Join me for reviews, quirky interviews, guest posts, and giveaways at the following blogs:
Monday, September 11
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, September 12
Feature at The Hungry Bookworm
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Wednesday, September 13
Review at Book Drunkard
Thursday, September 14
Feature at The Reading Queen
Friday, September 15
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All
Monday, September 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Tuesday, September 19
Review at The Muse in the Fog Reviews
Wednesday, September 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Muse in the Fog Reviews
Thursday, September 21
Feature at A Holland Reads
Friday, September 22
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, September 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books
Tuesday, September 26
Feature at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, September 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review & Giveaway at What Cathy Read Next
Friday, September 29
Review at Bookramblings
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Monday, October 2
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Tuesday, October 3
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 4
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, October 5
Review at A Bookish Affair
Smashwords.com is holding its annual “Summer/Winter Sale”–a kind of “Christmas in July” event. Tons of authors participate each year by heavily discounting their ebooks (available in all formats). As usual, I’m offering all my shorter books for free–including my new illustrated middle-grade chapter book–and my novels for $1 or $2. Hours of great reading for less than a cup of coffee (actually all three novels for less than a Starbucks’ coffee)! If you haven’t checked out my writing, here’s your chance to do it for loose couch change. If you don’t like my stuff, I’m sure you’ll find something among the thousands of deals being offered–but only until July 31!
Here are the links to my books. All my books are available in all the usual places in paperback and ebooks. The three short story collections are also out as audio books. Read. Enjoy. Support your favorite authors with reviews. Thanks to all the dedicated readers out there!
Yesterday was my birthday and I learned something new. I usually love learning something new. Yesterday’s lesson—not so much. Have you heard of 4DX? Neither had I. Until yesterday.
But let me set this up. I have a few modest birthday traditions. I try not to work on my birthday. I like to dress up, get my hair done or try new makeup, and go out to a movie or Broadway show. I always enjoy a lovely dinner at a fancy restaurant. Since I left the corporate treadmill to write novels, it’s even more fun to skip the ponytail and sweatpants, dress up a little and get out in the world.
I’ve also noticed that Monday birthdays are usually disastrous. I hate Monday birthdays. My thirtieth was a Monday and everything went wrong. I ended up passed out on the bed wearing tights, a hat and a tie and no memory of how I got there. 2016 is a leap year and my birthday should have been on a Monday, but skipped to Tuesday. I thought I was safe. Continue reading
It’s a sunny day in Pompeii on April 8th in this first year of the reign of Imperator Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (AD 79). The crowds surge toward the amphitheater for the games given by D. Lucretius Stater Valens, a lifelong priest to the cult of the deified Nero Caesar Augustus. The placards pasted on the walls in the forum promise, “ten pairs of gladiators owned by his son D. Lucretius Valens and wild animal hunts, as permitted by law. The seats will be shaded with awnings.” Pompeii’s is the oldest stone amphitheater in the empire. For one hundred-fifty years it has proudly hosted games and religious festivals, but it’s looking dated next to the modern Flavian Amphitheater which will open next year in Rome. The frescoes of gladiatorial combat and beast hunts decorating the walls surrounding the sand are fading, but the patrons come for the blood sports, not the art.
The spectators pass into the open spaces surrounding the arena where merchants and food vendors hawk their wares. The scent of fresh bread, roasted meats, and sour wine waft through the crowd to mingle with the odor of sweat and hair pomade. People look at their wooden tickets and enter the appropriate gate to spread throughout the amphitheater: the front rows reserved for the leading citizens; the middle for the lesser knights and merchants; and the top for the poor, slaves, and women. Some resent the class divisions at the arena. At the chariot races in the hippodrome, it’s open seating (except for the emperor, of course!) and women mix with the men. Continue reading
Before I researched my newest novel, Sword of the Gladiatrix, I got most of my ideas and impressions of gladiators from the media: Russel Crowe in Gladiator and (for those of us of a certain age) Kirk Douglas in Spartacus. More recently Starz had a fantastic (in more ways than one) show that ran for three seasons titled Spartacus: War of the Damned. All of these shows perpetuate some myths that I hope to bust wide open in this post. They also got a couple of things right, which I’ll point out.
Myth #1: All gladiators were men.
Bronze statue of a gladiatrix
Most were, but not all. Here I’ll give Gladiator a weak thumbs up—they had women in chariots fighting against a group of men in a re-enactment of a classic battle in an arena scene, but other than that, women gladiators don’t show up in most visual media. It’s left to us lowly writers to correct the balance. If you look closely, women in the arena show up in art, literature, and law. Sword of the Gladiatrix was inspired by a particular stone carving of two female gladiators in the British Museum. More recently, archaeologists have uncovered a bronze statue of a gladiatrix holding a sica—a curved sword. Tacitus, Suetonius, Dio, Martial, and Juvenal all write about female gladiators—usually (except for Martial) with some element of dismay or sarcasm. An organizer in Ostia brags on his tombstone that he was the first person to put women in the arena as fighters. My favorite evidence is in the law: The first Roman Emperor Augustus forbade recruiting noble and free women as gladiators. Nearly two hundred years later, Emperor Septimus Severus banned single combat by women in the arena. If women weren’t being recruited and fighting, why have a ban? Human nature being what it is, these prohibitions probably made the fights all the more popular because they were illegal. I’m sure female gladiatorial contests continued for some time. Continue reading
Yes, really! Whenever I pitched Sword of the Gladiatrix as my “lesbian gladiator novel,” I encountered raised eyebrows and skeptical snorts. The first question everyone asked: “Were there really lesbian gladiators?” My answer: “Of course!” We know there were female gladiators fighting in arenas for several centuries. Some had to be lesbian.
What really surprised people was the fact of female gladiators. They rarely appear in popular culture. Despite the popularity of Xena Warrior Princess and the myths of the Amazons, female gladiators don’t come to mind in the media-soaked imaginings of brutal, bloody, gladiatorial games. Women warriors? Maybe. Women gladiators? No. Yet they are there in grave markers, classical literature, laws, and art. All you have to do is look. Continue reading
Join me for reviews, interesting guest posts, and quirky interviews at the following blogs (and there are giveaways!):
June 26-28 Historical Novel Society convention at Denver. See you there!
Hot off the presses, I’m announcing a giveaway of my newest book, Sword of the Gladiatrix. The rules are simple: leave a comment below saying you’d like to be entered. No need to put your email address in the comment, it will be attached to your post in admin. If you’d like more than one chance, Tweet, share on Facebook, and/or post on your own blog and let me know in the comments. One additional entry for each share. The giveaway is open through midnight June 12, world wide. If the winner is in the US, you have a choice of print or ebook. If the winner is outside the US, you have the choice of ebook format. I’ll use Raffle King to randomly pick the winner.
I’m excited about this one. I put out a couple of collections of short stories and a non-fiction book, but this is my first full-length novel since Selene of Alexandria. Good luck everyone! Details on the book below:
Sword of the Gladiatrix
Two women. Two swords. One victor.
An action-packed tale that exposes the brutal underside of Imperial Rome, Sword of the Gladiatrix brings to life unforgettable characters and exotic settings. From the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero’s Rome: Afra, scout and beast master to the Queen of Kush; and Cinnia, warrior-bard and companion to Queen Boudica of the British Iceni. Enslaved, forced to fight for their lives and the Romans’ pleasure; they seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other’s arms. But the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.
Author: Faith L. Justice
Length: 260 pp
Price: $11.99 (Print-discounts vary) $3.99 (ebook)
Amazon.com Worldwide (US, UK, Canada)
CreateSpace (print only)
iBooks (ebook only)
Kobo (ebook only)
Smashwords (ebooks–all formats)
We authors—especially of historical fiction—cannot get along without our research books. (We also like to visit the places we write about, explore museum exhibits, and participate in archaeology and reenactments, but this post will talk about research of the armchair variety.) We prefer primary sources: journals, diaries, letters, histories, account lists, and literature written in the period, describing the people and events we want to write about; but that’s not always possible. For cultures that didn’t have a written language (the Iron Age Celts), or it was indecipherable (Egyptian hieroglyphs until the discovery of the Rosetta stone), or it was destroyed (Mayan books burned by conquering Spaniards); we have to rely on secondary sources. Books, essays, and articles by academics and other professionals in their fields are the best we can do for written research in such cases. But we have to be careful even with those. Just as in evaluating primary sources we have to keep in mind the biases and knowledge of the writer, we have to do the same with secondary sources. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of dreck out there—particularly on the internet—and historical fiction authors usually like to get as close to the truth as possible.
In researching Sword of the Gladiatix (soon to be available), I collected several books, articles, and pamphlets on Boudica and Roman Britain, most of an academic nature, a few of the more “popular” variety. The two biographies of Boudica I review below are the best by far of both types. You can read either or both and get a well-researched, readable history of the Iceni Queen, her times, and her legacy in popular culture. Which to read depends on your needs and nature. Continue reading
Image of Boudica in stained glass in Colchester Town Hall.
It’s Women’s History Month and I’ve exhausted my favorite topic of Hypatia, Lady Philosopher of Alexandria. Time to move on to another fascinating woman who has been extensively mythologized: Boudica, Queen of the Iceni (a British Celtic tribe) in the first century AD. For those of you unfamiliar with her story, here is a brief summary.
Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 BC and again in 56 where he had some military success against local tribes. He withdrew to Gaul and never returned to Britain. Roman influence in Britain grew over the next 80 years due to increased trade. The British tribes quarreled and Caratacus, the leader of the Catuvellauni expanded his tribe’s territory at the expense of the Atrebates. The Atrebates chief Verica appealed to Rome and gave the Emperor Claudius an excuse to invade Britain in AD 43. General Plautius led the assault and Claudius joined him with reinforcements. They took Caratacus’ stronghold Camulodunum (modern Colchester) and established the first Roman colonia—towns founded for Roman citizens—on British soil. Eleven tribal kings surrendered. Claudius declared Britain a Roman province.
Caractacus continued to fight, leading the western tribes in Wales in guerrilla actions against Plautius’ successor Scapula, known for his brutal pacification campaign in the south. Scapula finally defeated Caractacus in 51. Caractacus fled a to the Brigantes tribe (in modern-day Yorkshire) but was betrayed by their Queen Cartimandua and handed over to the Romans. In 59 and 60, the Roman governor Caius Suetonius Paulinus (during Nero’s reign) led the successful invasion and pacification of Wales and the Isle of Anglesey, the seat of the Druids. Continue reading