Selected Works

Historical Fiction
Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end.
Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance's most notorious family, three outsiders must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power.
The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web.
The lives of an ambitious soldier, a patrician heiress and a future emperor fatefully intersect.
The Year of Four Emperors - and four very different women struggling to survive
A brilliant and paranoid Emperor, a wary and passionate slave girl – who will survive?

Ave Historia: An irreverent look at historical fiction today: books trends, historical tidbits, and random tangents

Take A Moment On Memorial Day

May 27, 2012

Tags: memorial day

I admit I have a weakness for warriors, both in real life and in books. In real life I married a 6'2 sailor who boxes and sword-fights in his free time; between the pages of a book, I am drawn to Bernard Cornwell's unapologetically alpha male soldiers and C.S. Forester's moody naval captains. The men in my own books tend to be fighters: “Mistress of Rome” has a terse gladiator for a hero; “Daughters of Rome” has a valiant Praetorian Guard and an ex-rebel chieftan; “Empress of the Seven Hills” has a tough and foul-mouthed career legionary.

But as much we all like to sigh over warriors, it's good to remember that the soldiers, sailors, and fighters of the world give up a lot for that gritty-but-glamorous image. Memorial Day is the day when we are supposed to remember that, but sometimes we forget – we're too happy to have a three-day weekend complete with barbecues, beers, and baseball games. And that's ok: fire up the grill, throw on some steaks, relish your long weekend. But take a moment to remember why.

Because all throughout history, no matter what era they serve in, warriors pay a price.

The nightmares. Sweating inside the wooden horse at Troy wondering if the Trojans are going to catch on and burn you alive; waking up in a cold sweat remembering that Saxon sword coming down at the Battle of Hastings; the hazy flashes of the bullets coming at you over a sand dune in Afghanistan. Bad dreams and broken sleep and apologizing to your wife at 3am because you thought she was that Union soldier coming at you with a bayonet, and you smacked her across the nose before you fully woke up. Bad dreams are a constant for warriors.

The schedule. Because whether you're a knight with an oath to a French lord during the Hundred Years War or a Marine with a set of orders in hand, “I'm kinda busy right now” is not an excuse. You still have to pack up and head out to fight, whether your kid has a Disney-themed birthday party that morning, your daughter is getting betrothed to a wool merchant that afternoon, or your castle is under siege that night. The schedule for warriors is harsh, and always has been.

The stress. Not just on warriors but on their families – medieval wives wondering if their husbands are ever coming home from Crusade; Army wives standing frozen as the doorbell rings, wondering if this time they'll be looking at a military chaplain with a somber expression and some very bad news. Stress on the warriors themselves: the hours are long and grueling whether you're marching through Vietnamese jungles or standing watch on a Viking longship, the food sucks whether it's cooked over a legionary campfire in Parthia or comes from a WWI mess hall; and whether the letters from home arrive on horseback or via email, there are never enough of them.

These are the things warriors deal with, for the most part stoically. These are the things to remember on Memorial Day – not to mention the dead of all wars past and present, the men and women who struggled with the stress and the schedule and the nightmares as best they could, and went home in a box anyway.

My husband and I spent our last Memorial Day apart – he was deployed very far away from me, and over the last seven months we'd had probably fifteen total days together. We're luckier this year: we've got fried chicken crisping on the stove, and the Sox game on in the background, and nothing to do all day but talk, laugh, and enjoy our long weekend. But no matter where we are on Memorial Day, we always take a moment to remember what this day really means, and drink one quiet toast:

“To all the fallen – our honored dead.”

Guest Blog: Historical Women Have Hobbies, Too

May 21, 2012

Tags: guest blog, enchanted by josephine

Guest blogging at one of my favorite book blogs today: Enchanted By Josephine! Today's topic?

"I'm a firm believer that no woman should be all about her love life. Women in the real world who think and talk about nothing but who they're dating are crashing bores – and so are the women in novels who have not a thought in their fictional heads but who they are to marry. But it can be a dilemma in historical fiction: if you are writing about historical women, usually well-born or moneyed ones, then quite often their only job in life really was to get married."

Come on, ladies, just because you live in an era when getting married is your job doesn't mean you can't have other interests! And if you're in one of my books, rest assured I will give you other interests.

To read the rest of the post (and enter the giveaway for a free copy of "Empress of the Seven Hills"), click here! And thanks again to Lucy for having me on Enchanted By Josephine!

7 Things I've Learned So Far

May 11, 2012

Tags: guest blog, the writer's digest

I'm guest blogging over at The Writer's Digest today, adding my two (or seven) cents to the running feature "7 Things I've Learned So Far." Here's number 6:

"6. Grow a thick skin. Those negative reviews will come, and they will hurt. And thanks to the internet and that online presence you’ve worked so hard to create for yourself, it’s tempting to put a snarky comment up on that blogger review, pointing out the blogger’s complete lack of literary discernment and utter misuse of the subjunctive. Resist the impulse, because nothing will trash your reputation faster than public whining about your bad reviews. It’s always better to take the high road and let the bad reviews sink unnoticed, rather than get into an online spat that goes viral. For an example of what NOT to do, just google `Jacqueline Howett The Greek Seaman.'"

Head over to The Writer's Digest to read the rest, and sign up for a free giveaway copy of Empress of the Seven Hills! And a big thank-you to Chuck for having me on The Writer's Digest.

5 Reasons We Read Historical Fiction

May 2, 2012

Tags: empress of the seven hills, writerspace

Over at Writerspace, I'm giving my best five guesses at the reasons we read historical fiction. Reason #2:

"The clothes! Forget trying to squeeze into the skinny jeans and stiletto heels of 2012; let's go back to an era where you could swish around in a gorgeous gown and be considered the ideal beauty at size 16."

Want to hear the rest?

Hop on over to Writerspace and find out!