A brand new blog for me today: I’m over at “The Maiden’s Court” where Heather asked me all about Roman fashion. I say, let’s bring it back:
“The Roman ideal of female beauty is something I wouldn’t mind seeing brought back on modern magazine covers. Thin, tan, and toned? You’d be told to eat some more stuffed dormice, stay out of the sun, and for Jupiter’s sake get rid of those leg muscles before people mistake you for a slave girl. Soft, tan-free, and voluptuous was the ideal Roman look–and speaking as a girl who’s always looked more Joan from ‘Mad Men’ than Blair from ‘Gossip Girl,’ the Roman way is a look I can get behind.”
For more, click here. And thanks to Heather for having me.
A two-for-one special today as I pop up on two different blogs: Daphne’s “Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books” and Lizzy’s “Historically Obsessed.” For Daphne I’ve got a post on the four men who starred in the Year of Four Emperors – a cranky old man, a metrosexual party boy, a rabid sports fan, and an EveryDad; read here for more details. And for Lizzy I’ve got a post – ok, maybe a rant – on the perils of writing historical fiction while on a diet: “Obsessed with Roman food? Scratch that. While writing my historical fiction novel Daughters of Rome, I was obsessed with any food, because I wasn’t getting any. I was on a diet while writing the second half of the book, and it was a form of torture I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.” Read here to continue!
Hmm, I’m not sure if this is Day 6 of my blog tour, since it’s the sixth day I’m a guest for another blogger, or Day 9 since it’s been three days since the last blog post. Whatever. You can see why I’m a writer and not a mathematician.
Anyway, Svea over on “Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog” has been nice enough to give me her blog space today. My guest topic: if I have four heroines in “Daughters of Rome,” then which one is the most like me. Answer: all of them. A sample . . .
“Marcella is my second heroine, and she’s a lot like me: an antisocial booklover who would rather be writing up in her study than partying any day of the week. Marcella was not a stretch for me to write. And we share something else besides a passion for scribbling–an hourglass figure, which is a great inconvenience to a smart girl. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a brain when you’re over a C-cup. “Contrary to popular opinion, breasts do not preclude a brain,” Marcella tartly informs a man in “Daughters of Rome” who is surprised to find she has actual ideas. I remember telling a boy in high school the same thing.”
For more, click Click here. And thanks to Svea for having me.
Day 5 of my blog tour, and the last one until after the weekend. Today I’m over at “Luxury Reading,” with a guest post on that ever-popular question “Where does your inspiration come from?” Plus their standard question – what is your ultimate luxury? My answer –
“My ultimate luxury is the glass of Yellowtail chardonnay I pour for myself after a full day of writing, as I turn on the Red Sox game and sink into a dilapidated chaise so obscenely comfortable I’ve nicknamed it the Sybaritic Chair. A glass of wine after 6,000 words worth of new chapter, as I watch Big Papi swagger up to the plate with the game on the line . . . ahhh.”
Click here to read more! They’re also posting a giveaway, so be sure to enter for a free copy of Daughters of Rome.
Day 4 of my blog tour – it’s been great to talk to so many readers online. Today I’m over at “Booking Mama,” with a guest post on a few of the things I wish I’d known when my first book came out. Tip #3:
“For the love of God, hide all negative reviews from friends and family. My mother nearly gave herself a stroke last year when she read Mistress of Rome‘s first one-star review; she was still fuming about it days after I’d forgotten the whole thing. As for my husband . . . well, I had one Amazon reviewer who complained that `some friend of the author’s wrote snide comments all over my review; how unprofessional; I will never read this author’s work again if this is how I am treated!’ Listen, don’t blame me–you’re lucky you got away with a few snarky comments, because my husband was so mad he wanted to punch you in the nose.”
Day 3 of my blog tour – so far I’m managing to keep everybody and their blogs straight. Today I’m over on Darlene’s blog “Peeking Between the Pages” – one of my favorites! Darlene is hosting a giveaway for a free copy of “Daughters of Rome,” so be sure to sign up, and has been kind enough to let me be her guest blogger for today. My topic: what happens when a modern 21st century girl takes a time machine back to 1st century Rome? A sneak peek . . .
“Miss 21st Century is pleased to look around her and realize that Roman women clearly don’t hit the gym to stay beautiful. The desired look here is less Elena from `The Vampire Diaries’ and more Joan from `Mad Men:’ voluptuous, untanned, and muscle-free. And the men are even better: clean-shaven and short-haired is in for Roman men, so no moody goatee boys or wannabe musician-types who think a soul patch is the height of fashion.”
Click here to read more!
My second book Daughters of Rome is finally out! Since this is my second trip around the block, I know a few more things now than I did last year, when I spent Mistress of Rome‘s pub date anxiously refreshing my Amazon page to catch that first review. This year I know enough to keep myself away from the computer (ok, almost), have another book on hand to read for distraction(thank you, Michael Grant, for publishing the fourth book in the “Gone” series today), and most important of all – drink lots of champagne.
It’s also Day 2 of my blog tour, and the lovely Amy has been kind enough to have me over to her blog “Passages To The Past” for a guest interview. A sneak preview:
“The Year of Four Emperors – it’s an instantly fascinating combination of words to any bored history student looking desperately for passion and bloodshed between all the dry lists of dates and treaties.”
Click here to read more! Amy is also hosting a giveaway, so be sure to enter to win a free copy of Daughters of Rome.
Publication day for my new book “Daughters of Rome” isn’t until tomorrow, but my blog tour has already begun! I’m very excited to be visiting some new blogs as well as returning to some favorites, either as a guest blogger or for an author interview. I’ll be updating daily here, so check in if you want to follow me around the blogosphere.
I’m starting off my blog tour with the lovely Marjolein Book Blog. Marjolein has a great review of “Daughters of Rome,” and invited me to be a guest blogger as well. My topic: Young Adult Historical Fiction. A teaser . . .
“One of the first things that drew me to historical fiction was my envious realization that kids and teenagers in other eras actually got to do stuff. I might be stuck in middle school, bored senseless by my algebra homework, the biggest crisis of my day being how to cover up a zit. But in a historical fiction novel, I was old enough for anything!”
To read more, click over to Marjolein’s book blog here!
I’m postponing my usual Teaser Tuesday this week, so I can post the very first critical review of Daughters of Rome. It came in last week from Publishers Weekly, and I’m thrilled!
“Quinn’s follow-up to last year’s Mistress of Rome focuses on four Roman women: Cornelia, the “perfect Roman wife,” is poised to become the next empress; her sister, Marcella, is a historian with a budding appetite for manipulating powerful men; cousin Lollia finds herself constantly bartered off to different influential men, though only her slave truly knows her heart; and cousin Diana lives for the excitement of the chariot races. Quinn sets her novel in the “Year of the Four Emperors,” A.D. 69, a tumultuous time of shifting loyalties. What unfolds is a soap opera of biblical proportions: when Otho deposes Emperor Galba, Cornelia’s husband loses his head–literally; Marcella steps in to pull Galba’s strings, but future emperor Domitian keeps an adoring, if untrusting, eye on her. All four women must make major sacrifices and risk losing everything–including their lives. Quinn’s prequel lacks the darkness of her debut, but not the intensity. She juggles protagonists with ease and nicely traces the evolution of Marcella–her most compelling character–from innocuous historian to evil manipulator. Readers will become thoroughly immersed in this chaotic period of Roman history.”
I used to think there was nothing better than finding a terrific new book that I’ve never read before. Wrong. Even better than that is finding a terrific new book that I’ve never read before, then discovering that it is the first of a series and two more books in the series are already out and another is being released in four months with more books to follow. That is pure heaven. And one way or another, it has been a great year for fiction series. Here are a few books I’m looking forward to in 2011, after being left on tenterhooks by the last installment in the series . . .
1. Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Series.”
Cornwell is just about my favorite historical fiction author out there, and the Saxon Series is his latest smash hit. Revolving around the reign of Alfred the Great in the days when Vikings were still rampaging all over England, Cornwell focuses not on the devout and humorless Alfred as he tries to put a nation together but on Alfred’s most heroic (and reluctant) ally: Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Viking-raised warlord with an unstoppable talent for killing on the battlefield, and an equally unstoppable bent for trouble off it. Cornwell’s last installment The Burning Land left Uhtred bereft of the woman he loves but burying his troubles in his favorite hobby–killing enemies. The next Uhtred book should be out sometime this fall.
2. Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files.”
I’m usually a lukewarm fan when it comes to urban fantasy, but Jim Butcher got me hook line and sinker. His Dresden Files are expansive, complex, and always funny, a rare quality in fantasy. Harry Dresden is a professional wizard in modern-day Chicago with a gift for pissing off various forces of darkness, and a complete disability to back down from a fight. His “Have staff, will smite” attitude and steady stream of snarky one-liners has carried him through twelve books to date, and the last, Changes, was the most harrowing yet. Harry has lost everything, including his life . . . or has he? The last page of Changes is one long maddening cliffhanger, thankfully to be solved on April 5, 2011 by the next volume in the Dresden Files, titled Ghost Story.
3. Sara Poole’s “Poison” series.
Sara Poole is a new author I found this year with her novel Poison, a lush and unflinching look at the Italian Renaissance and the always fascinating Borgia family through the eyes of a very unusual heroine. Francesca is the Borgia family’s professional in-house poisoner, a young and deceptively demure-faced girl whose day job is to keep the Borgias alive and their enemies dead. Francesca had me riveted from the first page when she got her job by poisoning her predecessor and then calmly explaining how she did it; a heroine so amoral and yet so centered is a delight. I will be first in line on June 7, 2011 when The Borgia Betrayal is released–the second installment of Francesca’s adventures now that her Borgia master has become Pope.
4. Michael Grant’s “Gone” series.
Cross Stephen King’s Under The Dome with Lord of the Flies, add a dash of X-Men, and you get Gone: the disturbing tale of what happens to a small California beach town when an impenetrable barrier slams down–but traps only the fourteen-and-under crowd inside. Kids begin to mutate alarming powers and a mysterious darkness is growing, but the most interesting part of the story for me is seeing a shy teenager named Sam grow into hero and leader as his brainy girlfriend tries to re-invent a Constitution that will govern fairly and effectively over the increasingly desperate and violent band of children. The fourth book in the series, Plague, will be release April 5, 2011.
5. George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series.
Is there even the smallest chance that we will see Dance of Dragons this year, given that it is now at least two years overdue? One character has been left hanging from a tree by a noose, another rots in jail, a third is stricken suddenly blind, and others have been MIA since the previous book. Oh well, this massive fantasy series remains my favorite in the fantasy genre, about which I am usually fairly unenthusiastic. Martin keeps his work close to history, and I always have fun finding the War of the Roses in-jokes or the Stuart Kings parallels. Let’s hope we finally see the fifth installment this year.
These are only my top five series. I’ve got a lot of reading to do this year, and I look forward to it. Special thanks to the publishers of Michael Grant and Jim Butcher, who were kind enough to schedule Ghost Story and Plague to be released the same day as my second book, Daughters of Rome. It’s always a bit of a head-scratcher figuring out what to do on the day of your novel’s release. It’s not a movie, so there’s no premiere to attend in a fabulous gown. You can’t start checking your online reviews yet, since most people (even assuming they buy the book on the first day) still need to time to read it. You can’t even go down to your local bookstore just to gaze at your book on the shelf, since most bookstores don’t stock your book the minute it is released unless you are JK Rowling or at least Richelle Mead. Last year when Mistress of Rome was released I wandered around my apartment and bit my nails a lot. This year when Daughters of Rome is released, on Tuesday April 5, 2011, I will be nose deep in the adventures of either Harry Dresden or the scrappy mutant kids of the FAYZ. Thank God for distractions.
And for those of you who were kind enough to tell me you were happily anticipating Daughters of Rome as one of your 2011 reads–well, it’s still three months till publication, but I did get permission to post the first chapter. Read here if you would like a sneak peek!