Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Notes From the Writer Cave

Sometimes drafting is a real pain in my neck, I'm not going to lie. I'm making progress on this New Book, but I spend a LOT of time second-guessing myself. This is normal for me. It's normal for me to hate my manuscript, starting somewhere in the middle, and continuing through to the end -- I just get to a point where I feel like all I'm doing is flailing around uselessly and for every one step forward it's five steps back, and all my words are wasted.

It's not generally true. My words are fine. My manuscript is moving along and in pretty solid form. But it's a real fight to convince myself that's the case and keep writing forward instead of going back and cursing myself for being a crappy writer who writes crap.

This is the textbook case for an Alpha reader. Someone to look at the book as I'm writing it and say "No, you're being ridiculous, this book looks great, keep going, you're fine!"

There are definitely books that would not have been finished if it hadn't been for my Alphas.

This is one of them.

(98K and counting. 10 days left to finish.)


Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Helen of Sparta's Blog Tour is Happening Now!

For those of you who might be interested in following along with the adventures of HELEN OF SPARTA in the wild, here's the run down of the blogtour, happening now! So far we've had some really great interviews and reviews, and there are more to come, so check it out!



Wednesday, April 1
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Let Them Read Books
 
Thursday, April 2
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, April 3
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Saturday, April 4
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, April 6
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 7
Spotlight at www.leeanna.me

Wednesday, April 8
Review at Historical Reads and Views

Thursday, April 9
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Friday, April 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, April 13
Interview at Book Babe
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
 
Tuesday, April 14
Review at Forever Ashley

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, April 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, April 17
Review at Impressions in Ink

Saturday, April 18
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, April 20
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
 
Tuesday, April 21
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, April 22
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

HELEN OF SPARTA is now up to a rockin' 450+ reviews on Amazon, too, for which I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who read and reviewed and posted! Keep on being awesome! And if you haven't grabbed your copy of Helen of Sparta yet, it's available to order in paperback wherever books are sold, and the you can find the ebook on Amazon.com!

In Non-Helen news -- did you see Honor Among Orcs on BuzzFeed's list of 21 Types of Romance Novels You Have To See To Believe?

And now I'm diving back into the writer cave -- 30K more words to write before the month is out!

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mycenaean Women and the Megaron

In researching the Mycenaean Palaces of the Greek Bronze Age, I came across a paper discussing the purpose of the megaron (by Jarrett Farmer), primarily arguing that it was less a throne room, and more a center of ritual -- in spite of evidence suggesting a throne -- and only an occasional space, rather than one in every day use as a political audience chamber. His theory is based on a number of things, from the wear of the floor tiles to the limited access to the physical space itself, but one part of the argument is the real dearth of imagery of MEN sitting upon thrones of any kind:
Rehak compared images of seated figures from frescos (Fig12), sealings (Figs 13, 14), rings (Fig 15), and sealstones to the fresco motifs in the megaron, and put forward the startling observation that almost all seated figures of identifiable sex in Aegean art are female.
Hm.

Mycenaean Ring with a Seated Goddess
By Zde (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wiki Commons
In particular there's discussion of a few processional images, in which men are carrying cups toward a seated woman on a throne, and how these images are most often interpreted as goddesses receiving honors or offerings. But, Farmer says, why couldn't they be reflective of just the standard operating procedures of ritual at the time? Why COULDN'T the throne in the megaron have been meant for a woman? Especially if the space was NOT in fact a throne room for the king, but rather, a ritual/cult/religious space?

Well, for that matter, why couldn't women, as priestesses, have been running the place -- but okay, maybe there isn't a lot of support for that in the linear b tablets, so I can see why no one would want to make that claim.

BUT.

It does, perhaps, put a slightly different spin on the whole "Helen's husband would become King of Sparta" element of the mythology, doesn't it? Because what if Helen weren't just a princess -- what if her role was something greater than that? Something related to the megaron as a ritual and religious space? What if that throne in the megaron was going to be hers?

And not just the myths involving Helen, either, but also the story of Ariadne and Theseus -- Ariadne, the princess of Crete, daughter of Minos. The woman who helped Theseus escape, only to be abandoned on Naxos and made a goddess by Dionysus. Dionysus, who himself may or may not have been related, at that time, to the hearth and the fire and the ritual drinking taking place in the megaron. A priestess Ariadne as the consort of such a god makes an incredible amount of sense.

I'm not sure we'll ever really know one way or the other what the roles of women were in Mycenaean Greece, but theories and discussions like these definitely provide some food for thought.



Available Now! 
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.





Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Isocrates on Helen

Tomorrow, HELEN OF SPARTA is available everywhere (!!!!) and so I thought it only fitting to talk a little bit about Helen herself -- Isocrates makes an interesting argument regarding Helen's beauty which I think is particularly worth sharing:
Helen of Troy
Helen of Troy by Evelyn de Morgan
via wikimedia commons
16. [...]While most of the demigods owed their existence to Zeus, she was the only woman of whom he condescended to be called the father. While he took most interest in the son of Alcmene and the children of Leda, he so far showed preference for Helen over Heracles, that, having granted such strength to the latter that he was enabled to overcome all by force, he allotted to Helen the gift of beauty, which is destined to bring even strength into subjection to it. 17. Knowing, further, that distinction and renown arise, not from peace, but from wars and combats, and wishing not only to exalt their bodies to heaven, but to bestow upon them an everlasting remembrance, he ordained a life of toil and danger for the one, while he granted to the other beauty that was universally admired and became the object of universal contention.

Basically, he says, Zeus gave Helen the ABSOLUTE most powerful gift, raising her up over Heracles, because even strength is helpless in the face of such beauty as Helen possessed.  And not only that! But as further proof of his favor, he made sure Helen would NEVER be forgotten, because, basically, she would be fought over forever by everyone.

But the thing Isocrates fails to take into consideration is this: Heracles can choose where to leverage his strength. He can decide to ransack a city, or kill a lion with nothing but a club and his bare hands. He has CONTROL over his strengths, for the most part -- unless he's being directly manipulated by the gods, or else has flown into a rage (possibly because of direct manipulation by the gods.)

Helen, on the other hand, is given this incredible gift, this incredible beauty, but left with no control over it. None. And to add insult to injury, she is BLAMED and held solely accountable for the results. She is cursed for causing the Trojan War, cursed for betraying and abandoning her husband and daughter. All the blood of all the men who follow her to Troy, and all the men who fight for her right to remain there is on her hands, all that death on her head, and her head alone.

Yes, Helen was remembered. But not as a hero. Unlike Odysseus, and Heracles, and Theseus, Helen is not famous for her noble deeds.

She is infamous for her lack of virtue.

If that's how Zeus treats his favorites, I'd rather be overlooked altogether.




Available April 1, 2015 
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.





Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Helen, Theseus, and the Mythic Seeds of Discord

The conflicts between Sparta and Athens run deep and long, and as we all know from reading Homer and Herodotus, it was the habit of the ancient world to take common ideas and issues along with common ways-of-doing-things and reflect those back onto the struggles of their heroes in myth. Perhaps then, it would be stranger if Sparta and Athens did not have anything to fight over during the age of heroes.

What if, in part, this was the purpose of Theseus' abduction of Helen in the myths?

Theseus Helene Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2309 n2
Helen and Theseus
via wikimedia commons
The House of Atreus was known to be cursed, after all, and I have no trouble believing that if Theseus made an honest offer of marriage to Tyndareus and it was refused in favor (either in fact, or by assumption) of Menelaus and Mycenae, Athens would find that snub very offensive indeed. How dare Sparta insult their hero by choosing a cursed man as the husband of Helen over Theseus?

But that wouldn't be all. You see, the conflict goes both ways. Say that, in retaliation of this snub, or even just for funsies, Theseus chooses to take what he wants after all. He's deserving. Certainly he is, by pedigree, a better match for Helen than Menelaus could ever be. Theseus is a son of Poseidon, a (for the moment) successful and powerful king, and a hero equal only to Heracles. Add into the equation the dodgy influence of piratical Pirithous, and it's easy to see how Theseus might be persuaded to pursue Helen without her father's consent. Even to go so far as to kidnap her (because it isn't like he hasn't whisked women off before--and that kind of behavior was well established by Heracles, and even more established by the behavior of the gods who did that kind of thing with great regularity. Helen herself is a product of this same entitlement, after all!).

Sparta, taking great offense by the kidnap of their princess and HEIR, sends off their best to get her back. Helen's brothers, Castor and Pollux--the Dioscuri--find her if not in Athens, at the very least, under the power of Theseus, possibly even violated by him! I can't imagine Sparta not being highly insulted and infuriated by such a thing, and these Greeks-- they know how to hold a grudge.

Take into account the fact that in the process of Helen's retrieval, Castor and Pollux upset the inheritance of Athens by putting their own man on the throne, and you've got an even greater recipe for long-standing conflict. Sparta has just added insult to injury by meddling in Athens' politics. You don't even need Athens to have been insulted by the choosing of Menelaus over Theseus first (though I will say that I find that to be pretty compelling).

In this one story, a relative latecomer to the drama and tragedy of Helen of Troy, the seeds of enmity between Sparta and Athens have been sewn. These Myths, after all, are the ancient Greek way of explaining the whys and wherefores.

So, why are Sparta and Athens constantly finding reasons to dispute with one another? Well you see, once long ago, there was a girl named Helen....



Available April 1, 2015 
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.





Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Friday, March 20, 2015

TAMING FATE is FREE for kindle This Weekend Only!

If you've been waiting for a chance to get a taste of the Fate of the Gods series before you dive in -- this is your chance! TAMING FATE, my 15th century historical fantasy novella is FREE this weekend for Kindle!

Not sure if you're ready to commit to free until you know more about the novella? Here's the back cover copy:

For the first time in her many lives, Eve would rather be anywhere but home. 

In 15th Century France, Eve would have burned as a witch if it hadn’t been for the too-timely arrival of the Marquis DeLeon to save her skin. But Eve didn’t ask to be rescued, and their hasty marriage is off to anything but a smooth start. As tensions in the town grow and plague threatens, Ryam DeLeon knows if he and Eve cannot find common ground, their first Christmas may be their last.
STILL not sure?
How about a snippet?
“The crowd will thin after they’ve seen you,” Ryam murmured against her ear as he helped her from his carriage. She had not been quite prepared for such a crowd of men and women, and for a moment she remembered the mob which had come to her house in Avignon, demanding her father give her up…

She blinked and the angry mob became a host of excited faces, hoping to catch her eye. Some of the tension eased, her stomach unknotting.

“Not more than half of them will stay,” Ryam was saying, “and the children will be sent to their beds, to be sure.” He drew a pouch from inside his houppelande, and held it out to her. “Gold pieces for the children. For the Christmas goose.”

“My lady!” a mother called, holding her child tight to her chest. “My lady, please, your blessings for my son!”

Ryam smiled reassurance. “They had despaired of my ever finding a bride at all, I think, after my mother died. You would have liked her. It was her idea to start giving the people gold instead of silver.”

That was something Jesus would have appreciated, too. She took one of the coins from the pouch, frowning at it. What should have been the King’s coat of arms was instead a lion’s head, with not a fleur-de-lis to be found at all, only an odd shaped hammer on the back. If she hadn’t known any better, she would have thought it some pagan symbol. “But this is no écu.”

“The House of Lions has struck its own coins since the time of Charlemagne, though we pay our taxes in ingots,” Ryam explained, guiding her toward the women and children, lined up neatly and waiting for their coins. “We are so isolated in the mountains and so disinterested in the affairs of Europe, the king does not fear we will compete against his own currencies and very few of our Lions reach his coffers, besides.”

She gave a coin to the boy belonging to the woman who had called to her, and pressed a kiss to the child’s forehead. Beside her, Ryam did much the same, touching a little girl’s head, squeezing a boy’s shoulder, reassuring a grief-stricken widow and her twin daughters that they would not lose their farm if they could not make the rents. He might have believed they had come to see her, but a word from their Marquis, who knew them each by name, was the reason they left with their heads held higher and shoulders unbowed. Their concerns had been heard, their fears eased. She began to wonder if they had not wished to see her, only to reassure themselves that marriage had not changed their lord.

“My lady,” a young girl said softly. “If you could—me brother’s home sick in his bed, too ill even to do more than moan in his sleep. Me ma said that I might ask for an extra piece of gold, for a doctor to come see to him.”

She glanced at Ryam, but they’d been separated by so many people, all she could find of him was his blue and gold sleeve. If the boy was truly that sick, the family had probably waited too long for what passed for healing now to save him. She pressed her lips together, crouching down before the small, ash-haired girl, taking the hand held out to her.

“Tell me how it began. Was it a cough or a sore throat or aches in his body?”

“His neck hurt, my lady. That’s what he said. And then under his arms, too. Sometimes he lies in his blankets and shakes and shudders, his tongue lolling like he’s possessed. Me mam keeps him all covered, neck to toes and says we aren’t allowed near him. But his face was so dirty—I tried to wash it but the dirt is stuck to his nose.”

A chill slipped down her spine, and she swallowed against the tight ball of fear rising from her stomach. Plague. The boy had the plague. “Take me to him. At once.”


And while you're over yonder on Amazon, don't forget that HELEN OF SPARTA is a kindle first title this month! You can grab the ebook NOW before it's official release on April 1st!  And/Or! There's a fabulous Goodreads giveaway hosted by my publisher in which you could win one of TWENTY paperback copies of HELEN OF SPARTA!

As always, if you enjoy reading ANY of my books, please do consider writing a review on Amazon/Goodreads, so that other people can find and enjoy them too!



Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble