Tuesday, February 10, 2015

OLEANNA and THE PILGRIM GLASS free downloads

OLEANNA and THE PILGRIM GLASS are now part of the Kindle MatchBook program—if you purchased the paperback edition of either book through Amazon, you can download the Kindle version for FREE.

OLEANNA is also now a part of the KDP Select program; if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow the book for free. However, this means that the book is no longer available on the Barnes & Noble or iBookstore sites. If you need a version of OLEANNA for your Nook or iPad, please message me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Women's Suffrage & National Independence in Norway

I'm so pleased to contribute my article on Norwegian suffragettes to the Celebrating Women series hosted by Oh, For the Hook of a Book! Women's suffrage in Norway is deeply entwined with its independence movement, which came to a head in 1905, thanks in many respects to the suffrage movement. Come on over to learn more about these pioneering women!

It's a great series, by the way. There have already been fascinating articles on Queen Bertrada and Hatshepsut, and more to come on topics as diverse as Hildegard of Bingen, Trojan women, the history of Wonder Woman, and the history of women's mystery writers. Lots of great stuff—click the image below for a full schedule.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Celebrating Women Article Series March 19-31

Erin at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! is celebrating Women's History Month with a series of articles by authors from across many genres, including Stephanie Thornton, Stephanie Dray, Judith Starkson, Heather Webb, and more!

Check out the schedule here for more details, and I'll see you on March 20 with my article on Norwegian Suffragettes!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Interview on the Writing Process with The Review

I chatted with Stephanie Hopkins at The Review Group about the writing process behind Oleanna, among other things. Check it out!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Oleanna Book Giveaway!

To celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the publication of Oleanna, I'm giving away TEN copies. 

From today through January 23, enter to win over at Goodreads; giveaway is open to U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia readers only.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Oleanna by Julie K. Rose


by Julie K. Rose

Giveaway ends January 23, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Malicious trolls, Norse gods, strong beer, and hangovers: Juletid in 19c. Norway

In honor of the season, here's a reprise of last year's Christmas blog! Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Ghost stories and animal sacrifice. Getting completely hammered and sleeping with your farm hands (on the floor). Malicious trolls and toasts to Frey, Odin, and Thor. 

Not exactly what you'd associate with Christmas. But in Norway, these are all part of the rich history of the winter celebration, changed since Oleanna's time in 1905—but not that much.

Kathleen Stokker's excellent book Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land is a treasure trove of information on Juletid through history.
The contemporary Norwegian Christmas represents a rich mixture of ancient heritage and modern impulses, merging elements of pre-Christian solstice celebrations, Viking jól, and early Christian practices with more recent folklore. As ancient rituals lost their original function, new customs arose to fit new social realities. Yet a surprising number of today's yuletide practices have their roots in the distant past. (17)
Was it a celebration held for the dead, who were thought to return to their homes during the long, dark nights of the winter solstice? Was it a "festive conclusion to the autumn slaughter and beer brewing"? Or was it "a solstice celebration like those found in many cultures around the world"?

As with many things, the turn of the century in Norway was a time of transition for Christmas celebrations as well.
Christmas Trees

The Christmas tree was an import from Germany, by way of Denmark, in the early 19th century. Many rural Norwegians resisted the tree, considering it pagan (while probably also believing in nisser and huldrefolk), but the upper and middle classes took to it quite early.

The tradition of the Christmas tree spread to the isolated peasant communities of Western Norway later, likely in Oleanna's parents' generation. The tradition was not commonly found in all parts of Norway until after the turn of the century, and then became the focus of festivities (including the tradition of holding hands and circling around the tree, singing carols on Christmas Eve).

But before the tradition of home trees became widespread, schools held juletrefester (Christmas tree parties), where children received gifts and sang carols. I expect during the short time John, Elisabeth, and Oleanna went to school, they may have participated; their uncle in town in Bergen likely adopted a home tree quite early.

The tree, at home or at school, was a kind of gift tree, adorned with gingerbread figures, apples, and oranges, and "also featured Christmas baskets (julekurv) shaped like cones and hearts to hold hard candies and raisins."

Adding strings of paper Norwegian flags to the tree started in 1905, after the separation from Sweden; I like to think that Oleanna and her family took especial pride in adding their flags to the tree that Christmas.

Christmas Eve
The dark days of winter and the ongoing echoes of the Viking jól made Christmas Eve a time of more apprehension than you might think. 
Beliefs that ghosts and other normally hidden beings returned at Christmas caused many Norwegians to seek comfort in each other's company on Christmas Eve, when they shared a bed of straw on the farmhouse floor. It was these fears that the Christian Christmas sought to soothe and mediate. But even as the real fear subsided, the telling of ghost stories--including the legend of the Midnight Mass of the Dead--remained a favored custom of Christmas... (15) 
The most famous hidden being associated with Christmas is the nisse (plural nisser). "According to long-standing popular belief, a farm's prosperity derived from this elf's hard work. To ensure continuation of good fortune, the farmer had to reward the nisse appropriately at Christmastime by providing him with a generous portion of porridge..." If Oleanna or one of her siblings didn't leave out the porridge, they might be doomed to trouble on the farm in the coming year--so it was always best to share your special Christmas porridge with the nisser, just in case.

With the long, dark night and the feelings of apprehension, fellowship was important. Christmas Eve often featured "flickering candlelight, a comforting cleanliness, and much finer, more abundant food than the family had eaten since the last Christmas." (85)

They would probably eat ribbe (spareribs) or pinnekjøtt (lamb ribs) and perhaps sing carols, newly revised older songs or those new-made in the mid-1800s, including Jeg er sa glad hver julekveld (I am so glad each Christmas Eve). 

Unsurprisingly, as with many Norwegian holidays (including Constitution Day), strongly brewed celebration beer was traditional. In fact, as far back as the Viking days, it was required. The Law of Gulating (devised at the assembly at Gula), called the Gulatingslov,
...required that beer be brewed by each peasant and drunk on Christmas night in honor of Christ and the Virgin Mary while uttering the toast "Til árs ok friðar" (for good harvest and fertility and peace). The formulation "til árs ok friðar" is so intricately bound up with the Old Norse way of thinking that scholars theorize that the Viking jól featured similar toasts to the gods Frey, Odin, and Thor--toasts that the identical, attested ones to Christ and Mary merely replaced. (8)
Nothing like strongly brewed beer to make you forget about ghosts and evil spirits and the deep, cold snow and the long, cold night.

Christmas Day
So, you've got a rockin' hangover. What sounds awesome? Rowing (or walking) to church! Norway in 1905 was a Lutheran country (with pagan underpinnings) and church on Christmas was universal.

But given the unique geography of Norway, and the fact that, just after the Reformation, there were not enough Lutheran ministers to go around, it would be impossible to reach all congregations on December 25. With the "deeply ingrained Norwegian sense of equality", the people demanded "institution of a no less sacred Second Christmas Day (annen juledag). While the necessity that mothered this invention disappeared long ago, Norwegians continue to observe December 26 as a full holiday." (12-13)

So First Christmas Day was spent at church, and then at home; Second Christmas Day was spent visiting with friends. And what goes better with Church (and visiting with friends), than beer?  
"The only permissible activity away from home on forste juledag was the church service...While the idea of attending church seems tranquil enough in our day, in earlier times the journey seldom proceeded without event. Beer and other strong beverages, available in plentiful supply at Christmas, often came along to ward off both the cold weather outside and the damp chill inside the unheated churches." (90)
I expect that, given all the celebration beer consumed, not much work got done between Christmas Eve and Epiphany, the official end of the Christmas season!

Christmas Today
I think Oleanna and her family would probably recognize Christmas in Norway today. Yes, there are nods to modernity, with lots of presents and lots of electric lights.

But they'd also recognize echoes of the Vikings and the Lutheran experience: Christmas trees with straw julebukk and Norwegian flags. Ribbe or pinnekjøtt on Christmas Eve. Setting out porridge for the nisse (who have been conflated, to an extent, with Santa Claus), and lots of joy throughout the whole Juletid, holding back the darkness with the light of fellowship.

So, here's to fellowship, joy, light, and of course, lots of celebration beer (if you're so inclined) to you and yours this holiday season!

Want to know more about the world of Oleanna? Click here for all of the posts that give context to her world--Norway in 1905.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Supernatural in Norwegian Folklife

It's that time of year! Learn about just a sampling of supernatural creatures from Norwegian folklife, including nøkken, draugen, trolls, and huldrefolk...and what you can do to protect yourself from them!

Nøkken by Theodor Kittelsen, via Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

San José Public Library Author Fair November 2

I'm so excited to be participating in the inaugural San José Public Library Author Fair this Saturday, November 2. If you're in the area, please come on by—a wide range of genres and styles will be represented!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Writing Serendipities and Inside the Writers' Study

Stephanie Renee dos Santos, along with the Historical Novel Society, has hosted a series of writers' stories on serendipity and writing. According to Stephanie,
What I hope people can take away from the series is a better understanding that these serendipitous moments are not isolated incidents amongst historical novelists, that they are quite common. And that the stories demonstrate that we live in an intrinsically connected universe. I believe often writers are given and somehow linked to material to transcribe into books and that certain writers are chosen to tell certain tales.
I was so pleased to contribute a story recently about the many serendipities and synchronicities I experienced with my novel Oleanna.

Donna Russo Morin was kind enough to host me as part of her fantastic Inside the Writers' Study series. Based, according to Donna, "on James Lipton’s questions used on Inside the Actors Studio, based on the Bernard Pivot questions used on Apostrophes, based on the Proust Questionnaire-whew!" The questions were so fun to answer and I'm so grateful to Donna for the opportunity!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

#Histfic Publishing & Reviewing Trends for Feb/May 2013 #HNS2013

As part of the preparation for our HNS2013 panel on Off the Beaten Path books, we wanted to get a really solid grounding and definition—one can have an intuition about what's off the beaten path, but we wanted to have facts.

As a reminder, our definition of mainstream was:
There’s nothing wrong with popularity! But with so many books out there and only so much time and space for promotion, the most popular themes naturally get the most attention, while others remain out of the spotlight.
In this panel we will explore current themes and trends in historical fiction and take a look at some books that veer off these paths. Our goal is to show readers the wide variety of historical fiction available to them, and to show writers that there is an audience for every story. If you’ve ever asked, “Doesn’t anyone write (…)?” this panel is for you.

In this panel, “mainstream” refers to the most well-known settings, eras, characters, and/or styles in current historical fiction.

What our definition of mainstream is NOT:
- A method of publishing
- A list of targeted topics
- Overdone (aka “popular = bad”)
So, what does the HF landscape look like? We did a combined analysis of both the February and May 2013 Historical Novels Review, both print and online (which included Big 5/6 and their imprints, independent presses, small presses, and self-published books).

What we found was interesting but, honestly, not super surprising.

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Lead the Way
  • The 19th and 20th century represent 65% of all books reviewed
  • England and America are neck and neck for most popular location (England most popular in the February HNR, America in May)
  • The Big 5/6 and their imprints comprised 40%+ of all books reviewed
  • In May, 20th century England comprised almost 50% of all Big 5/6 books
Independent, Small Press, and Self-Published Books Fill in the Gaps
  • Self-published books lead the way for settings Ancient to 11th century
  • Small press & independent represent most 12th through 16th
  • "Unusual" locations (e.g., not America, England, Australia, or France) represent only 20% of the books during the period
  • Independent publishers (e.g., large publishers not affiliated with Big 5/6 or imprints) and Self-Pub have the widest variety of location and time period
Continuing Challenges
  • Only two books out of the hundreds reviewed were not heteronormative
  • Protagonists who are persons of color represented only a very small number of books published in the period
Big 5/6 Are Dipping Their Toes
  • While the other publishing types do take the most chances in terms of off the beaten path settings, eras, or protagonists, the Big 5/6 and their imprints definitely go off the beaten path (though it tends to be the exception)

Sarah Johnson also did a fantastic analysis of the February 2013 Historical Novels Review if you're interested in more detail.

Why Go Off the Beaten Path?
It can be intimidating to go outside your comfort zone when reading (or writing)—and mainstream books are popular for a reason (they're interesting and good!).

But sometimes you just want something different. Why read off the beaten path?
  • Intellectual stimulation; boredom with existing trends
  • You're naturally curious
  • Over-saturation with current trends
  • Wanderlust (a particular affliction of mine!)
  • A desire to see fresh life given to old themes and stories
  • A desire to see protagonists that are more relevant to your life experience (LGBTQ for example)
  • For writers, it's a kind of blank slate; readers don't necessarily have pre-conceived notions and aren't armchair experts on your era/location

Finding Off the Beaten Path Books Can Sometimes Be Challenging—But Worth Your While
Because these kinds of books don't necessarily get the attention a mainstream book would, they can be more difficult to find.

Some fantastic resources for finding these kinds of books are:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Highly Recommended #Histfic Off the Beaten Path #HNS2013

This list began as a panel at the 2013 HNS Conference called 'Historical Fiction Off the Beaten Path', presented by Andrea Connell of The Queen's Quill Review, author Heather Domin, Audra Friend of Unabridged Chick, and author Julie K. Rose. We drew up a short list of books published within the last five years that fall outside current publishing trends in one or more of the following ways:
  • lesser-known locations or time periods
  • unusual protagonists or points of view
  • lack of famous historical figures
  • POC (people of color) or LGBTQ protagonists
  • mixing of genres or sub-genres
  • unusual choices in style or structure
To that list we've added all the books suggested by the panel audience, as well as additional books suggested since. (initials are included) This list is by no means exhaustive and will continue to grow, so check back to see what's been added, and send us your suggestions!

We're focusing on books published within the last decade, but older books worth mentioning are fine too.

There have been plenty of great books that fit these guidelines since this list was compiled in June 2013. If you have additions to the list, please comment below!

AC = Andrea Connell
AF = Audra Friend
HD = Heather Domin
JR = Julie Rose
Panel = suggestions provided during the panel
Initial.Lastname = suggestions provided via comment or email

Ancient World

Alcestis (2010) by Katharine Beutner — Greece
[HD, JR]: genre mixing (fantasy), unusual setting, LGBTQ

Part Greek mythology, part women’s fiction, part metaphysical rumination, part literary opus, with a bonus lesbian liaison – this book defies categorization, and the result is a truly unconventional historical novel. - HD  

Augustus (1972) by John Edward Williams — Rome
[panel]: unusual style (epistolary)

Daughter of Kura (2009) by Debra Austin — Paleolithic Africa
[HD]: unusual setting
Set on the plains of Paleolithic Africa, this story of a young woman’s journey from matriarch to outcast paints a fascinating picture of our early human ancestors without the use of fantastical elements. - HD  

Lavinia (2008) by Ursula K. LeGuin — Etruria
[JR]: unusual setting

The Sweet Girl (2012) by Annabel Lyon — Greece
[AF]: unusual setting

The Wedding Shroud (2009) by Elizabeth Storrs — Etruria
[HD]: unusual setting

Thunderbolt: Torn Enemy of Rome (2012) by Roger Kean — Carthage
[HD]: genre mixing (action/romance), unusual setting, LGBTQ

Written in Ashes (2011) by K. Hollan VanZandt — Egypt
[AF]: unusual setting


1st Century

Lily of the Nile (2011) & Song of the Nile (2011) by Stephanie Dray — Rome, Egypt
[AF, JR]: genre mixing (magical realism), unusual setting 

The Soldier of Raetia (2009) by Heather Domin — Rome, Germany
[JR]: genre mixing (adventure/romance), unusual setting, LGBTQ
One of my favorite books. Beautifully written and engrossing. You feel transported in time and place. - JR


2nd Century

Eromenos (2011) by Melanie McDonald — Rome
[AF]: unusual setting, unusual style, LGBTQ


3rd Century

The Siege (2011) & The Imperial Banner (2012) by Nick Brown — Syria
[HD]: unusual setting, unusual protagonist


6th Century

The Dragon's Harp (2012) by Rachael Pruitt — Wales
[JR]: genre mixing (fantasy), unusual setting

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora (2013) by Stephanie Thornton — Constantinople
[AF]: unusual setting

7th Century

The Woman at the Well (2011) & The Sword of God (2012) by Ann Chamberlin — Syria
[JR; Kim Rendfeld]: unusual setting, POC


8th Century

Seidman (2012) by Erich James — Iceland
[HD]: genre mixing (paranormal/romance, YA), unusual setting, LGBTQ

The Cross and the Dragon (2012) by Kim Rendfeld — Francia
[AC, HD]: unusual setting

Under Heaven (2010) by Guy Gavriel Kay — China
[JR]: genre mixing (alternate history), unusual setting


9th Century

The Bone Thief (2012) by V.M. Whitworth — Wessex
[HD]: unusual setting

Pope Joan (1996) by Donna Woolfolk Cross — England, Rome
[T. Pilgrim]: unusual protagonist


11th Century

Illuminations (2012) by Mary Sharratt — Germany
[AF]: unusual setting

Shadow on the Crown (2012) by Patricia Bracewell — England
[JR]: unusual setting

Shieldwall (2011) by Justin Hill — England
[P. Bracewell]: unusual setting

The Forever Queen (2010) & I Am the Chosen King (2011) by Helen Hollick — Anglo-Saxon England
[P. Bracewell]: unusual setting, unusual protagonist


12th Century

Mistress of the Art of Death (2007) by Ariana Franklin — England
[panel]: unusual protagonist


13th Century

A Thing Done (2012) by Tinney Sue Heath — Florence
[JR]: unusual setting, unusual protagonist

Cuzcatlán Where the Southern Sea Beats (1987) by Manlio Argueta — Pre-Columbian South America
[panel]: unusual setting

Something Red (2010) by Douglas Nicholas — England
[HD]: genre mixing (horror), no famous figures

Sultana (2011) & Sultana's Legacy (2012) by Lisa Yarde — Moorish Spain
[HD, JR]: unusual setting, POC protagonists


15th Century

A Prince to be Feared (2012) by Mary Lancaster — Romania
[AF]: unusual setting

I, Iago (2012) by Nicole Galland — Venice
[AF]: unusual setting


16th Century

Equal of the Sun (2012) by Anita Amirrezvani — Persia
[AF]: unusual setting

In the Garden of Iden (1997) by Kage Baker — England
[HF]: genre mixing (light sci-fi)

The Queen's Rivals (2013) by Brandy Purdy — England
[panel]: unusual protagonist

The Raven's Heart (2011) by Jesse Blackadder — England

Tom Fleck (2010) by Harry Nicholson — England
[HD]: unusual protagonist, no famous figures
A delightful, folksy adventure set in rural England and Scotland, this novel uses a likable everyman to tell the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, including a rare look at Jewish life in Tudor England. - HD


17th Century

A House Near Luccoli (2012) by D.M. Denton — Genoa
[K. Rendfeld]: unusual setting, genre mixing (literary)

Peony in Love (2007) by Lisa See — China
[T. Pilgrim]: unusual setting, POC protagonist

The Book of Seven Hands (2013) by Barth Anderson — Spain
[JR]: genre mixing (paranormal), no famous figures, LGBTQ

The Midwife's Tale (2013) by Sam Thomas — England
[AF]: unusual protagonist

The Orphanmaster (2012) by Jean Zimmerman — Amsterdam
[AF]: unusual setting

The Tito Amato series series (2004-2009) by Beverle Graves Myers — Venice
[panel]: unusual setting, unusual protagonist

The Temple Dancer (2006) by John Speed — India
[S. McDuffie]: unusual setting

The Tsar's Dwarf (2006) by Peter H. Fogtal — Russia
[panel]: unusual protagonist

White Heart (2013) by Julie Caton — New France
[panel]: unusual protagonist, no famous figures


18th Century

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985) by Patrick Suskind — France
[panel]: unusual protagonist, genre mixing (horror)

Sea Witch (2006) by Helen Hollick — "Pirate Round" South Africa to the Caribbean
[AC]: unusual setting, genre mixing (fantasy)

Spirit of Lost Angels (2012) by Liza Perat — France
[AC]: unusual setting, LGBTQ
A bittersweet, multilayered tale that will touch your heart, told in a humble yet strong and powerful voice during a time of revolution and female suppression. – AC  

The Blighted Troth (2011) by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer — New France
[AF]: unusual setting, genre mixing (Gothic)

The Mirrored World (2012) by Debra Dean — Russia
[AF]: unusual setting

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones (2013) by Jack Wolf — England
[AF]: unusual setting, genre mixing (horror)

Ti Marie (2007) by Valerie Belgrave — Trinidad
[HD]: unusual setting, POC protagonist


19th Century

Bone River (2012) by Megan Chance — Washington Territory
[panel]: unusual premise, genre mixing (paranormal)

Burning Silk (2010) by Destiny Kinal — France, America
[AC]: unusual setting, unusual protagonist
A sensual and sensitive story written in lush prose. – AC   

Butterfly’s Child (2011) by Angela Davis-Gardner — Japan, Illinois
[AF]: unusual setting

The Crimson Petal and the White (2002) by Michael Faber — England
[panel]: genre mixing (literary, romance)

Daughter of the Sky (2013) by Michelle Diener — South Africa
[AF]: unusual setting

Gillespie and I (2011) by Jane Harris — Scotland
[AF]: unusual protagonist

Gods of Gotham (2012) by Lyndsay Faye — New York City
[AF]: unusual setting

Island of Wings (2011) by Karin Altenberg — St. Kilda islands
[AF]: unusual setting

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004) by Susanna Clarke — England
[panel]: genre mixing (fantasy)

Miss Fuller (2012) by April Bernard — Rome, New York
[AF]: unusual protagonists

Parlor Games (2013) by Maryka Biaggio — Chicago
[AF]: unusual protagonist

Syncopation: A Memoir of Adèle Hugo (2012) by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt — France
[T. Heath]: unusual protagonist, unusual style

Slant of Light (2012) by Steve Weigenstein — Missouri Ozarks
[AF]: unusual setting

The Family Mansion (2013) by Anthony C. Winkler — Jamaica
[AF]: unusual setting

The Ghost Bride (2013) by Yangsze Choo — Malaysia
[JR]: unusual setting, genre mixing, POC main characters

The Golem and the Jinni (2013) by Helene Wecker — New York City
[AF]: genre mixing (mythology), POC main characters

The Luminist (2011) by David Rocklin — Ceylon
[AF]: unusual setting

The Master (2003) by Colm Tóibín — England
[panel] unusual style

The 19th Wife (2008) by David Ebershoff — Utah
[panel]: unusual protagonist, time-slip, genre mixing (literary)

The Personal History of Rachel duPree (2008) by Ann Weisgarber — South Dakota
[AF]: unusual setting, POC main characters

The Oracle of Stamboul (2011) by Michael David Lukas — Turkey/Ottoman Empire
[AF]: unusual setting

The Rose of Sebastopol (2007) by Katharine McMahon — England, Crimea
[AF]: unusual setting

The Sultan's Seal (2007) by Jenny White — Turkey
[S. McDuffie]: unusual setting

The Thing About Thugs (2010) by Tabish Khair — England
[AF]: POC protagonist

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno (2010) by Ellen Bryson — New York City [panel]: unusual characters and premise

The Virgin Cure (2011) by Ami McKay — New York City
[AF]: unusual protagonist

Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards (2012) by Kit Brennan — England, Spain, France
[AF]: unusual setting

Yashim the Eunuch Series by Jason Goodwin (The Janissary Tree 2006, The Snake Stone 2007, and The Bellini Card 2007) — Istanbul, Venice
[S. McDuffie]: unusual settings, unusual protagonist


20th Century

A Different Sky (2010) by Meira Chand — Singapore 
[AF]: unusual setting, POC protagonist

Cascade (2012) by Maryanne O'Hara — New England
[AF, JR]: unusual setting, no famous figures
Complicated, frustrating, very real characters and a lovely evocation of 1930s America, beautifully written. - JR  

Dina's Lost Tribe (2010) by Brigitte Goldstein — France
[panel]: time slip, unusual premise

Fires of London (2012) by Janice Law — England

Oleanna (2012) by Julie K. Rose — Norway
[AC, AF, HD]: genre mixing (literary), unusual setting, no famous figures
A gently told tale with quiet depth, atmospherically stark yet richly detailed. - AC  

Our Man in the Dark (2011) by Rashad Harrison — Southern U.S.
[AF]: POC protagonist

Seal Woman (2007) by Solveig Eggerz — Germany, Iceland
[JR]: genre mixing (literary), unusual setting 

So beautifully written and so present and real—I felt like I was reading a biography and not a work of fiction. - JR  

Skeleton Women (2012) by Mingmei Yip — China
[AF]: unusual setting, POC protagonist

Small Wars (2009) by Sadie Jones — Cypress
[AF]: unusual setting

The Concubine's Gift (2011) by K Ford K — China, Nevada
[AC]: unusual setting, genre mixing (fantasy)
A tastefully handled and respectful exploration of sexuality and a lightening-fast fun read. - AC  

The Detroit Electric Scheme (2010) by D.E. Johnson — Detroit
[AF]: unusual setting

The Edge of Ruin (2010) by Irene Fleming — New York City
[HD]: unusual setting and premise
This short, fast-paced mystery is set in the early days of the American film industry, with an ensemble of quirky characters, an unusual setting and premise, and an interesting peek into a little-known world.  – HD  

The Farming of Bones (1997) by Edwidge Danticat — Haiti
[AF]: unusual setting, POC protagonist

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment (2013) by Jennifer Cody Epstein — Japan
[AF]: unusual setting, POC protagonist

The Orchardist (2012) by Amanda Coplin — Pacific Northwest
[AF]: unusual setting, no famous figures


2013 Releases We Want to Check Out!

Heirs of Fortune by Heather Domin (Germania) [JR]
Hetaera by J.A. Coffey (Greece, Egypt) [AF]
Medea by Kerry Greenwood (Greece) [AF]
Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson (Ice Age Europe) [HD]
The Golden Dice by Elizabeth Storrs (Etruria) [HD]

3rd Century
The Far Shore by Nick Brown (Syria)[HD]

7th Century Hild by Nicola Griffith (Britain) [AC, AF, JR, P. Bracewell]
The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin (China) [HD]

9th Century
The Traitor's Pit by V.M. Whitworth (Britain) [HD]

13th Century
Sultana: Two Sisters
by Lisa Yarde (Spain) [HD, JR]

18th Century
Benjamin Franklin's Bastard by Sally Cabot (America) [AF]
Revolutionary by Alex Myers (America) [AF]
The Purchase by Linda Spalding (America) [AF]

19th Century
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Iceland) [AC, AF, JR]
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown (nautical) [AF]
Linen Shroud by Destiny Kinal (America) [AC]
Palmerino by Melissa Pirtchard (Italy) [AC, JR]
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (American Midwest) [AF]
The Mask Carver's Son by Alyson Richman (Japan, France) [AF]
The Mountain of Light by Indu Sundaresan (India) [AC, AF]
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Texas) [AF]
The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill (New England) [AF]
The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber (New York) [AF]
The Specimen by Martha Lea (England, Brazil) [AF]

20th Century  
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (UK, Himalayas) [AF]
A True Novel by Minae Mizumura (Japan, America) [AC]
The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee (Iran) [AC]
The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert (South Africa) [AC]


Additional Resources

Europa Editions
Historical Novel Society Review Index
Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews
Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Book Bloggers

Thursday, June 13, 2013

#HNS2013 Q&As with Panelists and Speakers

As part of the run-up to the 2013 Historical Novel Society conference (next week!), Q&As are being hosted each day with different event panelists and speakers—and today, Margaret Cook at Just One More Chapter is hosting a Q&A with me!

You can find the full list of all of the Q&As at the HNS Conference website.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Summer Banquet Hop: Oleanna Winner!

Congratulations to Jessica McCann! She won paperback copies of Oleanna and Andreas Viestad's wonderful cookbook, Kitchen of Light as part of the Summer Banquet Hop.

Jessica, I'll be in touch to make arrangements.

Thank you to everyone who visited and commented. And big thanks to David and Maria for organizing this blog hop; I learned so much!

Friday, June 07, 2013

#HNS2013 Panel: Historical Fiction Off the Beaten Path

I'm super excited to be part of the Historical Fiction Off the Beaten Path panel at the HNS conference. I'll be chatting with book bloggers Andrea Connell and Audra Friend, and fellow author Heather Domin, on Saturday, June 22 from 2:45-3:45 p.m. (in Plaza C).

Here's a bit of background on our panel, and a clarification about what we mean when we say "mainstream" and "off the beaten path":

There’s nothing wrong with popularity! But with so many books out there and only so much time and space for promotion, the most popular themes naturally get the most attention, while others remain out of the spotlight.
In this panel we will explore current themes and trends in historical fiction and take a look at some books that veer off these paths. Our goal is to show readers the wide variety of historical fiction available to them, and to show writers that there is an audience for every story. If you’ve ever asked, “Doesn’t anyone write (…)?” this panel is for you.

In this panel, “mainstream” refers to the most well-known settings, eras, characters, and/or styles in current historical fiction.

What our definition of mainstream is NOT:
- A method of publishing
- A list of targeted topics
- Overdone (aka “popular = bad”)

As part of the panel, we'll also be providing a list of our favorite off the beaten path historical fiction from the last few years, as well as books coming out soon that we can't wait to get our hands on!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Summer Banquet Blog Hop: A Norwegian Midsummer Feast

I'm so excited to be participating in this blog hop! Foodways and food history absolutely fascinates me.

A great way to get quickly to the heart of a foodway is to look at holidays and celebrations; this is where the traditions are cherished and while sometimes improved upon, not changed without a lot of fuss.

At this time of year, I think most about the Midsummer feast.

Midsummer is important throughout Scandinavia; in Norway, it is known as Sankthansaften (St. John's Eve) or Jonsok (John's wake, from the Norse Jonsvaka), as it is always celebrated on the night before St. John's feast day (June 24). In the days before Christianity came to Norway (approximately 1,000 AD), Midsummer was a pagan celebration, marked by large bonfires throughout the countryside and along the coast.
The bonfire tradition, which is particularly prevalent along the coast, goes back to pagan days, and was believed to produce fertile soil, while protecting from witches and evil spirits. Some believed the witches to be especially active on midsummer nights, gathering their witchcraft ingredients and preparing for witchery at evil gatherings. 
The magic of the fire was seen as a remedy against the evil magic of the witches. However, not only was the fire seen as magic; so were plants and herbs – a belief that gave birth to a tradition that may still be found today: If a girl could find seven different sorts of flowers and hide them under her pillow on midsummer night, her dreams would reveal the image of her future husband. (Norwegian consulate in America)
The Midsummer bonfire, and later the St. Hansbål (St. John's Bonfire), have been celebrated with relish for more than a thousand years; the artist Nikolai Astrup captured many of these Midsummer scenes in the late 19th and early 20th century. Astrup grew up near, and later returned to, the area of Jølstravatnet (Lake Jølster, where Oleanna is set), and his bonfire scenes are some of his most vibrant and beloved works.

St. Hansbål ved Jølstravatnet, Nikolai Astrup
These days, the local fire brigade keeps close watch on bonfires, so most families make do with a municipal bonfire, or their own campfire over which they roast sausages and pølse, and even marshmallows. Other families will have a good old fashioned BBQ with your traditional BBQ fare, and maybe finish up the day with some vafler for desert.

But how did they celebrate Jonsok in Oleanna's day, and indeed for centuries before? Norwegians would eat foods associated with celebration—specially brewed celebration beer, akevitt, whatever is fresh from the lakes and streams and ocean. But above all, you can't have a celebration without rømmegrøt.

What in the world is rømmegrøt?

It is a savory sour cream porridge often served with cured meats like spekemat (cured dried leg of lamb) and flatbrød (crisp bread), but it can also be served as a breakfast or dessert dish. Versatile!

Ingeborg Nygaard, the chef at the Norwegian Embassy, said, “Why we eat sour cream porridge on this day? Well, it is a tradition. Eating sour cream porridge on special holidays is a strong tradition in Norway, and St. Hans is a special holiday. Sour cream porridge is a tradition that goes far, far back in time. It is such a simple and timeless recipe."

OK but really. Porridge? Doesn't sound terribly festive, does it? Well, according to Kathleen Stokker, an expert on Norwegian holidays and foodways,
Porridge has a long history as a festive food in Norway...Regardless of its origins as a Christmas treat, porridge is the oldest warm dish known in Norway, and it constituted for centuries the main staple of the Norwegian peasant diet...To stir the porridge the husmor [house wife] used a tvare (branched stirring stick) made from the trunk of a spruce tree, which her husband had selected, then shaped and smoothed into usefulness. Traditional Norwegian porridge had to be thick, some said "so thick you could dance on it," but at least thick enough to cling to the tvare or even make it stand up straight... (71-72)
In Norway rømmegrøt still appears on festive occasions, though more likely on St. Hans (Midsummer's Eve, June 23) and Olsok (St. Olav's Day, July 29)... (267) 
Kathleen Stokker, Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land; Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000
So, this midsummer's eve, bust out your BBQ, indulge your inner pyro, drink some akevitt (...after the pyro bit), stay up late, and make up a big pot of rømmegrøt. You'll be partaking in an ancient Norwegian tradition!

Rømmegrøt (Sour Cream Porridge)
Recipe courtesy of the Norwegian Embassy

This recipe serves 4

1 pint thick sour cream
12 tablespoons flour
1 pint milk

1. Boil the sour cream, covered, for 2 minutes. Add half of the flour and stir carefully to bring the butter to the surface. Skim it off, reserve it and keep it warm.
2. Stir in the rest of the flour and add the milk. Simmer the porridge for 5-6 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

If one prefers a slightly tangy sour flavor, half of the milk added may be sour milk or kefir.

Sour cream porridge is eaten sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and with the reserved warm melted butter. Red juice, such as raspberry or currant, is usually served with the porridge.

If you'd like to learn more about Norwegian foodways, here are some other food- (and holiday-) related posts:

As part of this blog hop, I'm giving away two paperback books (open to participants worldwide):

Enter between now and 11:59 p.m. PDT on June 7; winner will be announced by June 10.

How do you enter? Simple. Leave a comment here on this post before the deadline. Tweet about this post (and let me know @juliekrose), and get an extra entry!

Below are the links of the other participating blogs in this Summer Banquet HopSkål!

  1. Random Bits of Fascination (Maria Grace)
  2. Pillings Writing Corner (David Pilling)
  3. Anna Belfrage
  4. Debra Brown
  5. Lauren Gilbert
  6. Gillian Bagwell
  7. Julie K. Rose
  8. Donna Russo Morin
  9. Regina Jeffers
  10. Shauna Roberts
  11. Tinney S. Heath
  12. Grace Elliot
  13. Diane Scott Lewis
  14. Ginger Myrick
  15. Helen Hollick
  16. Heather Domin
  17. Margaret Skea
  18. Yves Fey
  19. JL Oakley
  20. Shannon Winslow
  21. Evangeline Holland
  22. Cora Lee
  23. Laura Purcell
  24. P. O. Dixon
  25. E.M. Powell
  26. Sharon Lathan
  27. Sally Smith O’Rourke
  28. Allison Bruning
  29. Violet Bedford
  30. Sue Millard
  31. Kim Rendfeld

This giveaway is now closed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gratulerer med dagen! Norway's Constitution Day May 17

Gratulerer med dagen (congratulations on the day)! It's Syttende Mai!

Wait. What?
The 17th of May is Norway’s Constitution Day. It is a celebration on the anniversary of the declaration of the Norwegian Constitution signed in 1814. Denmark had ruled Norway since the early 1500s but because they were on the losing side of the Napoleonic wars they traded Norway to Sweden. Norway took this opportunity to reclaim independence, signing their constitution on the 17 May to govern their country – however, the celebrations only lasted 10 days. Sweden was on the winning side of the Napoleonic wars and used their power to overthrow the Norwegian claim for independence. Norway was forced to enter into an agreement with Sweden which is known as The Personal Union of Sweden and Norway. It wasn’t until 7 June 1905 that the union was dissolved and Norway regained its independence. (However, Norway’s independence was not recognised by the Swedish king until October 26 the same year.)

Today the 17th of May is a national holiday and a celebration of Norwegian traditions and culture. The focus of the day is the Children’s Parade which takes place in cities, towns and villages all over the country.  (From My Little Norway)
ThorNews has a wonderful description of what happens on a typical Syttende mai in Norway, and there are some fantastic pins at Pinterest, with photos and artwork celebrating the day.

Syttende mai is also celebrated throughout the world in Norwegian immigrant and ex-pat communities. Unsurprisingly, the celebrations in the upper midwest and Pacific northwest are the largest, with parades, bunad, lefse, pølse, music, kransekake, and lutefisk dinners (which is...well, kind of like a dare, honestly). (Learn more about Syttende Mai around the world at Wikipedia and find a Syttende Mai celebration in the US.)

Norway Day for me is pretty low key; I'll put on my mom's sølje pin and maybe make some Norwegian waffles (my family's recipe here, as part of an interview with Oh, For the Hook of a Book).

But in 2004, my husband and I were lucky enough to be in Oslo on Syttende Mai. All photos are (c) Craig Allyn Rose.

The view down Karl Johans gate from the palace toward the Storthing, May 16, 2004.

The view down Karl Johans gate from the palace toward the Storthing, May 17, 2004.

The children's parade is the centerpiece of the day's celebration.

In Oslo, the parade winds past the Royal Palace, where the King and Queen greet the crowds, and then down to the harbor and the City Hall on Oslofjorden (site of the Nobel Peace Prize awards).

In Oslo, after the parade, it seemed everyone relaxed at sidewalk cafes--both real and makeshift.

Of course, it's a great excuse to wear your bunad!

Even the little ones get in on the bunad action!

Syttende mai was very important for Oleanna and her family in 1905 as well--especially when we meet them in the book, as it's John's last Constitution Day with his family. Plus, there's a new excitement in the air...could it be true independence at last?

So, gratulerer med dagen! Raise a glass of akevitt, or at least maybe a pølse (hot dog), in honor of Norway today!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements: Find Your Next Favorite Read!

Debra Brown has very graciously included Oleanna in her latest Historical Fiction Enticements feature--synopses of great historical fiction reads that may just entice you into adding five more books to your To Be Read list/pile!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"So evocative that it verges on poetic." #OleannaVirtualTour visits Let Them Read Books

The last stop of the Oleanna virtual tour brings us to Let Them Read Books, where Jenny has some really lovely things to say!

"It's not often you'll hear me complain that a book is too short, but in this case, I liked it so much that I wanted more...Oleanna is more than enough to carry the story on her own, the setting is fresh and inspiring, and the love story is both tender and tumultuous. I was also very impressed with Ms. Rose's ability to write honestly and naturally and yet so evocatively that it verges on poetic. And her author's note at the end cinched it for me with an old letter that brought tears to my eyes, a sweet homage to the natural magic of the land that had such a hold on Oleanna. Oleanna was a very different read for me, and very satisfying, and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a change of pace in historical fiction.
She's also hosting an international giveaway, which ends on April 19.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 1
Feature and Giveaway at Passages to the Past (giveaway ends April 11)

Tuesday, April 2
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 3
Review, Interview,
and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch (giveaway ends April 10)

Thursday, April 4
and Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages (giveaway ends April 20)

Friday, April 5
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, April 8
and Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court (giveaway ends April 21)

Tuesday, April 9
Review, Interview,
and Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! (giveaway ends April 23)

Wednesday, April 10
and Giveaway at Let Them Read Books (giveaway ends April 19)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"characters that will stay with you long after you finish the book" #OleannaVirtualTour visits Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Erin from Oh, for the Hook of a Book! has reviewed Oleanna, and says,
"Oleanna is a novel that will slowly seep into your subconscious as you read it, provoking at first angst, frustration, and emotional sadness that will leave you breathless, then giving you encouragement and strength as you draw fortitude from the cast of characters that will most certainly stay with you long after you finish the book."
She also hosted a very in-depth (and very fun!) interview—complete with my family's Norwegian Waffles recipe! Plus, she's hosting an international giveaway of Oleanna (through April 23).

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 1
Feature and Giveaway at Passages to the Past (giveaway ends April 11)

Tuesday, April 2
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 3
Review, Interview,
and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch (giveaway ends April 10)

Thursday, April 4
and Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages (giveaway ends April 20)

Friday, April 5
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, April 8
and Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court (giveaway ends April 21)

Tuesday, April 9
Review, Interview,
and Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! (giveaway ends April 23)

Wednesday, April 10
and Giveaway at Let Them Read Books