Forthcoming: Red Turban, a novel of historical fiction about Zhu Yuanzhang’s rise from new recruit to unrivaled leader of the Red Turban rebellion sweeping across the heart of China. Target publication date of late 2022. Email me if you would like to be notified when Red Turban is available for pre-order, or if you would like to receive a review copy.


Available Now!

Book Title: The Lacquered Talisman

Publisher: Earnshaw Books

Genre: Historical Fiction (1300s China)

Length: 330 pages

Publication date: March 2020. Yes, I published my book about the plague in the middle of a pandemic.

Available formats: Paperback and e-book

Cover artist: Kerry Dennis, a fine arts student in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. (And also my son!!!)

Suggested paperback list price: $19.99 (Kindle book price is $9.49; Kobo ebook is $9.99)

Ask for The Lacquered Talisman at your local bookstore. Try my page on! (Disclosure: I am an affiliate of and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.) I also have an author page on Amazon and on Goodreads. Follow me! Other purchasing options include the websites for Barnes & Noble, and for Indiebound, along with the new

Within China, email the publisher ( to request a copy.


Book Description:  A sweeping coming-of-age epic, The Lacquered Talisman launches the story of one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. He is the son of a beancurd seller and he will found the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. Known as “Fortune” as a boy, Zhu Yuanzhang is part of a large and doting family who shepherd him through hardship until drought and plague ravage the countryside. Left with nothing but a lacquered necklace from his grandfather, Fortune is deposited in the village temple and is soon wandering the countryside as a begging monk. He encounters pockets of resistance to the ruling Mongol dynasty, studies the stars, and tangles with Taoists as he seeks to understand his destiny. Signs and dreams convince him that he has a special fate. Is he to be the abbot of a monastery? A general? What matters most is that he prove himself to be a filial son.


“This was a beautifully written tale that delved deep into the personality of the man who would one day become emperor and we were made privy to his humanity, his immense suffering, and his underlying deep principles. As a story of one overcoming the odds of birth, it could hardly have been more inspiring. The descriptions of the living conditions of the time are bleak, stark, and evocative, yet one can feel the overwhelming beauty and majesty of the vast landscape covered in the story.” – March 2021 five-star review (soon to be available on their website)

“Historical fiction lovers will delight in THE LACQUERED TALISMAN, which gives us a vividly-imagined, brilliantly-told story of a real-life emperor’s humble origins.”  – August 12, 2020 five-star review

“A fascinating and intriguing historical novel of tragedy and fortitude! 5 Stars!” – Wisconsin Writers Association 2020 review by Bill Mathis

“This first book in a series about Zhu Yuanzhang takes him from toddler to neophyte soldier and holds the reader’s interest from beginning to end.” – Historical Novel Society, Issue 94, November 2020

“Using only a handful of sources, Laurie Dennis paints a vivid historical landscape peopled by unforgettable characters. Readers will thrill to the story of “Fortune,” a young man from a shattered family who discovers his destiny while trying to survive in the turbulent world of fourteenth-century China. The Lacquered Talisman is historical fiction at its best: realistic, richly-imagined, and totally involving!” – Harry Miller, Professor of History at the University of South Alabama and author of the Ming Dynasty novel, Southern Rain

“Laurie Dennis knows more than anyone else about the founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang. This fictionalized adventure tale fills out the peasant emperor’s own account of his family’s fortunes and misfortunes, and tells us about daily work, games, customs, and religious practices in 14th Century China. Anyone interested in Asian culture or history will enjoy and learn from Dennis’s lively and well-informed story-telling.” – Sarah Schneewind, Professor of History at UC, San Diego, and author of A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China

“What I particularly enjoyed about this novel was that it took me to a place I have not been, and a chance to venture into the literary world of Chinese history and culture.” Discovering Diamonds August 12, 2020 review

Blog feed: click here for posts about publishing my debut novel

Contact me: My WeChat ID is LaurieBadgerland, and you can find me on:

Twitter at @LDennis1368

Instagram at @lauriedennis1368

(Fun Fact: 1368 = the year of the Ming founding!)


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