From now until January 17 you can enter to win a hardcover copy of Michelle Moran's book "Cleopatra's Daughter" and an ancient Roman coin complete with a certificate of authenticity. Entering is easy. Post a comment on any post on my blog during that time and you will be entered to win.
Every comment qualifies as an entry!
Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.
Michelle has traveled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. In 2006, Michelle was married at the Chateau d'Esclimont in France, a 16th century location which spoke to both her and her husband's love of history. Every year, both Michelle and her husband embark on an historically-themed trip for two to three months. In 2008, they retraced the journey of Homer's Odysseus, and most recently they followed the path of the American Revolution from Boston to France to Virginia.
A public high school teacher for six years, Michelle Moran is currently a full-time writer living in California with her husband. She is the author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter. Her fourth novel, Madame Tussaud, will debut in March 2011.
Here's an Interview with Michelle
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. Some authors come to writing by chance, some after graduating college or working for a while. For me there was never any doubt about what I would do as a career. I think my teachers felt the same way. I can remember being in third grade with the toughest teacher in the world and hearing her voice echo in my mind like a scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. "Michelle... Michelle... Michelle?" Only I wasn't physically absent like Bueller. Just mentally! When I write, the scene unfolds in my mind like a movie, only I'm the director. I can listen to characters' dialogue, then tell them to stop, do it over, say the words differently, or strike a different pose. In an academic setting this can be a problem, because instead of learning Calculus I'm watching a movie, only it's a movie with endless possibilities because I create the scenes.
Q: How long did it take you to get published?
My first attempt at getting published was in seventh grade, when I was twelve. So I guess I can say it took me fifteen years. I had written a full length book that was probably pathetic but everyone praised it and my father hailed it as the Next Great American Novel. My father was very good at ego-boosting. But no one knew how to go about getting published, so I went to my local Barnes and Nobles and asked them how. And instead of laughing, the bookseller took me to the writing section and I purchased the current edition of Writer's Market. From then on, no agent or publishing house was safe. I learned how to write query letters and regaled them all. And some of them sent personal letters back, probably because I had included my age in the query letter and they either thought a) this kid has potential or b) this is sad and deserves at least a kind note. I went on to write eleven more books before writing Nefertiti, which would eventually sell to Random House.
Q: Where are some of your favorite places to travel?
France tops my list, and I mean anywhere in France. Paris, the Riviera, Normandy, Saint Symphorien, the Languedoc region. Then Italy, particularly Venice, and finally Vienna in Austria. I could live in any of those places easily, and someday probably will.
Q: If you weren't a writer what would you want to be?
A teacher. I taught in a public high school for six years and nothing could be more rewarding than exposing young adults to historical fiction and many other kinds of reading and writing. Many people talk about teaching with an abundance of clichés. You can change lives, you can open doors, you can etc etc. But for me, those clichés were all true.
Q: Any advice to aspiring writers?
Keep writing. If at any point along the way I had stopped writing and said to myself, you know, I think book number eleven will be my last, I wouldn't be published. Writers don't like to hear this, though. I know when I was looking at writing advice and I would see this posted somewhere I would think, well that's helpful. I wouldn't have thought of that. But the truth is there's no good-ol-boys-club and there's no backdoor into the publishing industry (unless you're already a star). Good work sells, and if it doesn't, write another one, then maybe once you're a success they'll haul out all of your old books that weren't worth publishing the first time around, spruce them up a little, and voila, all of your previous efforts won't have been wasted. Or maybe you'll look back on those books and think, wow, they knew something I didn't. My work has gotten better. And then you'll hide those first eleven books in a closet somewhere (or a craftily labeled folder in My Documents so that no one ever finds them).
An excerpt from Cleopatra's Daughter:
C H A P T E R - O N E
August 12, 30 BC.
WHILE WE waited for the news to arrive, we played dice. I
felt the small ivory cubes stick in my palms as I rolled a pair of ones. “Snake eyes,” I said, fanning myself with my hand. Even the stir of a sea breeze through the marble halls of our palace did little to relieve the searing heat that had settled across the city.
“It’s your turn,” Alexander said. When our mother didn’t respond, he repeated, “Mother, it’s your turn.”
But she wasn’t listening. Her face was turned in the direction of the sea, where the lighthouse of our ancestors had been built on the island of Pharos to the east. We were the greatest family in the world, and could trace our lineage all the way back to Alexander ofMacedon. If our father’s battle against Octavian went well, the Ptolemies might rule for another three hundred years. But if his losses continued. . .
“Selene,” my brother complained to me, as if I could get our
mother to pay attention.
“Ptolemy, take the dice,” I said sharply.
Ptolemy, who was only six, grinned. “It’s my turn?”
“Yes,” I lied, and when he laughed, his voice echoed in the silent halls. I glanced at Alexander, and perhaps because we were twins, I knew what he was thinking. “I’m sure they haven’t abandoned us,” I whispered.
“What would you do if you were a servant and knew that Octavian’s army was coming?”
“We don’t know that it is!” I snapped, but when the sound of sandals slapped through the halls, my mother finally looked in our direction.
“Selene, Alexander, Ptolemy, get back!”
We abandoned our game and huddled on the bed, but it was only her servants, Iras and Charmion.
“What? What is it?” my mother demanded.
“A group of soldiers!”
“Your husband’s,” Charmion cried. She had been with our family for twenty years, and I had never seen her weep. But as she shut the door, I saw that her cheeks were wet. “They are coming with news, Your Highness, and I’m afraid—”
“Don’t say it!” My mother closed her eyes briefly. “Just tell me. Has the mausoleum been prepared?”
Iras blinked away her tears and nodded. “The last of the palace’s treasures are being moved inside. And . . . and the pyre has been built exactly as you wanted.”
I reached for Alexander’s hand. “There’s no reason our father won’t beat them back. He has everything to fight for.”
Alexander studied the dice in his palms. “So does Octavian.”
While Michelle isn't here to answer your questions, I'll do my best to field them. Every comment is an entry. Comment on this and other posts and up the odds that you may win this great prize. Contest open up to and including January 17.
Good luck everyone!
Good luck everyone!
Ring of Desire
From the Dust