Small Celebrations – June 6, 2014

Welcome to Friday and the weekly blog that Vikki at VikLit thought of well over a year ago.  It is a way we pause to celebrate the small things that together make our lives richer.  Reading the posts over the months will open your eyes to the many, many ways we touch delight and celebrate it.  The hop is still open if you want to join, and it has drawn a wonderful group that posts, remembers, celebrates and just generally supports and cheers you on.
.here are lovely people involved in posting, remembering, celebrating and being just generally awesome – rather like yourself, don’t you think?

The information on the hop is below.  Why don’t you join?  Or, at least, visit the various posts and smile.

…And today I am celebrating…Books!

I just ordered two books yesterday.  One of them is to replace a book that I had, that was lost during four moves.  It is a sourcebook and a picture book (don’t get me started on picture books…)  It is a collection of aerial photos of Paris, taken from close(r) to the ground.  This was done after years of negotiating with the French government, which does not allow flyovers.  One day was granted, and this book resulted. 
It was very useful, since I could visualize the buildings, see the terrain.  Besides, I loved my visit to Paris, and if I ever win a lottery or inherit an emerald mine, I will go back and stay a year in an apartment near the Pont Neuf with three – count ’em! -bathrooms complete with soaking tubs.
I ordered another book on Paris (I’m writing a story set there), and since it’s about urban planning (it is not polite to yawn), it should be good.  Besides, the sample I read rather thoroughly is beautifully written.
I ordered both of these in ‘hard copy’.  The first is a hardback.  It’s an oversized book, and they don’t do well in softcover.  The other is a paperback. 
I never got over my love for books.  The things you hold in your hands, the fresh pages that smell of ink or, if they are older, of library dust.  The dog-eared pages, the notes in the margin (mine), the tucked-in bookmarks that can be anything from a magazine advert cut out because it’s pretty or a receipt from some lunch enjoyed years ago.
I have an e-reader.  A Kindle Fire.  I bought my first Kindle under protest because while I am not a Luddite by any means, I don’t like to deal with something that might conk out in the middle of a page leaving me glaring at my reflection in a black screen and screeching “What is the matter with this blasted thing???  It’s gone black!  Gah!”  My friends and loved ones informing me in tones of sweet reason that shaking the thing isn’t going to help, nor is blunting the blade of the Navy cutlass willed to me by my father.

(I wouldn’t have done it anyhow.  I like the thing.  The cutlass, that is).  I will say that my review and corrections are being done, preliminarily, on my uploaded MS using the Fire.

But books have a feel, a sense of completeness.  If I hold my volume of Treasure Island (Stevenson) in my hands, I have a sense of holding the entire adventure between my two palms.  Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver (one of the most chilling villains I’ve encountered – and you never suspect him till the end), the parrot, Captain Flint, Captain Alexander Smollet, and the plague-ridden island.

You can hold a book, linger over it.  If you’re in the right place you can nearly bathe in it:

My library, such as it is, is not quite as palatial as this one, but the idea is the same.  I do have to dust it.  At least it is not as chaotic as this one:
Actually, that one might have a few too many books, and I’d be afraid that the shelves might come down.

Books are tangible in a way the electronic readers are not.  You can hold them, smell them…  Though I suppose that if an e-reader exploded there would certainly be a smell…
You can mark them up.  (My ms is marked up.  Little yellow squares with little blue boxes.  If I click on them successfully, up come my notes.  they *are* handy, but oh so unromantic.  Rather like emails instead of handwritten letters.  Written in fountain pen.  I am told, though, that my letters are eternal because they are hard to read.

But I digress.  I do like the fact that I can indulge my terror of being left without something to read but not wanting to do damage to my spine by trundling along a suitcase full of books simply by bringing my e-reader.  They have their uses…

This poem expresses it well:

“Who hath a book

The parking garage for the Kansas City public library
Hath friends at hand,
And gold and gear
At his command;
And rich estates,
If he but look,
Are held by him
Who hath a book.

“Who hath a book

Hath but to read

And he may be

A king, indeed.

His kingdom is

His inglenook-

All this is his

Who hath a book.”  

― Wilbur D. Nesbit

My book Covers – Updated

Since Kindle covers are hard to see at the best of times, I’m setting up a gallery of mine in the order of their appearance in my story line:
The City of Refuge,  

the second uploaded was, actually the third one I wrote but the first in the cycle, chronologically.  I recently located its very first appearance in my imagination when I was going through some old notebooks.  I had a notation about an idea for a story – and it grew into The City of Refuge.  One of the main heroes, Lord Nebamun, is one of my all-time favorite characters to write about, and I was delighted to be working with him again in Mourningtide, which was published June 1, 2013.
This story follows one of the great kings of Egypt during a time of grieving, when he learns too late of his oldest son’s death and has to withdraw to deal with it.  Peace and quiet are hard to find, and Seti, the king, finds himself in a small town of artists on the border of the desert.  At one point he has the pleasure of guarding his own tomb, which is under construction.  More urgently, though, is the fact that marauders are targeting the town.  He trains the town in the art of battle.
Pharaoh’s Son

I hung on to Pharaoh’s Son, the third in the cycle (soon to be the fourth, with its ‘prequel’ set to come out in about a year) for a long time.  It is a lively story, the one I enjoyed writing most, and I had wanted to consider what to do with it.  I concluded that Kindle and paperback were best for it, as for my others.  I ran into my first experience of the delicacy required to handle historical fiction involving characters that actually lived.  In the case of Pharaoh’s Son, the names are real, the characters are my own – though I arrived at some insights into the character of Ramesses II during the course of writing about him.  I now have a strong disclaimer at the beginning of my historical novels.

A Killing Among the Dead
Chronologically, this is the last in the Egyptian cycle – and the first one I wrote.  Egypt was rocked by a scandal of tomb-robbing and desecration in the Valley of the Kings.  It happened toward the end of the XXth Dynasty (the last of the Ramesside dynasties) when Egypt was going into eclipse.  The scandal was far-reaching and implicated some of the great mortuary temples along the Nile.  The story came to life for me, and its main character, Wenatef, is the closest I have come to a true tragic hero in the Greek sense.

The Safeguard 

        Lavinia Wheeler had watched as her world had been torn  apart over the past three years When the Civil War comes to her doorstep, her generosity in opening her house as a hospital brings a change in her life far  beyond any blessing she could have dreamed of or asked for.
          Between dealing with the Yankee-hating townsfolk, her former slaves, a passel of wounded  Yankees, a government that takes a dim view of people who aid the enemy, and a  group of raiders that is ravaging the countryside, Lavinia isn’t sure that she  has time to care for herself, much less fall in love.

I have another Civil War novel underway with the tentative title of Crowfut Gap.  Another, The Bones, has its roots in the Civil War and involves events set in motion then, but it is set in the present.  The Safeguard features two of my ancestors, who appear as Union foragers…

The Orphan’s Tale

 Set in Paris in the autumn of 1834, The Orphan’s Tale is my newest book. 

‘Autumn is beautiful in 1834 Paris. But to Chief Inspector Paul Malet,   raised in a prison by the greatest master criminal in French history  the season’s splendor is overlaid by a sense of gathering danger: something is afoot.

‘When Malet learns that Victoria, England’s young Heiress Apparent, will be traveling to Paris at Christmas for a state visit, all  becomes clear. Her assassination on French soil would shatter the accord between France and England. And war can be a profitable business for those criminals daring enough to mold events to suit their own purposes.’

 This is a trilogy, with the second book set to be released next year.  While the cover for #2 is problematic (do I use the hero’s portrait – in which case I have to find it or the villain’s?  I don’t like the villain.  Decisions, decisions…)  I do have a projected cover for book #3: