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Archive for October, 2011

                      

      Well, all my fantasy-prone blog followers and friends, I’m sure you all must love Halloween as much as I do. The night you can pretend to be whoever you want and roam the streets under the guise of darkness, the crisp leaves crunching under your costumed-feet, collecting CANDY from strangers! The night where fear is confronted and spooky is embraced. The night where the veil between us and the afterlife thins and the dead can mingle with the living.

Oh I LOVE Halloween.

This year we actually have a white Halloween.

Yes, snow in the fall everyone.

They say it hasn’t snowed this early in these parts since the Civil War. I actually love the snow (as long as I keep my power that is), but it’s pretty strange to be trick or treating in half-a-foot of snow. Our area has actually sent out a public message strongly discouraging going out due to power outages. In lieu of house-to-house, they are offering candy at the town hall from 2-4. Well, that sounds terribly depressing. I’m going to look up which neighborhoods still have power and drive my son around to all the Halloween friendly houses. I’m sure my son will be telling his grandchildren about this one day. One of those — “When I was a boy we had to trudge through four feet of snow to get our candy!”

I’m even more bummed this Halloween since I usually host a huge Halloween party where I do things like this:

                 Welcome to the haunted house…muh-ah-ah-ah!

                           (Harry Potter music blasting)

         (Um…the ectoplasm thing in the lower left corner appeared after I took the picture 😮 )

                              Every haunted house needs a cemetery

                       Some of those guys pop-up!

                           The grim reaper on his phantom steed

Oh seeing all these pics makes me miss having my party this year, but since I have an infant to take care of into the wee hours of the night, I decided to forgo it. Boy am I glad I didn’t try though, the snow would have wrecked everything. I would have been rushing around trying to save all of my decorations and animatronics. I hope it still feels like Halloween a little bit tonight. It feels like Halloween Grinch has stolen it from us.

So in honor of trick or treating, I’ve posted a little more of my book below:

                                                                                                           Chapter 2
Years later, my palm-wood-sandaled feet trot along the stone path through tall desert trees that provide much-needed relief from the dry heat of the land. I come to the end of my purification walk from my family dwelling outside the sacred city of Memphis. My thirty days of service is about to begin, and I’m eager to reclaim the position of my late father and his father before that. I already feel strength from my fast. I walk steadfast under the towering statues of Ra lining the walkway to the temple entrance. I’m beginning to feel alive again, every muscle tingling.
Above the door bears the sacred inscription: “The House of Life—The Learned Ones of Library Magic.” Every time I pass under that engraving, pride consumes me. I’m the high priest of such a temple. The six guards at the entrance step aside and bow to me, allowing me access. I point for my lagging slave, Nun, to go to my sleeping chamber and prepare it for the evening. The interior of the temple drops twenty degrees, and my sweat cools instantly, causing a slight chill. Torches illuminate a path down the corridor as the smell of incense engulfs me.
Another guard opens the massive cypress door and bows on one knee while holding the heavy door open. Inside the high- ceilinged room stands an imposing statue of Serapis, God of Dreams, to which our temple is dedicated. All around the statue, offerings of fruit, nuts, beer, wine and fresh-killed lamb are piled up. Expensive oils and incense are burned in wide pots at the perimeter of the vast room, casting light on the papyrus plants, lotus, and palm trees painted to the top of the walls. I look to the flying birds and stars painted to the greatest height across the vaulted ceiling. A harpist plays soft music while beautiful virgins dance slowly. I walk to the altar and bow as a priestess wafts a cloud of incense and natron around me.
I head through the pyres to my right which lead me to the cleansing pool. I stand at the pool’s steps, waiting with my arms out, as a stolist priest unties my cotton loincloth. Naked, I kneel down as another stolist lathers my head with scented lotion and shaves my hair to my scalp. I stand again as he shaves all of my body, hand-plucks my eyebrows and each eyelash.
As a viper feels after shedding its skin, I breathe deep and glide into the cool, pure water, then sink beneath. Breaching the surface and rubbing the water from my eyes, I catch my reflection in the golden mirrors lining the edge of the pool. Water runs down my brown skin, causing a glistening effect in the glowing dimness of the room. With all my hair gone, my features look chiseled, emphasizing my prominent nose and thick lips.
As I exit, the priests anoint my body in balanos oil and tie a clean white linen loincloth around my waist. I bow my head as one places the moonstone eye of Serapis around my neck and a gold arm cuff around my biceps. I turn to another who paints my eyes, brows, and lips black with kohl out of a lotus-shaped glass container. To finalize the cleansing, I rinse my mouth with salty natron water and spit into an alabaster flask. The priests bow to me as I walk back into the central room of the temple, again bow to Serapis, and continue to the dream-incubation chamber. I am to prepare the evening’s special ceremony to find Nebu’s—God Wife of Serapis—adopted Royal Daughter.
I walk into the large central chamber, where two lower priests are tending the giant fire pits on either side of my podium that holds my sacred books. I take my place at the altar, enclosed by the thick, stone columns, to review the last priest’s journal entries. The tended fires blaze, illuminating the carvings of the dream gods carved on all four walls. Gods who are waiting for pharaohs, priests, scribes, wealthy merchants, and commoners to come to scry for cures, magical spells, hex removal, fertility, and prophesy. I hold their most vital hopes and dreams in my hands.
The two priests finish with the fires, refill incense oils, and then bow as they back out of the chamber; I wave them away.
Hearing sandals clicking down the corridor outside, I can tell it is Nebu’s quick light feet as she comes to greet me. She is beautiful, as all of the wives of gods are expected to be. She wears her gold-and-lapis lazuli collar, gold headdress, and gold-painted long skirt wrapped around her hips. I bow before her, appreciating every inch of wasted splendor, since no earthly man can ever have her.
“Sokaris,” she says with her hands out for me to grasp in greeting, “I hope your leave was restful?”
“I grew fat and bored as always, and I’m eager to dedicate myself again.” I hold her hands and bow with her.
She begins to walk, silently commanding me to follow her down the corridor.
“It is time for me to pass down my position, but I do not want to choose poorly. I need to adopt an apprentice who will not merely fulfill my wifely duties but also please Serapis.”
As we are approaching the main chamber, Edjo—Nebu’s favored apprentice—comes limping down the corridor in tears. As Edjo is normally a graceful and tranquil beauty, this is an abnormal event. Her tears cause her kohl to make black rivers down her fine-featured face, and her amber eyes look beseechingly to Nebu.
“Most High, I awoke this morning with a large and painful lesion above my knee.” She points to a festering wound seeping clear fluid down her right leg. “It is a curse, I tell you! I dreamed of a jealous enemy last week!”
Nebu turns to me, and I nod in validation.
“I also have a rash that has spread all over my face and down the back of my neck.”
We lean closer with a torch and see her skin is indeed raised and red.
Nebu shakes her head with disappointment. “I am sorry, Edjo, but these are all signs the gods do not find you fit for this position.”
Edjo crumples to Nebu’s feet.
“Once you are healed and purified, you are welcome to be one of my esteemed dancers,” Nebu says as she pats her heaving back.
Edjo begins kissing her feet. “Please, Nebu, please see this for the treachery it is! I have been groomed for Serapis, raised to be his wife! I am Edjo, the daughter of Amun! This is my birthright! My family will be shamed!”
Nebu shakes her off her feet and starts moving down the hall to the other dancers.
Edjo shrieks from behind us, “I cannot bear this shame! I am going to drown myself in the Nile, and the one that has cursed me will be damned!”
Neither Nebu nor I give her a second look. Nebu whispers under her breath, “Clearly not ordained.” The rhythmic drums and cymbals are heard from the corridor,and the chamber is filled with movement. Twenty royal dancers twist and turn to the beats, striving to stand out and impress Nebu. They can all turn the head of any man, but they dull like the dust stars next to the brightest and shining star. I stop hearing the music when I see her.
She watches her hands and the intricate movements they’re making as her hips click with the beat. I don’t know which part of her to watch first. She is the waves rolling from the center of the sea with no end and no beginning, an unrelenting ripple of her whole body. She starts with a large movement of her middle and lets it flow to an undulation out the tips of her hands and then back down to her toes. Her body reflects all of the flickers of the fire, making her cast a marbled glow. Her motions hypnotize me, and when I find the music has stopped—I want more.
I shake my head to break the spell and look to see if Nebu notices the trance she put me under, but she too is watching the girl. She claps her hands. “Satisfactory.” Then, motioning to the harpist to begin playing, she commands, “Sing for Serapis.”
When it’s my dancing girl’s turn to sing, she doesn’t have perfect pitch, as did other girls, but she sings quietly and so sweetly. Her eyes! Her eyes are large, honey pools you can fall into and never climb out! She is the most intriguing and captivating woman I’ve ever seen. Something is different about her—something powerful—something mystifying. She moves, and my eyes follow; she speaks, and my ears tune out all other sound. I feel far away from her and want to be closer. I wish no one else were in the room.
Nebu interrupts my pain. “I see you agree with my choice.”
I pretend to be only slightly interested. “There are many talented girls for you to pick from, but one does seem to have a magic air to her.”
“Ah, you have noticed. Yes, that is a good way to put it.” She smiles while gazing upon her. “I wonder, though, if she seems devout and disciplined enough?”
“That is hard to see in the arts. We will need to probe deeper and let our ancient knowledge guide us.”
My heart races at the thought that I’ll get to spend some time alone with her.
“Yes, we will have to trust the ancients—and you, Sokaris.”
I leave to take my place in the dream-incubation chamber before Nebu sends her. I have to regain composure and steady myself for the important task ahead. I look up at my reflection in the brass incense burner, and I see her float in behind me. I turn, avoiding her eyes, and stare at my papyrus.
“Name?” I ask. “Bastet, daughter of Ketuh.” Her voice is melodious. “Age?” “Fifteen and a half years.” She’s older than most royal daughters, but it is not unheard of for someone her age to be considered. Her blue glass ear studs catch my eye.
“Let me see your palm.”
She outstretches a fragile, long-fingered hand and slowly turns it within my palm as she looks directly in my eyes. I feel a charge at her touch but continue my task. She has many great talents on her hand but carries three of the most ominous signs: a weak and broken lifeline that foretells a short life; she lacks the gift of willpower whorl on her thumb; and most intriguing to me, her mount of Venus is well padded, showing immense passion. Normally I wouldn’t even let a candidate stay after this miserable reading, but I can’t stand the thought of her leaving.
“Please follow me to your chamber for the night.”
I lead her to the smaller chambers where dream incubation takes place. I motion her to enter the room first, pushing aside the urge to pull her to the bed with me.
She sits down on the side of the linen-draped bed and asks, “Who is looking upon me as I sleep?”
I freeze at her unabashed forwardness but thaw when she points to the carving on the headboard.
“That is the midget god, Bes: the Dream Protector.” I motion her to come to the table beside me. When she nears, I can smell the remnants of scented wax in her braided wig releasing its sweet perfume. “Tonight you must pray to the god Serapis to send you a fortuitous dream, one that can tell us of your destiny with him. Please write his name on the papyrus.”
She obeys with some skill, and I roll it up and place it in a lamp beside her bed.
I pray, “Will it be granted that Bastet, daughter of Ketuh, be Royal Daughter to Serapis? Reveal it to me; answer this little written prayer.”
I light the papyrus to burn while she sleeps. She bows, and I leave her chamber to attempt to retire in the chamber next to hers. It must have been hours before my body relaxed enough to sleep, knowing she is so close.
I’m getting back into bed and am fixing the scroll with my god’s name when I feel something move by my leg under the sheet. I throw back the sheet to expose a writhing mass of snakes crawling and hissing on top of me. I scream as they all bite into me at once, igniting me in flames.
I wake, thrashing and breathing hard.
The same dream again and again!
I write on my papyrus: GET SEHKET!

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First of all, I had a great response for book reviewers. Thank you all so much. There’s still one more ebook to giveaway so pm me if you’re still interested!

I thought it might be a good time to show a run down of what it cost me to get this book published if anyone was curious.

Expenses so far:

Music donation for book trailer= $20

Photos for my book trailer= $60

Ebook cover= $150

Full print cover= $30

Chapter vignette graphic= $15

Ebook formatting files= $150

Smashwords formatting file= $50

Print formatting file= $100

Extra formatting since I added the bibliography after the fact= $75

ISBN #’s = $250 (for ten and I used two for the ebook and print) = $50

Bar code for print version= $25

Editing = $375

Copyediting = $175

Website (per year for domain)= $25

Grand Total= $1,300

Obviously, you could do this for less money if you forgo a book trailer, format yourself, or decide not to make a print version.

So if I sell my book for $2.99, and at the very least make $1.79 a copy with premium catalog retailers, than I will have to sell around 727 ebooks to break even. Who says algebra wouldn’t come in handy later?

Selling 727 ebooks is my first goal. No matter how long it takes, this will be the carrot I’ll dangle above my head.  That breaks down to 60 ebooks a month, 15 ebooks a week, to 2 ebooks a day. 2 ebooks a day! That is completely possible. Plus, if I sell my print version it will help get there even faster.

Writing is so fulfilling for me, so to break even will make it possible to keep going. It would be great if I made money, but if I can at least not lose money with my passion than that is all I can hope for.

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I want to extend an offer for a free ebook review copy to all my awesome and supportive blog followers. You have all been so fantastic along this journey and I wanted to say thanks by giving you all a chance to get my book for free!

The first ten people who privately email me (see sidebar for address) I’ll send a free Smashwords ebook coupon to. If there are those out there that are not familiar with Smashwords (me, before self-publishing) then I will be more than happy to give a little instructional. You don’t need an ereader or kindle either since you can download a copy that you can view on your computer screen.

If you have some free time to read this quickly, and to leave a review on Amazon upon my launch or shortly after, I would be so appreciative. It would be so wonderful to have a few unbiased reviews up around my release date: 11-11-11. *Gulp*

I’m asking everyone who reviews my novel to be completely honest. I know that no book is perfect and I welcome everyone to say what they liked and didn’t like. Sometimes if someone sees all rave reviews they’re suspicious that they’re left by family members, (funny thing is my family members will probably be the most critical on me–remember family of eight-no mercy there). Sometimes negative reviews make readers more interested in the book. So please, feel free to review critically.

If you don’t have the time to read right now or prefer not to leave reviews, I will have other opportunities in the future to get my book and other goodies for free, so keep an eye out.

Thanks everyone!

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I had such a hard time fitting my square-peg-of-a-book into the round-holed genres that agents represented. My book definitely has a fantasy component with an after-life ‘what if’, yet it certainly isn’t the sword-wielding, princess-saving, threatened-kingdom high fantasy most are used to.

My book also has a strong historical component as well. I’ve researched these time periods and tried my best to submerge the reader into an accurate and tangible setting, yet it is not your basic historical. I thought I found a better genre in historical fantasy, the best of both worlds I presumed. Until I read some and realized my book was still not fitting completely in these genres. When I showed others my historical fantasy cover they complained that it wasn’t representing the usual ancient magical covers of the genre.

Nothing seemed to fit.

I knew my cover is exactly what I needed. My focus is the heaven in which my character is in limbo, reviewing her past lives in a lucid remembrance. It is the thread throughout the series and it’s central to everything.

So, it wasn’t until I came across another reincarnation novel in a book search on Amazon that I realized what my genre was.

Reincarnation Fantasy!

Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn by Neil Gavin is listed under reincarnation fantasy, a sub-genre of fantasy (I’ll have to add this to my to-read list, it sounds great). So I’ve been labeling it wrong this whole time! I thought I might have even created a whole new genre, but here it is! My series is definitely a reincarnation fantasy.

There may not be any agents that represent this genre in particular and it might be a very small grouping (490 titles on Amazon), but you have more chance of becoming a big fish in a small pond. Right? I still have to choose historical fantasy in the limited drop-down lists found on some sites, but for all other situations this is my genre.

Who knows? Maybe it will become more popular in the future.

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First, I’d just like to say, that I’m walking on a badly neglected treadmill in my basement as I’m writing this. I have quite ingeniously, (and dangerously…do not try this at home), created a little shelf from an old sign for my laptop to perch on. If I walk slow enough, (which is never a problem), I can actually multitask by getting a little exercise while I type this blog. As long as I avoid a horrible accident I’m going to make this my new thing.

So on to what’s complicated…

My novel.

Actually my whole series.

Saying your novel or series is complicated is probably as attractive as describing yourself as complicated on a dating site. Complication is something people usually tend to avoid. There are whole magazines out there with themes of simplifying your life. Most people crave simple. But I’m different and I hope there are others out there like me that crave complicated. I seek out complex plots, intricate details, perplexing characters, and elaborate imagery. I ate up Lord of the Rings (oh I wish there was more Tolkien!). I enjoyed every genealogy tangent, creature description, and pencil-sketched map. Some complain Tolkien’s too complicated and need to watch the film in order to understand the world he created. I loved my Shakespearian courses delving into the double entendres and pulling apart every word.

But I’m the fifth child in a family of six. I thrive in entropy — anything simple and organized repels me. I want to read books and watch movies & tv shows that surprise me and make me think. Most of time, I can see where plots are headed and wished for more suspense and twists. I don’t want everything spelled out for me with plots and characters tied up in little square packages.

I didn’t want to create a linear, basic reincarnation novel, where two soul mates fall in love with each other in a few lives. Novels in which a few peripheral characters play a background role with little change throughout lives. I wanted to portray a reincarnation something closer to life. More characters and more lives. I wanted to create a realistic universe where people grow/fail/stagnate. Where relationships evolve in surprising ways, causing the reader to look deeper into who we are. How you and those in your life may have come to be where you are now.

My novel requires thought. My reader must enjoy tracking characters throughout many changes over time. Relationships evolve in surprising ways and I’ve done everything with the grand scheme of the series in mind. Everything happens for a reason and my reader must think deeply about all that is occurring and why. Each character has their own journey. Yeah, there will be a chart for those readers who might not want to plot their own but it’s there for reason…the more you think about my book the more you will see.

What about you? Do you enjoy a complicated novel every now and again?

Wow and look at that…an hour flew by! Now off to eat some well-deserved smores (I’ll never lose the baby weight this way).

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Editing for dummies

I never feel dumber than when I receive my ms back from my editor. Nevermind the fact that this time I went through specifically looking for all that she pointed out before. These are all the new things I got wrong this time around:

 

1) I overused the word look/looks/looking/looked. Sad thing is I think I did a search for this word before I sent it off so I need to open a thesaurus for this exhausted verb.

2) On occasion I began sentences with And or But, apparently these make weak sentences and my editor suggests just removing them.

3) She flagged many run-ons and comma splices and suggests to use periods or semi colons.

4) Many words were repeated close together. These are so hard to point out to yourself.

5) I need clearer sentence tags in instances where I have people talking of the same sex.

 6) My horse in one of the lives changes back and forth from stallion to mare. Ooops! I changed this after the first draft and I must have missed a few.
    7) I have to quote what she actually said right here because it’s so funny and true, “All-caps and multiple exclamation points are weak writing. Exclamation points even look like little baseball bats, and you’re just whacking your reader over the head with them when you use more than one. And oftentimes, even one is too many. ;-).”   I must stop using them so much!!!
      8)  I still switch my narrative into past tense. I have gone over my ms a dozen times just looking for this since I originally wrote these three novels in past tense and my jaw drops with how many I still miss.

       

      I wish I could see what someone else’s draft looks like after an editor return so I might feel better at all these corrections. But then again, that might depress me if I saw much cleaner versions. Part of me worries that if I keep making my editor work this much she’ll realize it’s not worth the time and money to help me or she’ll increase her charge since I make her work so much more.

      Honestly though, the corrections were half the amount this time than the first of the series, so I guess I’m improving, but I really thought I’d done a good job this time…oh well, maybe by the fourth of the series I’ll impress her with my grammatical improvement.

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      The good news is that my second proof arrived and this time the cut of the book is perfect.

      The bad news is that I’ve come across a change that I will need to go back to my formatter for and I hope he can work on quickly. I decided (hopefully not too late) that I need to include a bibliography in the back of my book.

      Most traditionally published historical fiction authors don’t include a bibliography, but that is usually due to the publisher not wanting to pay for those extra pages. However, in this electronic age, it seems much more cost-effective to post up sources on your book’s website and direct your readers there through a mention in your forward. So this is what I planned.

      This weekend though, I spoke to my editor who advised me to add a bibliography to be extra safe. I don’t hesitate to include my sources, in fact, I wish I could use footnotes to cite historic events. I would love my reader to see that many of my ideas, details, and events are actually inspired by true accounts. Although, most readers seem to detest the interruption of footnotes in fiction. The last thing I would want to do is to disengage my reader so I have restrained myself from citing. I decided to include an interactive page where my reader can click on links to sources that will further educate the reader. I planned to use this page to give credit to my excellent sources as well, but I realize that I should also include my sources within the book to be sure I acknowledge to each reader that I was inspired and informed by those talented non-fiction writers.

      I have to hurry my bibliography and get it off to my formatter now so that I can approve yet another proof. I am getting down to the wire now and I might have to put-off some of the less critical tasks to do this right.

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