April 25, 2011

{GIVEAWAY!} Finding Emilie: Guest Post by Laurel Corona

The following is an article written by author Laurel Corona, who has recently published her newest novel, Finding Emilie (4/12/2011). This article has been republished with permission from the author.
I reviewed this novel for The Burton Book Review and loved it so much that I am reposting this guest post and offering you a chance to snag your own copy.. see below for giveaway details!!!

Emilie sounds like such a magnificent lady-- charming, scientific, exhibitionist, Voltaire's lover... read a review here.

Finding Emilie, by Laurel Corona

Emilie du Ch√Ętelet: Physicist and Party Girl

The Marquise du Chatelet’s parlor at her husband’s ancestral home in Cirey looked in many respects like that of any other aristocrat. The banquettes were plush, the chairs ornately carved, the tea and liqueurs beautifully arrayed in Sevres porcelain cups and tinted crystal glasses, the cakes and pastries freshly baked by the servants in the basement kitchen.

Only one thing was unique: in the center of the parlor, with chairs arrayed around, was a bathtub--a bathtub with Emilie in it, happily chatting away with her guests while clothed only in a diamond necklace and a silk chemise, transparent when wet. When her water cooled, a manservant recalled in his memoir, he would bring hot water and pour it between her parted knees, which revealed, in his words, “all her nature.”

Well, why not? Emilie du Chatelet was brilliant at everything, but was best at two things: knowing what she wanted, and getting it. From the age of ten she used her prodigious mathematical intelligence to beat adults at cards at the salons, then taught herself math and science from the books she bought with her winnings. As a young wife and mother, she occasionally cross-dressed to go to scientific meetings forbidden to women. When she wanted to learn to sing, she hired one of the voice teachers at the Comedie Italienne as her private tutor, learning whole lead soprano roles by heart even if she would never sing on stage.

Vivacious, irrepressible, charming, and daring, Emilie blazed through the world of Louis XV’s France, but her corset, wig, and panniers hid the most incredible thing about her: her first-rate scientific mind. Emilie du Chatelet used her privileged life to become one of the most important women of science not just in her era but in any. The fact that she is not a household word has far more to say about others than it does about her.

Believing until her thirties that her studies were just for curiosity and that she would never amount to anything as a scientist, she spent years helping her lover, Voltaire, conduct scientific experiments and write a work on Newton which he claimed as his own work. Voltaire had no particular aptitude for such work, but he wanted a seat in the French Academy of Science as a complement to his fame as France’s preeminent man of letters. He never got close. Today, it’s commonly believed that any solid, original thinking in Voltaire’s scientific works is attributable to Emilie.

A prize offered by the Academy of Sciences for the best paper on the nature of fire caused Emilie to break away scientifically from Voltaire and submit her own paper anonymously. She did not win, but received an honorable mention and the unusual acclaim of having her paper published alongside the winner--an indication that the only reason she had not won was because the Academy was unprepared to give the prize to a woman.

She continued a dual life of courtly obligations and scientific work into her early forties, when at the unheard-of age of forty-three, she got pregnant by a dashing young soldier- poet, with whom she had a passionate affair.

Premonitions of death in childbirth caused Emilie to work at a breakneck pace on her most important work, a translation of Newton’s Principia Mathematica. But hers was no mere translation. Few could comprehend Newton’s work, so Emilie rewrote it in French that scientists could understand. She also wrote commentaries to explain and expand upon Newton’s points, and in places where Newton had not presented adequate mathematical proof, Emilie figured out what those proofs would be and supplied the equations. Her translation of Newton’s Principia is still, 250 years later, the standard one used in France.

Unfortunately, Emilie’s premonitions turned out to be true. After an uneventful labor and delivery, she died six days after the birth of a daughter, Stanislas-Adelaide, probably of an embolism.

My novel is about finding Emilie on many levels. First, I “found” her and wanted to tell her story. But the book is less about her than her daughter. Effectively orphaned, Lili (as the girl is known) grows up, at least in my imagination, as unusual and independent of mind as the scandalous woman who bore her. Reaching her teens, Lili’s world closes around her as an impending loveless marriage threatens to take away her independence of spirit and dreams for her future. Believing that learning about her mother may point the way for her own life, she sets out to find Emilie for herself. Last, readers will find Emilie through the real-life scenes that appear between the chapters.

Welcome to 2011, Madame la Marquise! A more appreciative world awaits.
Thanks to Laurel Corona for providing her with this piece! Her books can be found at online retailers at the following links:
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository

2 lucky followers of HF-Connection will be randomly chosen from your comments. Leave me your email address so that I can email the winner..

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Giveaway is open USA, ends 5/7/11. Good Luck!!

April 22, 2011

{Free Download!} Guest Post: Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant

Please welcome author Phyllis Zimbler Miller to Historical Fiction Connection. She is the author of the novel Mrs. Lieutenant.

Free download!

Becoming a New Mrs. Lieutenant During the Vietnam War

Almost 41 years ago, in May of 1970, I drove with my husband from Elgin, Illinois, to Ft. Knox, Kentucky. My ROTC husband was about to go on active duty with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Phyllis Zimbler and Mitchell Miller at the Coronation Ball at Michigan State University on Saturday, November 18, 1967, sponsored by the Cadet Officers Club and the Arnold Air Society.

Those nine weeks that my husband attended Armor Officers Basic were an amazing experience for me. I came to know people whom I never would have met otherwise.

To begin with, my husband arranged to carpool with an officer from the South. His wife and I thus also had to carpool if we didn’t want to sit in our hot apartments every day.

She and her husband had never met Jews before, plus they were not so happy that we were Northerners. At times this was an uneasy alliance, especially as it was only six years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Next, although the army had not said wives could come and no on-post housing was provided, it turned out there was a training course to teach us new officers’ wives how to be good officers’ wives.

I saved all of my original documents from these nine weeks. I felt even then, right at the start of the women’s liberation movement, that this experience was an important slice of women’s social history.
click to enlarge
About 20 years later two film producers optioned the story for a movie, then they told me I had to first write a book. By the time I had the draft of a novel written, they had moved on.

I worked on the novel for another 20 years, including hiring an editorial consultant to figure out the one thing “missing” from the story, and of course I collected numerous rejection slips.

Once print-on-demand became an option I decided to self-publish. (I didn’t want stacks of self-published books sitting in my garage.)

Why a novel? Because I wanted to create characters who represented the people I met without being the real people. Thus the characters in the novel are a combination of several people.

At the same time I set about self-publishing, I entered the novel in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and “Mrs. Lieutenant” was chosen a semi-finalist. Amazon gave each of us semi-finalists a page, and one semi-finalist had something I didn’t have – a blog.

From that day on I never looked back. I threw myself into learning all about online marketing.

In the beginning I made numerous mistakes (for one, my blog www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com is not a self-hosted blog) and was continually frustrated at how to do even “simple” online tasks, such as uploading a photo. Eventually I got better – and also learned to accept frustration with any new social media tool.

And when I got better, I formed a company with my younger daughter Yael K. Miller to help others not have to reinvent the wheel as I had done.

Back to my social history novel.

A few years later I would become a feminist and would understand even better the restrictions placed on officers’ wives. But I would also understand that these restrictions helped women from all different backgrounds (and, yes, prejudices) come together.

Today, besides being a social media marketer, I do a lot of online activity to support our troops. I even have one website to showcase documentaries and films about our troops in the past and now – http://www.insupportofourtroops.com/

My main online support focus is helping to get out the word about PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (the site above has information on the symptoms).

While there is no draft now, in 1970 there was a draft. The Vietnam War was very unpopular, especially because of the draft.

A couple of years ago a Vietnam War veteran described his feelings to me about his return from Vietnam. “They called me a baby killer,” he said. Then he went on to say that at least today most people in the U.S. support the troops rather than revile them.

And I suspect that many young people today know almost nothing about the Vietnam War period of U.S. history.

Because of this lack of knowledge, the entire novel of “Mrs. Lieutenant” is available online for free. The links to read the novel at BookBuzzr or Authonomy are at http://www.mrslieutenant.com/

At the time in 1970 I was very upset that my life was disrupted while my husband served on active duty. Today, from the vantage point of 2011, I am glad to have had the opportunity to personally experience life in the U.S. military.

Yes, I was also in the U.S. military. As I quote in “Mrs. Lieutenant” from a booklet instructing us what to do:

“It has been said that when a man acquires a commission, the government has gained not one, but two – the officer and his wife.”

Phyllis Zimbler Miller has an M.B.A from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic. Besides being the author of “Mrs. Lieutenant,” she is the co-author of the Jewish holiday book “Seasons for Celebration” and the co-author of “Four Comedy Screenplays.” Her Amazon author page is at http://budurl.com/PZMAmazonpage, and a recent article was published regarding getting a job afer military life which readers may find useful as well.

April 18, 2011

{Giveaway!} Daughters of Rome - prequel to Kate Quinn's unforgettable debut, a Guest Post

Please welcome Kate Quinn to Historical Fiction Connection, and see below to enter for your chance to win a copy of her newest release, Daughters of Rome.

Sex and the City (of Rome)
By Kate Quinn, author of Daughters of Rome

I'll admit to a certain guilty pleasure of mine right off the bat: Sex and the City. Oh, I mocked it, but I still swooned over the clothes, the humor, the girltalk. And I've had a chance to catch up on SATC now that my second historical fiction novel Daughters of Rome is released. Which is why I've started to think of Daughters of Rome, set during the Year of Four Emperors, as “Sex and the City of Rome.” I have to admit, it didn't strike me at the time when I was writing it, but there are certain similarities . . .

The Setup

“Sex and the City” gives us four girls sticking together through love affairs, marriages, heartache, and brunch. Daughters of Rome gives us four girls sticking together through love affairs, marriages, heartache, and civil war. (Not that those SATC brunches didn't have a certain amount of civil war lobbied over the Bloody Marys from time to time.)

The Heroine

SATC had Carrie Bradshaw to narrate the chaos, a writer with a nice line in cynical voiceovers and an enormous appetite for stilettos (the higher the better). For DoR there is Marcella, a historian with a nice line in cynical one-liners and an enormous appetite for politics (the bloodier the better).

The Heroine's Posse

Carrie's three best gal-pals include a very proper brunette, a very sexy blond, and a very tomboyish redhead. Marcella has an older sister and two cousins: a very proper brunette, a very sexy redhead, and a very tomboyish blonde.

The Style

SATC popularized “Carrie” necklaces, Prada gowns, and Manolo Blahnik stilettos. DoR might end up popularizing ruby necklaces, goddess gowns, and gladiator sandals. (For women who are not a size zero! Roman fashion went for a curvier, softer silhouette, which frankly the skinny gals of SATC could have used. I adore Sarah Jessica Parker, but the woman needs a few cheeseburgers.)

The Romantic Escapades

Carrie and the girls managed, over many seasons and two movies, to rack up four marriages, one divorce, three children, and countless lovers. I'm sorry, but Marcella and her posse have them beat with eleven marriages, six divorces, eight children, and countless lovers. Those racy Romans . . .

The Men

SATC had one cute guy after another: suave Mr. Big, nice-guy Steve, sweetheart Harry, sexy Smith . . . to name but a few. DoR offers one Emperor after another: cranky Emperor Galba, metrosexual Emperor Otho, sports-fan Emperor Galba, nice-guy Emperor Vespasian . . . to name but a few.

The Obstacles

Carrie & Co. collectively faced pregnancy, divorce, abortion, adultery, and cancer. Plus trying to afford Louboutins during a recession. Marcella & Co. face pregnancy, divorce, abortion, adultery, and widowhood. Plus trying to stay alive when your political leaders are massacring each other literally on your doorstep every three months or so. Warring emperors aside, I guess the problems women face haven't changed so much over the millennia.

Perhaps that is the real reason Daughters of Rome is reminiscent of “Sex and the City,” all jokes aside. In the end, women face many of the same problems whether they happen to live in modern day New York or first century Rome. A girl who has gone through a divorce feels just as lousy about it whether the process involved a team of expensive lawyers (modern day), or just moving out of the house (ancient Rome). Both Roman women and modern women faced the agonizing choice of “adoption, abortion, or single motherhood?” when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. A passionate affair with the wrong man is just as confusing and heartbreaking whether the man in question is a married stockbroker with commitment issues, or (gasp) a slave.

What I'd love to see is Carrie and her friends meet up for brunch with Marcella and hers. Let's assume the English-to-Latin translation is seamless, and plenty of drinks are provided. After a certain awkward period where the Roman girls splutter over their very first taste of a Cosmopolitan, and the modern girls are introduced to Roman wine so strong it can be lit on fire with a match, I see this discussion going well. Marcella would be fascinated by Carrie's columnist gig - “Women get paid for writing here? I'm never going back!” Charlotte and her Roman counterpart Cornelia would bond instantly over the years they both spent yearning for babies; Charlotte pats Cornelia's hand a lot and assures her that it will happen someday, just you wait. Miranda and her tomboy equivalent Diana will both be talking at once, Miranda trying to explain baseball and Diana trying to explain chariot racing. And Roman party girl Lollia will be swapping hair-raising sex stories with Samantha: “A pearl thong? That's nothing; I wore sapphire nipple caps once. Never again, you wouldn't believe the chafing. Now tell me more about these things called vibrators . . .”

“Sex and the City of Rome” - now that would be a show worth seeing. HBO, if you're out there, Daughters of Rome has not yet been optioned for film . . .

Thanks for having me to the Historical Fiction Connection! It’s been a pleasure.

Daughters of Rome, April 5, 2011
A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress. 

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. A lifelong history buff, she first got hooked on ancient Rome while watching I, Claudius at the age of seven. Still in elementary school when she saw the movie Spartacus, she resolved to someday write a book about a gladiator. That ambition turned into Mistress of Rome, written when she was a freshman in college.

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April 11, 2011

{Giveaway!} Guest Post by Amanda Grange, Regency Author Extraordinaire!

Read to the very end to learn how to enter for the book giveaway for two lucky readers!

Bio: Amanda Grange is a popular author of historical fiction specializing in creative interpretations of classic novels and historic events, including Jane Austen’s novels and the Titanic shipwreck. Her novels include Mr. Darcy’s Diary, Mr. Knightley’s Diary, Captain Wentworth’s Diary, and Darcy, Vampyre. In her latest novel, Wickham’s Diary, Amanda tells the tale of Wickham, before Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and how he became the man he is and maybe, if he could change.

A novella!

After reading and loving A Darcy Christmas last year, in which Amanda Grange contributed a Chrismas novella, I knew I had to read her newest novella out this spring, Wickham's Diary. I really enjoyed this fun book, and you can read my review at The Burton Book Review.

Every once in awhile an author gets a guest post topic requested by the blog host.. and this time we asked Amanda Grange (Austen Sequel Author Extraordinaire!!) about how she would go about convincing die-hard Austen fans of the merits of Austen sequels.

Please welcome Amanda Grange with her thoughts:

Hi, and thanks for inviting me along today to talk about convincing die-hard Austen fans of the merits of Austen sequels. Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of die-hard fans don’t need convincing. They love Austen’s novels, they love her characters and her plots and they’re eager for more. They know I’m not Jane Austen, but they appreciate the trouble I take to make sure my Austen diaries are accurate and take into account everything Jane Austen said about her characters. Of course, my books also go into the realms of interpretation, but (with the exception of Mr Darcy, Vampyre) I go to great lengths to make sure they capture the spirit and the letter of the originals.

If readers still aren’t sure, I tell them about the way in which the diaries fill in the scenes we hear about in the originals but never see. In Mr Darcy’s Diary, we see Darcy going to Ramsgate and finding that Georgiana is about to elope; we see him follow Wickham and Lydia to London and arrange their marriage; and we see events after Darcy and Lizzy’s marriage, when they settle down at Pemberley.

With some of the books, I write the back stories of the characters as well, and this gives fans a view of things they have never seen before, things which are only glimpsed in the originals. This means they get to read something new, which at the same time feels familiar because they know that Austen provided the template for it. For example, in Captain Wentworth’s Diary I spent almost the first half of the book writing about Anne and Wentworth’s initial courtship, which took place before the start of Persuasion. Everything in Captain Wentworth’s Diary fits in with what Austen told us about Anne and Wentworth’s past, but it’s turned into a large section of the book, instead of the few paragraphs we have in Persuasion. I did the same thing with Colonel Brandon’s Diary and I particularly loved doing this because he has such an amazing back-story, full of heartbreak and tragedy. By the time I’d written it I was in floods of tears, and by the time I finished the whole book I really felt he deserved his happy ending!

Wickham’s Diary is a little different to my other books. It’s not a full length novel like my other diaries, it’s a novella, and it’s a prequel to Pride and Prejudice. It starts when Wickham is twelve and ends with his attempted elopement with Georgiana. I wanted to write the novella because I was intrigued by the fact that Wickham and Darcy started life as boyhood friends but later became implacable enemies. It gave me a chance to write about Wickham as a boy and a young man, and to see Darcy at those times of his life as well. So Wickham’s Diary gives die-hard fans a chance to revisit some of their favourite characters in new situations, which at the same time ties in with everything Austen told us about the characters.

A bit more of Amanda's work:
Darcy's Diary / Mr Darcy's Diary
Mr Knightley's Diary
Captain Wentworth's Diary - Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review

Edmund Bertram's Diary
Colonel Brandon's Diary
Henry Tilney's Diary
Wickham's Diary - a novella
Mr Darcy, Vampyre - nominated for the Jane Austen Awards..

and now for the Grand Finale!!! Sourcebooks is graciously offering two lucky followers of HF-Connection a free copy of Amanda Grange's newest release, Wickham's Diary! This is open for US & Canada followers.

To enter:
1. Be a follower of this blog, and leave your email address in the comment.

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Giveaway is Closed! The winner will be contacted via email shortly!

April 05, 2011

Finding Emilie by Laurel Corona

Please welcome author Laurel Corona, announcing the impending arrival of Finding Emilie.

My third novel, FINDING EMILIE, is coming out one week from today, and I am so excited! The people who have seen advance copies have loved it, and the reviews have been great so far.

It’s based on the real-life story of Emilie du Chatelet, a French Enlightenment mathematician and physicist who lived in the decades just before the French Revolution. One of the great contributors to understanding of Newtonian physics, she published little in her lifetime because she was a woman. Today, those who have heard her name usually know only that she was Voltaire’s lover. They lived together for fifteen years at her absent husband’s remote ancestral estate close to the border with the semi-independent Duchy of Lorraine (Emilie’s husband didn’t mind, because Voltaire was renovating the chateau with his own money--such were the times!) Though far from the excitement of Paris, Voltaire could quickly get out of France if his writing got him in trouble with the censors.

Emilie was a bit of a wild one, whose three great loves were “study, gambling, and greed,” but her fourth proclivity, tempestuous love affairs with whomever pleased her, caused her to become pregnant at the unheard of age of forty-three. She paused from her great translation and commentary on Newton’s Principia Mathematica long enough to deliver a daughter, but six days later, within hours of putting the sealing wax on her greatest work and sending it off to the French Academy of Science, she complained of a headache and within hours she was dead.

FINDING EMILIE is the story of that daughter, Lili, whose own independent streak both confuses and exhilarates her. Kept from knowing most of the details of her mother’s scandalous life, as her own future closes in around her--a loveless, aristocratic marriage and the abandonment of her own identity and life goals--Lili sets out to “find” Emilie, discovering a story that is far beyond what she (or the reader) imagines. And it’s all true!

I hope you enjoy “finding” Emilie du Chatelet as much as I did. If you are a library book reader, I hope you will ask your library to put FINDING EMILIE in its collection. If you are an e-book reader, it’s available in all the major formats. And if you like holding your own copy in your hands, right now Amazon is offering it for only $8.56 (close to half off). That price is unlikely to continue after the pub date. I’ve been told it will be on front tables or racks at Barnes and Noble for a couple of weeks, so you can find it easily there, or my favorite option, patronize your local, struggling, independent bookstore.

Thanks again for all your support. I’ll try to keep writing interesting books for you!
Thanks to Laurel for allowing us to post this.. she will also be back later this month with an article.
 Her books can be found at online retailers at the following links:
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository

April 04, 2011

Pitching Book Bloggers: Guest Post by Diane Saarinen

As a book blogger at The Burton Review for over two years, I've come across all kinds of pitches from authors and publicists. Some are welcomed, some are not geared towards my tastes. My blog is specifically tailored to certain genres, and when I get pitches for books that are not in my realm, I ignore them. Some authors just don't know how to look for our review policies. But some authors are pushy, self-righteous and quite frankly, rude in their own efforts to promote. Last month, I had the opportunity to participate (and vent!) in a survey for the Saima Agency who then compiled some key facts that are available in ebook format. Click here to view more details. Diane Saarinen of the Saima Agency wanted to share a few thoughts about what she found out from that survey, and she also welcomes any comments for discussion from bloggers and authors!

by Diane Saarinen

How can there be a whole back story for a little tiny ebook like the one our agency put out, Best Practices: Pitching Book Bloggers? That’s a fair question. But I’m here to tell you there is one and I hope to entertain you in the next few paragraphs.

I have been a blog tour coordinator for the past three years. Which means I work as a liaison between authors and bloggers so when a new book release comes out, it can receive maximum exposure in the blogosphere. My communications are as much with bloggers as they are with authors. And over the years, I feel I’ve gotten to know bloggers quite well. I keep up with what bloggers are reading, how their kids are doing, how their pets are faring. I genuinely love this interaction! I also can place myself, at times, in the shoes of bloggers as I volunteered a few years back for the excellent online publication Her Circle Ezine as Blog Producer. In this capacity, I would endeavor to match topics to bloggers, schedule these posts, and – in a pinch – roll up my sleeves and even write a few blog posts myself. And as a writer myself, I’ve been published not only in Her Circle Ezine, but Quiet Mountain: New Feminist Essays and Women’s eNews Daily. An essay of mine appears in the anthology, Working Women: Stories of Strife, Struggle and Survival (SAGE, 2009).

Is this guest post turning into a feminist treatise? Maybe. I will say this: I don’t know the statistics but it appears to me that most book bloggers are women. And anecdotally at least, women seem more predisposed for relationship-building; for giving freely of their time; and in general doing all these great things that we associate with the book bloggers.

But, let’s remember something. Book bloggers for the most part are not monetizing their blog. They are not getting paid. Reading – and reviewing books – is a hobby they are passionate about. Through the grapevine (i.e., Twitter) I began to hear more and more about bloggers grumbling about well-meaning publicists, even authors, taking advantage of their kind natures. By this I mean: sending unsolicited books. Or allowing insufficient lead time with review requests. What about requesting bloggers’ stats? To me, that’s just rude!

Well, now it’s clear I’ve gone off on a tangent. What does this all have to do with the e-product, Best Practices: Pitching Book Bloggers? In March 2011, our agency set up a survey that 30 book bloggers answered quite frankly about what constituted a good pitch and a bad pitch. The answers, to me, were amazing. One of the best summed-up examples of a pet peeve I read in the study was: “I know you say you don’t review self-published books, non-fiction, or Christian books, but I have a great Christian self-help book that I’ve published myself!” Publicists and authors, we can do better than this.

BIO: Diane Saarinen can be found at the Saima Agency which specializes in author services such as book blog tours, virtual assistance, copywriting and book trailers. Their ebook, BEST PRACTICES: PITCHING BOOK BLOGGERS is available here. Please note the e-guide is free to all bloggers. Just email info [at] saimaagency [dot] com with your blog URL for a complimentary copy.