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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

10 Tips For Living With A Writer

January 31, 2014

Tags: guest blog, blog tour, writerspace, the lion and the rose

I really cackled when I wrote this guest post for Writerspace. I am sad to say that every single one of these examples is drawn from life, either mine or one of my writer pals'. Including Tip #1:

"Do not get freaked by your spouse’s Google search his­tory when it pops up things like “tes­ti­cle ampu­ta­tion tech­niques” or “how to kill a child and get away with it.” It’s all just research."

To read the rest, click here!



Facebook Party Tomorrow!

January 29, 2014

Tags: daughters of the nile, stephanie dray, facebook party


Nobody really likes Thursdays, do they? Not quite Friday, sigh, sigh. So tomorrow, come hang out on Facebook with me instead--I'm joining a really impressive array of historical fiction authors and bloggers, hosting a Facebook party in honor of historical fiction, the 2,023rd anniversary of the Ara Pacis, and the release of my friend Stephanie Dray's newest book, Daughters of the Nile: A novel of Cleopatra's Daughter.


Readers can win free books, lunch at the next Historical Novel Society meeting, swag, gift cards, and other prizes from some of the best authors in this genre. Please join us, and RSVP!

Guest Blog: Borgia Madness

January 23, 2014

Tags: guest blog, blog tour, the reading frenzy

More guest blogging today, over on The Reading Frenzy! Topic? Why I write about the Borgias, which Borgia I'd most like to meet, and all the crazy things that make them tick:

"I couldn't suppress a giggle when I wrote Giulia tearing her beautiful hair in frustration at yet another papal family crisis and crying out, `Maybe there's a REASON Popes aren't supposed to have families!' She's got a point there—Pope Francis today has quite enough to do without having to manage four children and a girlfriend!"

Though wouldn't it be interesting if he did?

For more, click here!





Top Ten Book Boyfriends

January 22, 2014

Tags: blog tour, the lion and the rose

Guest blogging today over on Love Romance Passion, and they've got a great topic: list your top ten fictional heroes. Well, I was reading historical fiction long before I was ever writing it, and there were plenty of historical hunks who will always be on my list of fictional BFs. Like #6:

"Horatio Hornblower from C.S. Forester's Hornblower series. Moody melancholy men might be frustrating to date in real life, but between the pages, Horatio Hornblower is totally worth it: a brilliant naval commander who thinks nothing of taking on four French warships single-handedly, but worries compulsively (and adorably) about his uncontrollable hair and his cheap shoe-buckles when going to dinner at his lady love's."

For more, click here! And who's your favorite fictional date for a night in?

"The Serpent and the Pearl" On Sale For Less Than 1 Cent Per Page!

January 17, 2014

Tags: the serpent and the pearl, the lion and the rose, giveaway

I've got a surprise for you--the book that started my Borgia series is now on sale for less than a penny a page! The Serpent and the Pearl is now, for a limited time only, on sale for all e-readers for only $2.99.

This first book in the series is on sale in support of sequel The Lion and the Rose, just released and probably still sitting near the front at your local bookstore, so if you start reading now, you can swing by and pick up your copy of the sequel with no delays (and no howling at me for any cliffhangers, ahem.)

Buy The Serpent and the Pearl
Amazon | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Kobo

Synopsis:

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web…

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope—and passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.



LR final cover



Happy Release Day!

January 7, 2014

Tags: the lion and the rose, blog tour, release day

For the fifth time in my life, I can type the words “I have a book coming out today!” Usually I'm a nervous wreck on release days--I haunt my Amazon page looking for that first all-important review, and my fingernails are gone before the book's been out 24 hours. But you know what? This time around, I'm just plain excited. Because I'm uniquely proud of "The Lion and the Rose." I think it's the best thing I've ever written, and here's five reasons why:

1. Two kick-ass heroines. I love my two leading ladies in this book, because they really come into their own. Giulia Farnese started as a naive, happy-go-lucky golden girl, and Carmelina started as a prickly cook with a secret, but by this book they've matured into women who aren't afraid to fight for the life they want, and reach for the love they want. And when the rigid Renaissance world they live in says they can't have those things, they say "Screw that."

2. An unconventional hero. I've written a lot of tough-guy warrior heroes, but Leonello is different. He's a dwarf, and that means he's spent his life being kicked around by a world that thinks he's a freak. But he refuses to let it define him. He's every bit as much of a tough guy as any of my gladiators or centurions, and this is the book where he kicks some serious butt. Often in novels, dwarves get stuck as somebody's side-kick or jester--the role to which real-life dwarves were often relegated in times past. This dwarf informed me in no uncertain terms that he wanted center stage.

3. A new hero. I've got a brand-new guy preparing to enter the limelight in this book, and I think he'll sweep you off your feet.

4. Pay-off. When "The Serpent and the Pearl" came out, there were reviews that said it felt like a set-up novel. In a way, it was--and this is the pay-off. A killer was introduced, and now he gets caught. Love struck like a thunderbolt, and now it gets requited. The Borgias rise to power, and now they begin their fall. It all happens here.

5. There's a scene which all my beta readers called "the aphrodisiac potato scene." Enough said. :D

I hope you enjoy "The Lion and the Rose" as much as I enjoyed writing it. For my release day, I'm off to lunch with perpetual launch day buddies Stephanie Dray and Sophie Perinot, who have permission as always to use anything up to and including handcuffs to keep me from my Amazon page. There will be champagne, and there will be laughter, just as there was on my previous four launch days. And as ever, I have to give thanks to the world and to my readers that I am lucky enough to do this for a living!

Meet The Heroine II: A Chef Contemplating Murder

January 3, 2014

Tags: character q&a, the lion and the rose, the serpent and the pearl, blog tour

My secondary heroine from “The Serpent and the Pearl” is usually very tough to track down—as a working girl (cook to the Borgia Pope!) she's always on the move and on the job. But now she's at loose ends, and consented to be interviewed!

Carmelina: Ask as many questions as you want. As long as we're held captive here, I haven't got anything to cook.

Me: You know how many readers accused you of ruining their diets?

Carmelina: Diet? What's that?

Me: It's when people swear off butter or cream or pasta—

Carmelina: Why would anybody ever do that? Swear off pasta? Pasta is delicious!

Me: Well, it's fattening. People stop eating it so they can be thinner.

Her: Who wants to be thin? My mistress Giulia Farnese is the most renowned beauty in Rome, and she's a solid size 14 in your sizing charts.

Me: Jesus, I wish I lived in the Renaissance.

Her: No, you don't. I'm the best cook in Rome, and I don't even get paid for it because I'm a woman.

Me: Fair point. So, how are you faring in captivity?

Her: Madonna Giulia has managed to keep the French from raping us all, God bless her. If she can hold them off a few more days, the Pope should have us all ransomed and home. Can't be soon enough for me.

Me: Leonello said that you—

Her: That little bastard talked about me?

Me: A little. He said he knows things about you . . .

Carmelina: How dare he!

Me: Look, I'm your creator. Believe me, I already know all your secrets. What people really want to know is this—are you really planning to poison Leonello before he outs you? Because you were looking pretty determined . . .

Ok, Carmelina just stomped out. Looks like you'll have to wait till tomorrow to see if she put hemlock in our hero's wine or not!


Meet The Hero: A Dangerous Dwarf On His Deathbed . . .

January 3, 2014

Tags: character q&a, the lion and the rose, the serpent and the pearl, blog tour

My “Lion and the Rose” hero is still flat on his back on a stretcher, but he consented to an interview. :D


Leonello: Consented, hah. You cornered me, woman. It's not exactly like I can run away when I'm full of broken bones.

Me: Yes, I'm sorry about that.

Leonello: Nothing to do with you. I'm a bodyguard and I defended my charge, simple as that. My own decision, I assure you.

Me: Well, I am your creator—

Leonello: As if you ever made me do anything I didn't want to do.

Me: Fair point. How are you feeling?

Leonello: Like a French army stamped all over me. Which it did. I'm probably dying.

Me: Surely not—

Leonello: If the blood loss doesn't kill me, the cook probably will. She hates me.

Me: What did you do to her?

Leonello: Carmelina? I know a few things about her that could make life very uncomfortable. I may have rubbed it in, when I pointed that out.

Me: Was that entirely necessary?

Leonello: Just because I am small does not mean I am cute, kind, or cuddly.

Me: No, it certainly doesn't. Not only do you have a tongue like a razor, you kick a surprising amount of butt for a person of reduced height—

Leonello: Dwarf. Call it what it is.

Me: We're more politically correct in this century.

Leonello: Dio, I don't even want to know what that is. Am I done now?


Meet The Heroine: The Pope's Mistress In Captivity

January 3, 2014

Tags: character q&a, the lion and the rose, the serpent and the pearl, blog tour

“The Lion and the Rose: a novel of the Borgias” releases in just three days! Usually I'm nervous for my release days, but this time around I just can't wait. Because this book is sequel to “The Serpent and the Pearl,” which came out last August and ended on just a leetle bit of a cliffhanger, and I'm delighted that this time around, I didn't have to leave my readers hanging for too long. (I really am sorry, “Empress of the Seven Hills” fans.)

And my three main characters of “Serpent and the Pearl” were all in a very tight spot on the last page—captured by the French army, with their lives very literally on the line! Over the next few days I'll be interviewing each of my characters here on my blog as a promo. Today let's welcome Giulia Farnese, mistress to the Borgia Pope and currently a French captive when she got waylaid by an invading army on her way home from a family visit . . .

Giulia: Do you have any of that stuff called chocolate which you introduced me to at our last interview? You left me in a very bad place, sticking me with the French between books, and frankly if a girl ever earned an out-of-her-century treat, it's me.

Me: Yes, of course. Try a Snicker's bar, you'll love it.

Giulia: Thank you. I always eat when I'm being held hostage.

Me: I truly am sorry about leaving you in enemy hands for five months . . .

Giulia: Oh, that's all right. It's not as long as five months in my world. “Snickers,” why is it called that? Nothing to snicker about, being a French captive. They're pigs.

Me: Are they really?

Giulia: Well, they've been relatively nice once they realized what Rodrigo—

Me: Can you tell the readers who that is, for the ones who didn't read the first book?

Giulia: Rodrigo Borgia. His Holiness, Pope Alexander VI. I'm his mistress.

Me: Wow. Our current pope, um—well, he's a little different. I don't really know what would happen if he came out and told the world “Hi, I have a twenty-two year old girlfriend with floor-length hair.”

Giulia: Maybe he'd be more relaxed. It's a very tiring job, being Pope.

Me: Well, anyway. The French?

Giulia: They've been relatively nice to me once they realized what the Holy Father would pay to get me back.

Me: So you're going home?

Giulia: On page 1. God knows if it'll be in time to save my bodyguard, though. Leonello, his name is, and he nearly killed himself protecting me—the French beat him so badly. I'm making them pay for it.

Me: How?

Giulia: I've acted like an utter haughty bitch ever since they captured me. I'm normally quite an easy-going sort of person, but I've been complaining and pitching fits for that French general ever since he laid hands on me. He'll be quite glad to see the back of me, I assure you.

Me: Sounds like you have things well in hand, then. Good luck, Giulia!

Giulia: Can you do me a favor? Pray for my bodyguard. I'm going to be all right—I just want to get home to Rodrigo, who isn't nearly as frightening as people seem to think all the Borgias are. But I really don't know if Leonello's going to live or not.

Me: I could tell you, but that would spoil the surprise. Thanks for dropping by!