Friday, October 28, 2011

The Most Feared Punctuation on Earth

I'll admit it: I'm extremely partial to semicolons. That's not to say I like them when they're used poorly, and I have been known to substitute an em-dash in a pinch. But, as one of my dear proofreaders can attest, I do tend to throw out semicolons like rice at a wedding (or like rice used to be thrown at weddings, before it was deemed hazardous to birds).

Today I ran across a funny article by The Oatmeal titled, "How to Use a Semicolon: The Most Feared Punctuation on Earth." If you're struggling with the rules of semicolon-age, or just want a good laugh, head on over there to read the rules, see the examples, and enjoy the funny illustrations. You can learn why, "The ice cream truck man drove by my house today; he had big, hairy knuckles" is a prime candidate for semicolon insertion, whereas, "I fought the bear and won. Also, I never kiss plague rats on the mouth," should stick with the more humdrum punctuation of a full stop.

I also enjoyed the explanation of how the semicolon can be used as a "super comma," enabling you to create descriptive lists such as this one:
My favorite people include Samuel Slaughterjaws, a famous unicorn hunter; my uncle Wilfred, a world champion at mayonnaise eating contests; and Nikola Tesla, the most awesome dude to ever fire a lightning bolt at an angry peasant.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The End of the Road

The flavor of today is bittersweet. On the one hand, Road from the West received an excellent review from The True Book Addict who called it a "well-researched and captivating account." Yesterday, the same blog offered a giveaway of my book and featured a guest post I'd written titled, "Modern Perceptions of the Crusades." What could be more exciting for an author?

On the other hand, today marks the close of the Road from the West blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and I'm a little sad to see it end. It's been a fabulous month and a half traveling the blogosphere with reviews, giveaways, guest posts, and author interviews, stopping at around 25 of the best book blogs out there. Amy Bruno, from HFVBT, has been the consummate professional in organizing this blog tour, keeping me apprised of every detail and making sure books are mailed, interview questions are answered, and reviews are posted on time. If you are a historical novelist looking for a publicity outlet, I strongly recommend HFVBT.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the bloggers who participated in my book tour! The help that you give to authors is invaluable as we reach out to find an audience for our work. I've greatly benefitted from both your criticisms and your accolades, and I've discovered some new favorite blogs that I'll definitely be visiting now and again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Challenging a Millennium of Scholarship

I ran into an interesting article yesterday (via the Medieval News blog) touting a new nonfiction book by historian Peter Frankopan that will be "countering nearly a millennium of scholarship" about the First Crusade. In his new book, The First Crusade: the Call from the East, which is slated to come out in 2012, Dr. Frankopan argues that the focal point of the Crusade's origins was in the Byzantine Empire's desire to regain territory, not in Pope Urban's preaching. The Europeans who came to fight came as mercenaries for the Byzantine emperor Alexios. It was only later that Western propaganda turned the military action into a fight for Jerusalem.

The article (originally published in the newspaper The Australian) doesn't go into too much detail about Dr. Frankopan's new findings, but these paragraphs give a small picture of what his new book will propose:

For Dr Frankopan, the First Crusade was therefore not a religious war, but instead a "very specific, targeted military expedition against the cities of Nicaea and Antioch", two former Byzantine possessions that the crusader army swore an oath to hand over to Alexios. Jerusalem was just a carrot. 
The Crusade mythology that emerged from all this was a result of what happened next, Dr Frankopan claimed. Some of the Norman commanders refused to hand the newly conquered cities over to the Emperor. 
To justify this course of action, and a subsequent attempt to launch an expedition against Constantinople, they embarked on a propaganda war of "horrific vilification" against Alexios and his Empire. Urban successfully used the recapture of Jerusalem to cement the power of his papacy and Alexios was written out of the historical record.
I am very curious to read this book once it is released (my Amazon Wish List has been updated accordingly). Dr. Frankopan's claim is an interesting one, but it seems that he would have to discredit dozens of Western sources which attribute the Crusaders' original motivations to their desire to retake the Holy City. Perhaps Emperor Alexios thought he was getting an army of compliant mercenaries, but Urban, Bohemond, Godfrey, and Tancred thought otherwise....

Reviews by Molly - Author Interview

Today I have an author interview over at the blog Reviews by Molly. Molly asked me an assortment of interesting questions: how I chose to write historical fiction, what avenues I use for marketing, and whether I prefer my cake with or without ice cream. Head on over to her blog if you'd like to see my answers to her questions!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Erin Reads - Review

Today Road from the West received a really good review over at the blog Erin Reads. It's always fun to see that someone really enjoyed your work.
Rosanne Lortz writes in a style I’ve found rare in my admittedly limited experience with historical fiction. Over flowery language and paragraphs that drip with details, Lortz favors simple prose and sparse yet effective bits of atmosphere. Rather than describe exactly how something is done or precisely what a scene looks like, Lortz writes just enough that the reader knows and can picture what is happening yet has plenty of room to utilize her imagination. In this respect Road from the West reads a bit like contemporary fiction does, the author assuming the reader and characters share common points of reference that make extended explanation unnecessary. I found nothing lacking in Lortz’s approach and enjoyed how she let Tancred’s story be the novel’s focus.
This is the last week of the virtual book tour for Road from the West. It's been a fun month and a half and I've loved getting feedback from bloggers and comments from the historical fiction community.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reviews by Molly - Review

I hope you're not getting tired of seeing review excerpts from the virtual book tour for Road from the West! There is only one week left of the tour, and it has been so much fun to work with all the book bloggers and with Amy Bruno from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Today Road from the West is being reviewed over at Reviews by Molly. Here is an excerpt:
There is so much to say about, devotion, redemption, love, much more, including the spoilers, so I'll stop. I will say this, READ IT. If you are a history lover, a Christian, or just wanting to know more about a time in history that many people don't look back on, then get a copy NOW. Ms. Lortz' passion for her history knowledge shines through. She brings a life-like story to her readers, creating a 4 Book worthy start to a fantastic new series. I can't wait for the second book in Tancred's story! FANTABULOUS work, Ms. Lortz! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Words and Peace - Review

Today, Words and Peace is featuring a review of Road from the West as part of my virtual book tour.
I think the author did a fantastic job at retelling the historical setting and what happened with lots of accuracy – I read since a few things on this crusade to compare (you could read this article for a first introduction). I especially enjoy the way she focuses on the character of Tancred. She manages to make him a very human and lively character, inserting in the novel some elements of romance which fit nicely.
Emma, the reviewer at Words and Peace, is also an artist who specializes in painting on rocks. I've been enjoying looking through her galleries this morning, and I especially love this nativity painting of the infant Jesus. It's making me all excited to start decorating for Christmas....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Owl Bookmark Blog - Interview and Giveaway

The Owl Bookmark BlogToday, as part of my virtual book tour, I am being interviewed over at The Owl Bookmark Blog where I get to answer questions like, "What was the easiest part of writing Road from the West?" and, "What do you have planned to write next?" Rumor has it there's also a giveaway in full swing, so if you still want to win a copy of Road from the West, head on over there to enter.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Three Reviews + Kindle Nation Daily

I neglected to post yesterday, so today I have three new blog reviews of Road from the West to tell you about. The first is over at A Few More Pages:
....I definitely would like to continue reading about Tancred's adventures, and since this book only takes us part-way on the Crusaders' journey to Jerusalem, I am looking forward to picking up the next book in the series. There are too many questions still left to be answered: Will Tancred make it to Jerusalem? Will Alexandra win his heart? Will Bohemond gain the riches and power he is after? I must find out what happens!
The second review is at By the By Books:
Lortz's narrative is wonderfully written. The writing is very simple, but in a good way. I felt that this section of history, which is almost 1000 years old, was fresh and easily understandable for today's reader....
The Owl Bookmark BlogAnd the third review is over at The Owl Bookmark Blog, a website which has the most whimsically delightful header:
It is very obvious right off the bat that Lortz did her research and probably is as familiar with the Crusades (all of them)as she is with the back of her hand.  This novel is full of historical facts and anecdotes as well as a very realistic setting that allows Lortz's historical prowess to show....
 In other news, Road from the West is the featured sponsor over at Kindle Nation Daily today. KND is a website with a large e-mail subscriber list that alerts Kindle owners about great finds in the e-book world. The site owner, Stephen Windwalker, is a pleasure to work with, and we've really enjoyed the ads that he's put together for both I Serve and Road from the West.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bippity Boppity Book - Review and Giveaway

Today Road from the West is being reviewed over at Bippity Boppity Book. This is a blog I love to stop by quite often, and it is also the host of the Chivalrous Deeds: Historical Fiction Challenge which I am participating in this year. Head on over there to participate in the giveaway or to read the rest of this review:
As someone who has never read a thing about the First Crusade, I enjoyed this book quite a bit.... I liked the main character Tancred because it is clear that even though he was raised by his Uncle, their ideologies are completely different and Tancred proves himself time and again throughout the Crusade that his Uncle’s way is not the only way.  Also as a former Soldier I liked that Tancred was all about what was best for his Soldiers and able to swallow his pride for their benefit....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Musings of a Book Junkie - Author Interview

Today, The Musings of a Book Junkie is graciously hosting an author interview with moi. And I must say, it's one of my favorite sets of questions that I've had to answer so far. Head on over there if you want to see my responses to queries like, "The Crusades have a bad reputation. Why should we learn about the Crusades?"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Peeking between the Pages - Review and Giveaway

Today's stop on the virtual book tour is over at Peeking between the Pages. Head on over there for a giveaway and to read the rest of this review of Road from the West:
The author’s writing is very descriptive and really brought to life this time period for me. What I enjoyed most about this novel is that it wasn’t only about battles and blood and guts. It was actually about the people – the soldiers and what they were thinking and planning. Yes there were battles but I came away from this novel caring about some of the characters like Tancred and Alexandra.  From the beginning of the story I felt drawn to Tancred and his family and it made me want to read more.
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