Feast of Sorrow Long-Listed for Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

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Feast of Sorrow Long-Listed for Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

When I wrote Feast of Sorrow, I never once thought of being nominated for a prize, much less winning one. I thought it might be a decent book, and one that some people would like, but I figured it was such a niche genre that I might not even find a publisher for it and would eventually have to start writing on book two and then sell it later. 

I was not at all prepared for how things have actually unfolded. Not only did I find a big publisher, but the book has sold well and I've managed to average 4.8 stars on Amazon, and even went to second printing within two weeks. It still seems very surreal to me and I am truly humbled by the reception the book has received.

In June I was nominated for the Readable Feast awards for culinary writing in New England. I was the only fiction novel up against cookbooks and food memoirs. I knew it was a long-shot for me to place at all and I was ecstatic to be nominated. 

And then, last week, I was blown away when I saw the tweets congratulating me for being nominated for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. I'm in some incredible company (note George Saunders next to Feast here!) and I find myself in true awe. 

To be nominated is the real honor, that the team of very esteemed judges found something they loved in my novel. 

The short list will be announced in September, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

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Can You Guess How to Pronounce Apicius?

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Can You Guess How to Pronounce Apicius?

Writing a book set in Ancient Rome means that I have to work with a lot of names that are probably unfamiliar to people, such as Thrasius, Sotas, and Ruan. And, ironically, when I included ancient Roman names that have survived the centuries, such as the name Melissa, my readers told me that the name felt too out of place.

One name that I couldn't futz with is the name of the character central to my book. Apicius was a real person, a gourmand,  who lived in the first century. His name is on the oldest known cookbook. And a famous restaurant in Paris, and a cooking school in Spain.

If you listen to the audiobook of FEAST OF SORROW (which I really think is fantastic!), you'll hear the name of Apicius pronounced with a soft "c" sound like ah-pish-us. That's how you'll hear the name pronounced by modern users of the name. Except it's not how the name would have been pronounced back in Apicius's time. And it's not how food historians pronounce it or anyone who speaks Latin.

It would have been pronounced with a hard "c."  Like ah-pick-ee-us. Just like Caesar was said with a hard "c" and the Italian word for dinner, cena (now said like chay-nah), was also pronounced with a hard "c."

At some point in medieval times the hard "c" of Latin switched to a soft one in Italian and voila! Great confusion on how to say the word Apicius. :-)

To learn a little about how we know about the Latin and what it sounded like, give this video a watch. Super interesting, I swear!

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Spring Historical Fiction Giveaway

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Spring Historical Fiction Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Time to stock up on late spring fiction!  Please join me, Melodie Winawer and Janet Benton in the celebration of the launch of our new  historical fiction novels!  

Follow the actions to the left. Each action gives you a certain number of entries! The more entries, the better your chances. 

What they are saying:

ABOUT LILLI DE JONG: "A gorgeous paean to the courage and ferocity of a mother’s love." - Shelf Awareness
ABOUT FEAST OF SORROW: "If true gastronomy resides at the intersection of food, art and culture, then Crystal King’s debut novel can only be described as a gastronomical delight." - Associated Press
ABOUT THE SCRIBE OF SIENA:  "Lovers of meticulously researched historical fiction and time-travel narratives will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena." - Library Journal

View the sweepstakes rules here.

Header photo by Flickr user Dreamdottie

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#IWriteBecause

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#IWriteBecause

Writing tech and freelance marketplace startup, Reedsy, is running a really cool campaign called "#IWriteBecause: A Campaign By Writers for Writers" which showcases authors and the reasons why they write. They want to bring writers together through video.  For every author who contributes a video, Reedsy is going to donate $10 to Room to Read, a non-profit foundation that focuses on literacy acquisition and girls’ education in Africa and Asia. Over 11.5 million children have benefited from Room to Read’s charity efforts in over ten countries. 

I'm thrilled to be among the first batch of writers who have submitted videos. 

Here is my #IWriteBecause video:

If you are interested in participating, send your short, one minute or less video, through the submission page. They will compile all the stories on their site and on their YouTube channel. And you will have just helped a young girl become that much closer to being able to read. 

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FEAST OF SORROW is 1 Week Old!

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FEAST OF SORROW is 1 Week Old!

I began writing FEAST OF SORROW in 2007.  I had about five or six chapters when I joined Lisa Border's Grub Street summer Novel in Progress class and began workshopping it. In it I met one of my writing partners, Anjali Mitter Duva. When I took the fall class, I met another writing partner, Jennifer Dupee. I was off and running. 

It didn't take me ten years to write the book. I wrote off and on, mostly on weekends, finishing the first draft in the early part of 2011 and then revised it multiple times for potential agents over the course of the next few years. It took me another four years before I began working with Amaryah Orenstein at Go Literary. And then, from the time that Touchstone Books expressed interest in the fall of 2015, a full eighteen months to publication. 

A decade! I'm fairly sure that future books won't take so long. Whew.

There are a few wonderful things that writing this book has given me:

  1. I've met some really cool and incredibly interesting people. Scores of authors, best-selling and not; food historians; generous Romans; chefs and restaurateurs; librarians; art historians; journalists; other food writers and many many kind readers.
  2. I've also reconnected with many people that I haven't talked to much in years which warms my heart.
  3. The chance to fall in love with Italy, its culture, language and its people. 
  4. I get to do the other thing I love (and get paid for in my professional life), social media, PR and marketing. But this time I am doing it for myself and my own product, which is immensely cool. 
  5. I've explored all sorts of foods I would never have thought to try, expanding my palate and my cooking skills both!
  6. I learned that putting together a cookbook is a crazy beast and I have the utmost respect for people who create them. 
  7. I am constantly meeting new people and I have a bevy of new fun experiences (readings, cooking events, literary festivals) ahead of me.
  8. I've discovered so many new books, may of them outside of the genres I normally read, as a result of connecting to dozens of other debut authors. All of these books help me  expand my world-view even further. 

I'm sure this is the tip of the iceberg...I hope it's a monster iceberg too!

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It's Spring in Italia! Historical Fiction Book Giveaway

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It's Spring in Italia! Historical Fiction Book Giveaway

Italy is beautiful at any time of the year but especially so in springtime when the land springs forth in a burst of green (such as above, in the Villa Borghese in Rome). Springtime also brings us new books set in Italy, two in the world of ancient Rome and two during the Renaissance. Please join me, Sarah Dunant, Margaret George and Alyssa Palombo in the celebration of the launch of our new Italian historical fiction novels! See below for your chance to win a copy of each of our books!

Follow the actions below. Each action gives you a certain number of entries! The more entries, the better your chances. 

In bocca al lupo!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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It's a Goodreads Giveaway!

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It's a Goodreads Giveaway!

Head to Goodreads for a chance to win one of 10 advance reader's copies of FEAST OF SORROW, the delicious historical fiction debut by Crystal King! Hurry! It ends on February 28th. 

Book Giveaway For Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome

Addictively readable first novel.
— KIRKUS REVIEWS
Combines exotic menus with the melodrama of a Greek tragedy. King’s debut is a compelling historical drama with an appetizing center.
— BOOKLIST
feast facebook.jpg
A delight to the senses, King’s debut novel is to be savored and devoured.”
— LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

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Out With the Old, In With the New

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Out With the Old, In With the New

Another year nearly gone by. A time for reflection and a time for resolutions. The end of this year feels fraught with anxiety for me, for a variety of reasons. I know I'm not alone in this regard. There seems to be a collective UGH that the people around me are saying. 2016 can't go away fast enough, for me, and for many others out there. 

The year began with the loss of David Bowie. I had been telling my friends how I thought Black Star was one of the best albums he had ever released, not knowing all along the travesty that awaited for us on January 10th. Now I have a hard time listening to it because when he recorded it, it was clear he knew he was going to die. It was his last message and last gift to millions. For the first time, I felt truly wrecked about a celebrity death. Even now as I write this I find myself with tears in my eyes. 

So many other horrible and baffling things have happened this year: terrorist attacks across Europe, the war in Syria and the devastating ruins of Aleppo with the subsequent refugee crisis that so many nations now face, the Zika virus, police shootings, Brexit, the Pulse nightclub deaths, Russian hackers, fake news, the deaths of many inspiring and influential people, and the election of most thin-skinned, orangest narcissist that ever lived. It's no wonder there is a collective cry to bury 2016 deep deep in the past. 

There were some other personal things in my life toward the end of this year that have added to his big pile of excrement, some of which I won't talk about, but other things like some of my dearest friends moving away didn't help either. 

That said, there were many good things that did happen. As I move into 2017, which is going to ROCK, l want to look back at the good things. 

  • I edited FEAST OF SORROW, met the Touchstone team, got my ARCs back and in general realized that this is really happening! I am publishing a book! 
  • Became part of the Debutante Ball team which has turned out to be one of the brightest blessings in my entire year. What an incredible group of women! 
  • I also joined the '17 Scribes, another group for debut adult novelists. I can't begin to tell you how many wonderful writers I've met and how many great books I have read! 
  • I spoke at Grub Street's Muse & the Marketplace in front of 500 people about my upcoming novel, FEAST OF SORROW. It was an incredible opportunity after over a decade of attending the conference as a writer, then an instructor and finally, a novelist. 
  • I went with my writing group, the Salt + Radish Writers, on our annual retreat to Maine and yet again, we had an amazing time, wrote a lot of things and bonded even more. I love and appreciate these women more than they will ever know.
  • I went to Rome again for a week of research on my second novel. Escaping to Italy is never a bad thing. 
  • I wrote big chunks of book 2 and I hope to finish that off early in 2017.  And Benjamino at Casa Dei Coronari gave me a huge idea for something big that happens in the book. 
  • I've been living vicariously through some of my best friends, Melissa and Phil, who are on their Wiggly Path traveling the world for a year..maybe more.
  • I far surpassed my goal of reading 75 books this year, locking down 88 (and may be 89 before tomorrow). I'm not going to do a big post on the last chunk of them but instead you can head to Goodreads and see them all. 
  • I finally got to see Vanessa Peters play live, when she was here in Boston a few weeks ago. YAY! Her new album, The Burden of Unshakeable Proof is wonderful. 
  • One of my childhood and still best friends, Leanna, continued to commiserate with me and share her love of unicorns and monkey babies. For that, I'll be forever grateful. :-)
  • My husband and I celebrated 16 years together. YAY! 
  • I had the chance to meet one of my biggest Rome inspirations, Katie Parla, and sample delicious dishes from her new cookbook, Tasting Rome, when she was in Boston doing a dinner at Stir. 
  • Through the magic of Twitter, I met classicist Emily Hauser, whose gorgeous book, For the Most Beautiful, about the women of ancient Troy, comes out in January. She gave me some great help on my own book, correcting the Latin and pointing out some weird historical things she noticed. Whew! 

I'm sure there are more things I could add to this list. There are more people that inspired me, affected me, helped build me up. We often don't remind ourselves of the good things, and that's important. 

Goodbye 2016. Here's to an incredible 2017 ahead! 

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