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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.

Whew.

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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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Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews reviews Knife of Narcissus 1-2

I’m thrilled to announce an upcoming review, guest post, and GIVEAWAY on the Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews site on August 21! With each installment of the serial, I’ve been invited to talk about writing the story and to share some of the weirder facts about ancient life that I’ve discovered along the way—and also of course there will be giveaways of each book. Please join me there!

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