill wrote this in her review of I, Claudia:
For anyone looking for one of those easy, cozy reads, this is not it. For someone who is looking for a fantastic plot of the ancient world filled with suspense, romance, and history, this is definitely the book you want. Not only is this a well-researched book that allows the reader to actually feel as if they are walking the streets in Judea and living within this realm, it’s also a book that does not avoid controversy. It simply is a plot so well-crafted that the controversy comes second to the characters you will never forget.
Claudia is the wife of one of the most controversial, and some would say horrific, men to have lived in the ancient world. She is a woman who appears briefly in the Bible, in a single verse of the Gospel of Matthew, where she attempts to persuade her husband not to condemn Jesus to death. But this writer, the award-winning author of the Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery series, takes that person and quite literally turns her into someone readers of today can relate to.
Amy’s is a lengthy review and filled with praise for the book, a fact for which I was deeply appreciative. She also assembled an author interview-unlike most of them, her questions were created specifically by her read of I, Claudia. She asked some questions I’ve never been asked before, making the process of considering her question and then composing a reply a most stimulating process. Here is the interview if you would like to read it. Author Interview.
But for “Do you mind if I boast?” we roll the clock forward to this week, when I learned that I, Claudia had won four top awards in Feathered Quill’s Best Books of 2020.
nominated Claudia as a book warranting the Feather Quill Reviewers Choice Award. This is what she wrote about her reason for doing so:
“Although many writers “dive” into the historical genre, this title shows how amazing a book can be when fantastic research meets up with a great imagination. This author put in the hard work of finding facts and used her creative side to bring the past to life. I couldn’t put it down!”Feathered Quill
On Friday of this week, I received this message from Feathered Quill:
“I, Claudia” has won the Gold/1st Place award in the 2020 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program for the Religious/Spiritual category and Silver/2nd Place in both the Historical and Inspirational categories! Congratulations!”
A first for any of the books I have written to date.
as I write, we are doing the final proofreading of My Name is Saul. I know I have been saying that we are close since late October but I made myself a promise with Saul’s story: I would not push him. No events, no self-imposed deadlines…if the words were not there, I waited.
Saul’s story is too important. My Name is Saul is most assuredly the best edited of any I have written to date: one thing is certain: excellence cannot be achieved alone. A favorite author of mine, Kyle Mills, wrote in his acknowledgements that yes. it was true that he sat alone in the basement writing but the expertise of his fine editorial team was wholly critical to the production of his books. Indeed this is fact.
Laura Ross, thank you for your genuine commitment to the integrity of Saul. Once again, your “intrusive nitpicking” (your phrase, not mine) has allowed Saul’s story to shine. Karen Kibler, it is so very good to be working with you again. Thank you for your accurate and meticulous proofread of the manuscript.
In the Acknowledgements and notes of My Name is Saul, I wrote this:
Writing is always an audacious act…My Name is Saul- coming very soon
Throughout the writing of this book, my decision to imagine the early life of St. Paul has seemed alternatively foolish and wise, arrogant and humbling …
Like most of my novels, My Name is Saul was not my idea. Many writers talk about the sources of their inspiration. They often insist, with natural wonder, that their characters present themselves and take on lives of their own, seemingly outside of their control. These are not all “believers,” by any means—and yet many assert that writing fiction includes a dimension that can only be called mystical. Indeed this is true for me.
Upon completing my last novel, I was stunned to “hear” that my next book would be about St. Paul … Apostle of the Apostles. On more than one occasion, I complained to my husband that this was one of the most foolhardy efforts I had ever taken on. I could only console myself with the fact that it was not my idea but Someone Else’s.
As I sat reeling from the implanted idea and began to research Saul of Tarsus, I grew more and more enthusiastic … excited, even. Perhaps I could penetrate the obscurity with which the early life of St. Paul is shrouded.
I cannot take credit for the words which pierce the hearts of others. Their source is Elsewhere, of that I have no absolutely no doubt. The writing is directed.
This year with Saul has given me far more than I expected…for I have a most surprising new friend. My smile is a rueful one for it has not been all that many years ago that I considered St. Paul the Apostle a misogynist (forgive the use of a word which has depreciated with overuse.) During those years the Saint epitomized all the anger I held toward religion.
Now? Indeed, that phrase, Mind if I boast? changes and radically so for the truth of St. Paul’s words live in my heart …but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.
You’ll be among the first to know when Nancy Cleary has performed her magic and transformed the manuscript into a book.