Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Knife of Narcissus 7 coverWhew! Made it to the end!

If you haven’t read the series yet, there’s a chance to win all 7 parts, plus the Saturnalia novella, on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. This installment’s guest post is about the Roman holiday of Saturnalia: the festival of, well, carousing.

I may have caroused a little bit too hard today in celebration; tomorrow I’ll be recovering; and then Wednesday…back to writing!

Read an excerpt from Book 7 . . .


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It’s about two days to the release of the seventh and final part of The Knife of Narcissus on Monday, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the readers and reviewers who have been following the saga feel about the whole thing—both about the resolution for our heroes, and about the experience of reading the story in installments. Boy Meets Boy Reviews has some thoughts already.

One thing a reader might wonder about here at the end of Lucius and Trio’s tale is: why send a story out into the world as a serial, if the entire thing will be available eventually in one volume? I go back to my thoughts about serials in the guest post on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews way back in August when this all began:

Some tales can be limericks. Some can be the epic of Gilgamesh. Ebooks also make it easy to send installments to readers—no more hanging around on the docks waiting to grab the latest chapter of David Copperfield. Which is great for the way I write. When I saw other romance writers using the serial format, it was as if someone had unlocked a door and said it’s all right to step through too.

At a workshop an awfully long time ago, the main critique for the story I brought was that, instead of following a traditional three-act structure, readers counted four, five, six, seven acts…and the story wasn’t even finished. It wanted to be nine acts. Maybe eleven. It wasn’t sure. I stuck it in a trunk and shut the lid so I wouldn’t have to hear it complain anymore. It took years of struggling against my instincts to realise that what I was writing were episodes in a story of many parts that didn’t easily fit the classic structure….

In all, it’s been an interesting experience to publish a serial, and I’ll have much more to say about it after I’ve had a chance to absorb and reflect. The novel I’m working on now won’t, I suspect, be published in parts. It’s more compact, a more tidy narrative. It is, however, also set in ancient Rome, because I cannot get enough of the place. And there’s more to tell about Lucius’s world.

Did I say above that this the end of Lucius and Trio’s story? I misspoke.

Alas, there will be no gladiators.

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The penultimate episode is on sale today at all the usual places!

3 Chicks After Dark has the first review up, I think. I haven’t read it yet!

I was hoping to have a guest post over on at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews today, but personal matters got in the way of it, drat. There’s still a giveaway, though!

Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews - KoN 6

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There’s still a day (and 6 hours) left to enter the giveaway raffle over at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews!


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It’s release day for The Knife of Narcissus part 4! We’re past the halfway mark now in Lucius and Trio’s story. At least one big thing will change—but not what Lucius might have wanted….

Reviewers are still on board to follow the serial, I’m happy to say. Check out this brand new review from 3 Chicks After Dark and the review and giveaway from Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews plus a guest post: What does a Roman wear under his toga? The answer may surprise you. But probably not.

Boy Meets Boy Reviews weren’t as excited about this chapter in the serial. I think this is my cue to rub my hands together, cackle, and say, “Just wait and see what happens next…”

Later this evening—if the ingredients ever thaw out—I’ll post pics of Casserole à la Apicius.

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KoN4coverThe Knife of Narcissus part 4 releases on Monday, and will be available at all the usual places. I’ll be celebrating by making another ancient dish, my favourite Roman main course, Casserole à la Apicius. It goes well with the Apricot Stew side dish. I’m hoping it will also go well with Dogfish Head Brewery’s Ancient Ales. Here’s the recipe in 140:

The sauce: crush celery seed, oregano, mint, ginger, coriander, raisins, honey, vinegar, oil, wine. And…this one is going to take 280.

The rest: In a clay baking dish put down layers of bread, cooked chicken breasts, pine nuts, diced onion, sharp cheese, sauce. Cover & bake.

On Monday evening, I’ll post the expanded version of how the recipe turns out this time around, with pics.

Meanwhile, The Novel Approach has given Parts 1-2 an in-depth—and flattering—review:

“A wonderfully written historical gay romance, the first two books hitting the ground running as they introduce us to a world that’s both colorful and sensual in more ways than one….”

Please click on over and visit the site to see the whole review, and, of course, check out the other reviews to find other interesting books.

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Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews reviews Book IIIKeep an eye out for a guest post and GIVEAWAY on the Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews site, appearing on September 8th! This guest post will be all about food…and how to make cookies real-old-school style. Weird but delish.

My writing challenge for the week after the book release: I’ll share some other tried-and-true (and untried-and-crazy) Roman recipes every day in 140 characters or less @carolynechand. When there’s time, I’ll actually make the recipe so I can post pics. No promises that I can get my hands on a dormouse, or that, if I do, the dormouse will be on board with being put in a stew pot.

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It’s one of those clichés, a line (or variant thereof) that appears again and again. It turns up in every genre, and Romance is no exception. In a recent DearAuthor “First Page” post, where authors anonymously send the first page of a novel to be read and critiqued by the community (and where the first page of The Knife of Narcissus made a debut with an embarrassing global-cut-n-paste error, don’twannatalkaboutit), commenter Ainslie Paton remarked, “that likely started life as a powerful depiction, unfortunately it’s so overused it’s lost its street cred.” I have to agree.

I scoured Knife of Narcissus searching for it to stamp it out, during which I discovered there’s an awful lot of breathing in this book; a lesser but still extravagant amount of exhaling; and an importunate amount of inhaling. Inevitable, maybe, when characters are sidling up close and sniffing—I mean—getting to know one another, and then getting into strenuous activities together. But I’ve put that on my list of overused quirks to keep in mind as I write, along with an excess of “just,” “very,” a few I won’t mention in case no one’s picked up on them, and certain body-part euphemisms.

I decided not to remove the held-breaths completely. Or, rather, to stick with the variants, where our hero at least knows that he’s holding his breath.

It’s such an accurate way of describing the literal…

His body tensed so tightly that even his breath stopped. He froze like a cornered animal….He could feel every thread in the weave of the bedding. He wondered if he truly could do this.

Shouldn’t a real Roman man dare anything, and everything? he asked himself.

He forced himself to breathe, and suddenly he was breathing too fast.

…but it’s also spot on for describing figurative mental clenching, a background tension that’s only noticed when it’s finally relieved. Such as—here in the off-the-page world—an author hoping for and then getting a review. I had a suddenly-my-brain-is-breathing-again moment today when I read a new review of Knife of Narcissus parts 1-2 this morning.

I’ll let you click on over to Cryselle’s Bookshelf and read it for yourself.


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small cover 3 iconIt’s Labor Day in the US and also 7 days to the release of The Knife of Narcissus Book 3. There will be at least a couple of reviews on release day from some of my favourite bloggers, including 3 Chicks After Dark, and a guest post on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews about Roman cookery. So pull up a plate for a helping of jellied turtle eggs, fermented fish sauce, and asafoetida (aka “devil’s dung”)…plus a recipe for grape-sweetened cookies 🙂

I’ve given myself a writing challenge for the week after the book release: I’ll share some of my other favourite Roman recipes every day in 140 characters or less @carolynechand. I have no idea if I can do this. Let’s find out!

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Have a looksee!

Mark Wills at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews was kind enough to invite me to write a guest post to go along with his review and the giveaway for Parts 1-2. For this installment, I talk about why I wrote the story as a serial.

Over the next couple of months I’ll get to guest-post about other topics too–because haven’t you always wanted to know what’s under a toga and how to bake ancient Roman cookies? (They’re very tasty…the cookies, I mean, of course…)

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