Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two!
And an INCREDIBLE Special Price on Book One!

Ready (willing and eager) to see the cover of the much-anticipated second book in the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy? Well, you’d be better, because here it is (be sure to read all the way to the end of the post to discover an extra special bonus!).

But before we get to the gorgeous cover, here’s what the author has to say about the next book in this thrilling trilogy and its cover:

“I knew I wanted the second book in this trilogy to be a little more personal, get into the lives of these courageous women, and da Vinci himself, a bit more deeply. Oh, they are still daring to go where women had never gone before in the Renaissance, and they put everything on the line for the love of their art—their marriages, their family relationships, even their lives—to do it, to bring their work out into the open, no matter the consequence. But in THE COMPETITION, I’ve pulled back more of the layers of their lives and the secrets they may hold. Desire love is brought to fruition, desire is ignited, disastrous illnesses change lives, and familial condemnations are shattered. All set amidst the glory that is Florence during the Renaissance.

These women are bold; there can be no doubt. But they are elegant women and this cover, like the first, captures that elegance to perfection. It is the seamless companion to the first, and they look dazzling together.”

Ready to see the cover? Not just yet. Here’s the official description first:

A commission to paint a fresco in the church of Santo Spirito is about to be announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative job will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage, and now able to pursue her artistic passions, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win. The very public commission belongs to them.

But with the victory comes a powerful cost. The church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring upon themselves will disrupt their families, and even put them in physical danger.

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing to her a joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has a flame reignited, sparked by Lorenzo himself. Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two goes on sale April 25, 2017. 

Now, are you ready to see the cover?


Are you sure?

Here it is!

Do you love it?!

Haven’t read the first book yet? Now’s your chance at a special reduced price. For the next four days (beginning November 2 until November 9), the Kindle version of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY IS ONLY $.99 Order it here now!

Read the first critically acclaimed book (a Top 20 Amazon Bestseller Italian Historicals), fall in love with these daring women, and get ready to fight beside them for the right to be who they truly want to be in THE COMPETITION.

 “Russo Morin’s elegant command of language and composition left me breathless, but the story itself, with its flawless depiction of power, corruption, defiance, intrigue, and retribution makes Portrait of a Conspiracy an absolute must read.” Flashlight Commentary

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”—C. W. Gortner, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI

“This riveting book is filled with art, assassinations, retribution, and a sisterhood of fascinating women who inspire as well as entertain.”—Stephanie Dray, NYT Bestselling author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's prose is as sharp as a Medici dagger...Thwarting danger, finding love, and creating masterpieces, [these women] remind us just how powerful the bonds of womanhood can be.”—Marci Jefferson, author of THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”—Heather Webb, author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”—Kate Quinn, author of THE EMPRESS OF ROME SAGA

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Just like movies, as a book goes through the editing phase, there are often great scenes that need to be cut for the good of the overall book. The first draft of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Da Vinci's Disciples Book One came in at over 500 words. I feel in love with the true facts of the horrific assassination that opens the book. I wanted every facet of the gruesome event to be chronicled in my book. However, the political machinations between the great Medici family and their rivals, the Pazzis, are the main focus of the book. With a breaking heart, but an understanding mind, I took the advice of my great agent and editor, and paired down the multitude of details on the assassination.

That doesn't mean they are lost forever. Today I begin a series that will highlight those deleted scenes...just like a deluxe edition DVD.

If you haven't read the book yet, here's what you need to know:

In Florence on Ascension Sunday in the year 1482, the Pazzi family, with the help of mercenaries, priests, and possibly someone higher up in the Vatican hierarchy, plan the assassination of the powerful Medici brothers: Lorenzo de' Medici, the defacto ruler of Florence, and his peace loving brother, Giulino. The attempt takes place in the great Duomo of the largest cathedral in Florence,Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers).

As the madmen draw their daggers, chaos and blood burst within the packed cathedral. Giuliano falls.Lorenzo escapes...but how? Here is the scene, firmly rooted in the actual history, that reveals it.

In the haze of half-life, Giuliano saw Lorenzo’s mouth form his name but could not hear the voice, the voice of his childhood, of his conscious, for the buzzing in his ears drowned all else out. He felt no pain, only gladness as he watched the attackers fail to assault his brother.
Their eyes met and, through them, all that ever lived between them—every moment, every word, all their love—was spoken for the last time.

Giuliano’s bloodless lips spread as if in smile, as he watched his brother disappear from his sight, alive and safe, beyond the heavy bronze doors and into the sacristy. He turned his whole head, or did he—he could not tell—to the door, now closed where he last saw his brother. Now instead death appeared before him and he greeted it wide-eyed, beautiful mouth open in silent denial.
        Nightmares exist in the wakeful moments of day

“Giuliano! My brother, my brother,” he shrieked with mania and anguish, not even the nasal twang enforced by the deformed nose could forsake the abject grief in his voice as Lorenzo pounded against the door, pulling and pushing against those who would keep him inside, keep him safe.
The battle raged within the cathedral still, but here friends fought against friend, Lorenzo against his protectors, as he quaked with vengeance to be released from their grip, to be freed from the small room where he was imprisoned away from his brother.
“Leave me,” he screamed, veins popping out in blue ripples upon his reddened forehead. “Leave me be. I must get to my brother.”
Golden chalices clanged raucously as they fell from the golden oak table once in the center of the rectangular room, now abruptly slammed against the back wall made of the same wood, the shimmering paneling encircling the entirety of the small space. Table legs screeched against the marble floor as the bevy of men fought to keep Il Magnifico from raising the barricade someone had quickly dropped into place upon their entrance, locking them safely within the sacristy’s confines. 
“You cannot, My Lord. I cannot allow it.”
Somehow the young Cavalcanti, a cousin branch to Lapaccia’s own, named for and devoted to the Medici Lorenzo, wedged his body between his namesake and the bronze door. But the older man abused the body as he had the bronze, barraging it with tight-fisted, blistering blows.
“But I must see to Giuliano. I saw him fall. Though he lives still, I know it.” Lorenzo’s dark eyes, protruding but sightless, bore into and through the young man’s face, seeing only the crumbling of his brother’s body over and over, losing sight of him again and again behind the legs of the crowd, tree trunks in a dense, demonic forest. The not knowing ate at him like famished vultures, teeth sharp and stabbing. “Or does he? Has he died? Do you know?”
The other men bundled in the small room peered at each other as if looking in a mirror. Gapping mouths, eyes wide yet unseeing, spatters of blood, it was all there in an indisputable portrait. But the fear now came from the great Lorenzo de’ Medici himself. Never had Il Magnifico behaved in such a way. His words, those of the most intelligent man they knew, made no sense. His hands moved in a frenzy; from his stomach, to his face, to pounding Cavalcanti’s chest, to reaching for the door as if he reached through it.
The young man shook his hair of oaken brown, now a tangled and stringy nest falling to his shoulders, his youth revealed in the quivering lip and tear-filled eyes. “Please, My Lord, please.”
It was begging, no doubt, but for what was unclear; capitulation, perhaps, but of what sort.
“Lorenzo, my friend.” The deep soothing voice came from behind the Medici, a voice now low and melodic, one Lorenzo had known since his memories began. He turned to the call as the bruised child would to its mother.
Sigismondo della Stufa stood but a breath away, reaching out a hand, placing it upon his shoulder, and turning Lorenzo from the door and the spent Cavalcanti. Even taller than Il Magnifico himself, his was an imposing figure, to anyone. Lorenzo’s forehead creased as he raised his brows in silent, pathetic questioning.
“You cannot go out there, Lorenzo.” Sigismondo took Lorenzo by both shoulders, holding the shuddering man tightly with his eyes as well as if to still the tremors of both body and mind. “Those who long for your death may be waiting. They want your blood and nothing less.”
The words were hooked arrow tips, wounding in as well as out. 
“W…who?” Lorenzo stammered.
Sigismondo shook his head of tight black curls. “The…the Pazzis, I know, but I cannot be sure which. Others with them.”
“They would not. They could not,” Lorenzo protested, pushing the turban, long since twisted askance, off his head, thrashing it to the ground. “Not here, not so sacrilegious an attack. It cannot be.”
But the stalwart Sigismondo did not move nor speak and the truth clung thickly to the silence.
Lorenzo dropped his head; the distemper once seizing him draining away, downward, like water expulsed from mountain rivers. It was then he saw it; the streak of thick blood, darkening as it dried, running from the beneath the door and past him, further into the small room. He followed it with eyes newly keen and his chest heaved and collapsed with the pain of the sight.
In the farthest corner, though but a few steps away, his friend and savior Francesco Nori laid in a pool of his own blood, hands gloved in his life’s liquid pressed uselessly against his open gullet.
A moan, a whimper, and a lunge; all compelled Lorenzo to his friend’s side, nudging— without thought—Antonio Ridolfi aside, he who had pulled Nori within.
“Francesco. No, not our Francesco,” Lorenzo muttered, splotching his own hands with Nori’s blood as they touched the man’s wound, the man’s face. 
The cold, wet contact roused the injured man, but barely.
Francesco’s blue eyes, ones so quick to glint with mischief, now the gray of a winter sky, fluttered open. The slits spread as if in smile at the face hovering above him. And, as if the sight were enough, the eyes closed…never to open again.
Lorenzo dropped his head back upon his shoulders, neck bent in half, convulsing; shoulders shuddering with silent sobs. 
“What is this?” Beside them Ridolfo swiped at his own tears, rustled his damp fingers through his long ash brown hair, then took Lorenzo by the shoulder with one hand and pulled the cowl of the man’s robe away with the other.
There for all to see, a gash the width of a large dagger, bright with fresh bleeding, at the base of the neck, as if a line had been drawn upon Lorenzo’s collar bone.
Sigismondo leapt to their side with two long strides, followed quickly by the shorter Loris Tornabuoni, Lorenzo’s cousin, he who had been keeping an ear to the door with Cavalcanti. Pulling Lorenzo’s tunic even farther aside, tearing it in the effort, Sigismondo saw, as did they all, the skin reddening in anger around the laceration.
“Poison?” The venomous world slithered from between Antonio’s teeth.
Sigismondo silently nodded, jaw clenching beneath stubble-covered skin.
Still in a crouch, Antonio sidled once more to Lorenzo’s side, padded and pleated leather doublet creaking as he lowered his head toward the wound.
But Lorenzo came back from his grief at the movement, at the words. “I am fine. Be gone from me. I must get to Giuliano.”
“Be still, Lorenzo!” It was a bark, this time, from Sigismondo, no time or patience for coddling. “You could be dying. What help to your brother would you be then?”
Lorenzo took the slap but not without a dark stare. “You cannot tell me if he lives. Why should I care if I do?”
Sigismondo rolled his eyes heavenward, but instead of returning to his stubborn friend, the suddenly curious gaze flit to the left wall, back up and then down. “Allow Antonio to extract the poison and I will endeavor to find out.” With his words, he jabbed a thumb over his shoulder.
All eyes followed and found what he had, a slim and slithering spiral staircase, of the same highly polished golden oak wood of the walls, standing against the partition anonymously.
“You go and then—” 
“No!” Sigismondo ended Lorenzo’s negotiation before it began. “I will go while or I will not go at all.”
Eyes closing in defeat, Lorenzo leaned back against the wall, raising his chin, and opening his wounded neck to Antonio.
With the honor breed among these men, Sigismondo rose and made his way to the steps. As he climbed, Antonio lowered his head, this time Lorenzo allowed the man’s lips to latch upon his skin. The sounds of Antonio’s sucking kept time to the beat of each step Sigismondo took upon the rails, loud in this small room fecund with the odorous of blood and excrement. 
A few draws and Antonio pulled back his head, spitting the viscous liquid of blood and saliva away and over his shoulder. A few more steps and Sigismondo reached the apex of the spinning stairs, those which would bring him to the entrance of the organ loft above the cupola.
Sucking again, Antonio spit, this time the liquid he spat made a clear glob upon the floor. 
“Just once more,” he said, to himself as well as Lorenzo. Doing so, he withdrew and stepped away, mouth still full, and hunkered down in the opposite corner. Spitting, emptying his mouth, he stuck two fingers down his throat. Up came more liquid as his body heaved, parts of his morning repast spewed as well, an assurance no poison remained in either of them. 
Spent, Antonio dropped back on the floor, curled his slim body up with his head on his knees.
Lorenzo de’ Medici, the great leader of the Florentine people, a despot some whispered in shadowed corners, crawled to Antonio’s side and wrapped his arms about his care giver. 
“Your valor and service this day will not be forgot,” he told the exhausted man. Turning to the others in the room, he assured them all, “Nor that of any of you.”
Almost dropping Antonio, Lorenzo released his hold and jumped to his feet. Sigismondo was no longer in sight.
“He must have crawled into the loft,” Cavalcanti said in a voice as crooked as his bent neck.
In silent minutes untold, they waited. Lorenzo could not even fathom how long they had been sequestered. Was it just this morning he had been in his brother’s chamber, berating him like an irate father? Or was it a day ago? A year?
With far more noise than accompanied his exit, Sigismondo entered the high space of the sacristy, descending the slim stairs with as safe a swiftness as possible.
Lorenzo stepped to the bottom to greet him. “My brother? Did you see my brother?” He yelled upward.
Sigismondo’s foot slipped on a slim step; body pin-wheeling, he caught himself quick, righting himself with a grunt. “I will tell all whence I am down there, or else I will fall to my death and be able to tell naught.”
Chided, Lorenzo stepped away, but his dark eyes remained locked upon the back of his friend.
Jumping down the last two rungs, Sigismondo bent over, hands upon knees, as he drew deep gasps of air into his depleted lungs, or perhaps to forego the coming conversation.
It was clear what Lorenzo thought. He crouched below Sigismondo. “Tell me all.”
Raising his head, giving it a shake, Sigismondo reached out and gently pushed Lorenzo so he sat on the floor. Slowly sitting before Lorenzo, burly body collapsing, Sigismondo’s story had already begun. Before he said a word, Antonio turned his face back to the corner; Loris slithered down the wall.
“I will tell you this first,” Sigismondo took the hands of the man across from him, a man he served without question, a boy he had called friend for the whole of his life. “There are no enemies on the other side.” He ticked his square head toward the ten-paneled bronze aperture. “There is no one there but more of your friends, more of your loved ones. Your father, for one, Loris.”
Loris sighed to hear of his father’s safe keeping.
“They wait for you, Lorenzo. I could hear their worried chatter from above though they could not hear my calls. They—”
“My brother is dead, isn’t he, Sigi?” Lorenzo found only the pet name as he squeezed the man’s hands. “My brother is gone.”
Sigismondo bit upon his own upper lip, clamped upon it till a small dollop of blood came forth.           He nodded then, a small, simple gesture screaming the blasphemy. With a squeeze of his lids and a clench upon Lorenzo’s hands, Sigismondo pulled the man into his embrace. It was all he could do.
There was no sound; the world had become a hollowed, empty place…until the scrape of the bar upon the door broke it. All save Lorenzo watched as Loris lifted the barricade and slowly opened the door. 
The men beyond the door made to rush in, but one large, raised hand by Sigismondo held them, slowed them. Giovanni Tornobuoni, the poet Poliziano, a Medici cousin Martelli, and others checked their relief at the life of Lorenzo in the face of his grief at the death of Giuliano.
Sigismondo raised the bereaved man to his feet, and, wrapping him in a silent blanket of care and tenderness, the men closed around Lorenzo, leading him out of the sacristy and the cathedral itself, steering him far from the covered body of his brother where others stood sentinel.
The silence held almost to the door. Almost.
There, knowing he left forever his beloved brother behind, Lorenzo loosened a cry to smash against the dome ceiling far above, to berate the Gods even higher.

Learn more about PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Da Vinci's Disciples book one here and here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Massive Summer of History #Giveaway.
You can win historical fiction books
And $100 gift cert.

A couple of things I love to do is introduce my readers to other great books in the genre. So what's better than having a chance at winning one of my books this summer? How about a chance to win books and prizes from 18 other top writers of historical fiction today? Best of all, it's just in time for you to kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy the warm weather with a great book.

Pick Five Books You'd Like to Win!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2016


In celebration of my book's release day (May 10th), I'll be holding a giveaway starting Tuesday on my book's page (Da Vinci's Disciples). Like the page to enterto win a copy of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, as well as a key pendent as worn by the women of the secret art society! Become a Da Vinci Disciple!

Friday, April 15, 2016


A wise and talented man once told me that ‘it doesn’t matter how great your book is, if no one knows it exists, they don’t know to buy it.’ As the quintessential ‘critically acclaimed, starving artist,’ my ‘resources’ to get my book in the public eye are limited. Now there’s Thunderclap. 

Thunderclap is a new website that allows people to pledge to Tweet or Facebook a message, all at the same time on the same day. It is by far the easiest way for my family and friends to help me get word of my book out. Follow the link below, where you agree to allow Thunderclap to post my designed post on the day of its release on one or more social platforms. It’s a book blast flashmob! 

I PROMISE you, they will post this post, and ONLY this post. I’ve supported other Thunderclap campaigns and have NEVER had a single problem with them posting anything else. HOWEVER, this campaign will only take place if enough people join the campaign.

 I would be ever so truly grateful for your participation in this campaign…for your support of my work. Thank you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016



Donna Russo Morin
Editorial Services

It's next to impossible to edit one's own writing (or typing, for that matter) with an objective eye.  Familiarity breeds errors.  As a twenty-five year writing professional, I offer expert editing and copy-editing services.  I am an internationally published author of fiction and nonfiction with a BA in Communications from the University of Rhode Island, and certification from the National Writer's School.  I have many years of experience as an editor for both print and internet magazines and I teach writing at my state's most prestigious adult learning center.

My editing expertise lies in all areas: spelling, punctuation, spacing, sentence variety, subject verb agreement, dashes vs. hyphens, bullet points,  jargon, syntax, confusing phrases or modifiers; chapter headings consistency; presentation of numbers, quotes, images, links, margins, headings; consistency of capitalization, abbreviations, font, names, locations, character names, logic or paragraph sequence; uniformity in presentation style/author’s voice.

It is my sincere goal to try to teach authors where their weak points are and give suggestions on how to correct them, empowering them with evolved writing skills; to not only improve their book, but improve their craft overall.

Three levels of service are available:

 Express Proofreading-spelling, typing, punctuation and basic grammar.
 Basic Copyediting-with above, word choice, clarity, phrasing, grammar and syntax.

Advanced Editing-with above, extensive rewriting and reworking of text for readability and style. In addition, I provide an in-depth analysis of the work overall, making suggestions on the plot arc, character development, and much more.

 *A page is defined as standard manuscript size, using double-spaced lines (cost for single-spaced material is one and a half times the listed rates).

My CV, including all clients and their works, is available upon request.

Contact me at for rates and availability.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016


                                                                                                      ENTER HERE

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


To all my blogger and professional reviewer friends, the first book in my Da Vinci's Disciples series is now up on NetGalley. I would be ever so grateful to those who love historical fiction, to give it a read and let me know what you think. I am always so thankful to anyone who takes the time to read my book and to share their thoughts, opinions, reviews, and ratings. I value your time and opinions. Please feel free to share the link with any other bloggers or reviewers. With gratitude!


Thursday, February 11, 2016


Many readers, and perhaps some authors, don’t know of the power of algorithms and how they can make or break the success of a book. The first instance is pre-orders. Pre-orders will determine if online retailers (cough, Amazon, et. al) send messages and feature any one book. The more pre-orders, the more they’ll feature the book. It will also determine how many books their publisher will print. The best written book can fail if these algorithms aren’t put into play. It is no longer just about the craft, as it should be.

Three months before its release, both the print and e-version pre-order links of my book, PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, are now available. I’m so thrilled to be working with a publisher attuned to being competitive.

The e-version is ONLY $4.99!!!! 

I would be ever so grateful for any interested readers to make their way over to their favorite online retailer and put in your pre-order. Sharing this post would be a big help in assisting me to triumph over the algorithms.

Here are the links to the two biggest online sellers:


With gratitude.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I do not write stories where everything ends tied up in a pretty bow and I do not apologize for it. That’s not life. Yes, there are pretty bows here and there, for some more than others. Yes, I write stories of women from the past, but their lives often had fewer pretty bows; their struggles were often simply to survive. I believe the women and men who read—or would read—my books, are of an intellect and maturity that allows them to appreciate not only the truth rather than the fairy tale, but also know what it means to cherish the little bows that trickle through our lives, for they are often far more precious.