Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Middle Class of Mycenaean Greece

The Cyprus Research Fund (and the history department at UND) hosted a fantastic talk a while back, regarding Mycenaean Greece -- Professor Dimitri Nakassis (of the University of Toronto) theorizes from his study of the Linear B tablets that the old model of PALACE and PEASANTS for Mycenaean Greek society should be modified to include a thriving middle class and large variety of contracted local elites. He rejects the idea that the repeated names in the tablets are unrelated, or just popular names, and instead suggests that these repeated names with differing responsibilities were the same individuals who took on multiple middle-management type roles.

Linear B tablet from Nestor's Palace
Copy of a Linear B tablet
Photo by Fæ [CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Names associated with titles and important roles are never interpreted as different people with the same names, but the names associated with practical roles and jobs (smith, shepherd, farmer) usually are brushed aside as multiple individuals who happen to share a name with someone else by coincidence. In addition, he points out, there are only one or two instances where it can be PROVEN that a single name applies to a handful of people, and that frequency of naming is still less than 1% of the names presented -- the most "popular" name in the Pylos tablets belongs to 7 men, as opposed to the popularity of a name like Michael or James in the modern world, which is used by something like 12% or more of a population.

So what does this mean? People in Mycenaean Greece weren't as cut and dried as we thought. It wasn't just the Haves and the Haves-Nots. And it wasn't The Palace, and everyone else as tenants. There's evidence of men taking on the roles of Smith, Shepherd, and Land Owner -- perhaps not personally going out and herding the goats, or tilling the fields, but rather as taking responsibility for those tasks and delegating or overseeing the work as done by others. Contracted by the Palace, and subcontracting to whoever is below him on the totem pole. And the assumption that Smithing was some kind of manual labor done by peasant-level citizens is also challenged. Smithing in particular may well have been a skill which PROVIDED status, or at the very least allowed someone to move up the ladder into a local-elite position.

Basically it all boils down to this one, seemingly common-sense framework: People who are mentioned a whole bunch of times across a variety of tablets and related to a multitude of roles are probably more important than people who are mentioned a handful of times, and those people in turn are probably more important than the people mentioned just once or twice, which creates a scale of importance far more complex than simply PALACE ELITE and PEASANT. In fact, it creates a middle class, full of private landowners, private flock owners, private merchants, private artisans, and presents an argument for relationships between these people of LOCAL importance and the Palace which are far more interesting than we previously thought.

It seems like such a simple thing, but its funny how those simple things can be so overlooked for so long!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

HELEN OF SPARTA Available for Kindle First Readers!

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
What's that? Waiting until April 1st for Helen of Sparta is just too long?! You're desperate to get your hands on it sooner? WELL! I have some Exciting News for you, then! 

Helen of Sparta has been selected for the Kindle First program -- and that means you can read it NOW, before it's Official Release on April 1st!!

So! If you've been dying to get your e-book reading paws on Helen of Sparta, head on over to Amazon and grab it! Read it! (And hopefully also review it!) this month. With your help/purchase/review love, maybe Helen can roll into her April 1st release at the top of the charts!

And all the hype aside, I can hardly believe Helen has come this far. I'm so excited to see her story made available to the world, and I would be truly remiss if I did not thank PROFUSELY my editor, Jodi Warshaw, for being such an amazing champion for Helen's story.

I hope you all love it as much as we do!
Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Author Copies have Arrived!!

It's getting so real!



And in the meantime, I'm in the writer cave, working on new words for a new book, which may or may not involve Odysseus, Polypoetes, and Patroclus, among others. 50,000 words and counting!

If you're wondering, though -- HELEN OF SPARTA looks even more beautiful in person!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Helen of Sparta has Cover Art!

And it's so beautiful, I can't stop staring at it!


Helen will be here April 1, 2015!! But in the meantime, you can pre-order the paperback from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or add it on Goodreads!

From the back cover:

Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Helen of Sparta is Coming!

Back in 2009, I was looking for something to write about for National Novel Writing Month. I wanted a topic I already knew something about, generally, so I wouldn't need to do a lot of prep work or research going in to November. A topic I felt confident exploring. Greek Myth seemed an obvious choice, all things considered, and from there, it was a pretty easy jump to Helen of Troy.

But I didn't want to tell the story everyone already knew. I wanted to look at Helen's life from a fresh perspective. And I definitely didn't want to cover the Trojan War. So I settled on her earlier days -- the days before she met Paris and even before her marriage to Menelaus. I settled on Helen of Sparta.

From that seed, the story grew, and after multiple rewrites and edits and more rewrites, I present to you:


HELEN will be released Spring 2015, and I cannot WAIT to share her story with the world!
(you can add it on Goodreads now!)

That said, for the time being, I'd like to ask you all to join me at my other blog -- Good to Begin Well, Better to End Well. While I'll still post HELEN-centric updates over here, chronicling her landmarks as we zoom to publication, as far as general blogging goes, I'm going to be focusing on Good to Begin Well until we get a little bit closer to release. (And you will definitely want to check out the Second Annual #NAMEthatBUTT tournament of sculptural backsides over yonder, I promise you!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sorry for the Radio Silence! I'll be back in October!

Some personal/family stuff has cropped up which requires my attention and my absence from the blog, so I'm sorry to say I won't be posting again until October -- but when I do come back, we'll be taking about Mycenaean Greece! (Because it's the best!)

Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Editing Cave! And an Amazon!

I know I only just got back 5 weeks ago, but I'm afraid I must AWAY again, because I've got edits to edit and family invading (pretty much non-stop between now and the end of August -- it is kind of unbelievable how these things have all worked out) and then, probably, More Edits! So!

What I'm trying to say is that it might be a few weeks before I'm back on the blog.

And in the meantime, here is the most beautiful bronze of an Amazon you'll ever see: