Celebrating – A Task Finished


SMALL CELEBRATIONS
It’s good to be able to open your eyes to the things around you that are worth celebrating, even if they are as small (relatively speaking) as a smile from a stranger that you know would easily become a friend.  Stepping into a brisk May breeze, watching the flowers push their way through the soil, even though you know jolly well you’re a terrible gardener.
Today, though, I’m celebrating completing a task I’d been thinking of for a long time.


I’m writing a series of historical fiction set in Egypt and centered around the city of Memphis.  It is known as ‘The Memphis Cycle’, and that city, and the families that lived and ruled there, provide the thread that ties the stories together.  Three are published, one is  coming out the end of May, another should be coming out in November, and four others are in varying stages of development.  
 
Here are covers 1 & 2.  #2 is scheduled to be published May 31:
 
 
The covers fell into a sort of theme – statuary or sculptures against a background that referred to something in the story.  As the series developed, I began to want them to be visible as a related group.  So I redesigned them, keeping the original ‘art’ work, but putting that into a framework specific to the stories..  These are covers #3 and 4.  #3 is projected to be published November.
 

The line under the image is a hieroglyphic text with the name and attributes of the king ruling at the time of the story.  It seems to be working out.  Here are covers 5 and 6.  #5 is in the works, but it is an involved story and will need another year (maybe two) to complete properly.  #7 is out. 

 

 

What really tickles me is that my entire family is artistic and I guess maybe I can pretend to be. (Pretend is the word, too.) For example, while I work with photographic images for my covers, the figure crouching in the corner of Lord of the Two Lands is my own work and is a silhouette drawing. But I’m celebrating, for certain. It’s something I’ve wanted to do in a long time, and it’s coming on the heels of a new release and a reissue.

So join me in a cup of cyber tea, a glass of cyber wine, a stoup of cyber ale, or maybe some cyber lemonade. I’m celebrating!

 

In The Works – Lord of the Two Lands


This is from a story with the tentative title Lord of the Two Lands.  It takes place two hundred years after Pharaoh’s Son.  I had a strong idea of a character (years ago) and jotted down some things.  I had an idea, suddenly, for a scene, wrote it (or risk forgetting it) and the story has taken off.  Alas, it is on ‘the back burner’ because I must finish Mourningtide, which is going well.  But still…  It’s delightful to know that the springs have not run dry.
This takes place after a battle.  The king has been captured by rebels, who are holding him in a courtyard.  Herihor, who is to all intents and purposes the de facto  ruler of southern Egypt, has just arrived at the end of the fighting.  He has  found Pharaoh where he is being held. 

Herihor stopped and stared. 

A torch lay in a shallow pottery bowl, spilling light across the wall’s carved relief: Pharaoh lunged forward, his fist clenched on his foe’s upraised arm, the swing of his war mace caught at the moment before it descended. Movement – emotion: Pharaoh triumphant. It was magnificent, vibrant, awe-inspiring, from the king’s jutting jaw to the despairing faces of his foes. The dynamic thrust of the leg, driving into the ground, brought his eyes down in a diagonal to a figure at the carving’s feet.
 
 

A man stood half-collapsed against the wall, his shoulder against it, his lowered head turned toward it, catching the lingering warmth of the stone in the fading day. As Herihor watched, the man pushed away, staggering a little, and looked up at the carving.


The thought came unbidden: A flame cast by a shadow.

 

He had made some slight noise. The man glanced over his shoulder and then turned to face him with raised head. His hands and arms were bound behind him, wrist and elbow. They had not been gentle with the ropes. He was pale with exhaustion, blood was caked in his hair and sweat made lighter streaks in his dusty face, but the black eyes that traveled scornfully from Herihor’s feet to his face were as sharp as Herihor remembered. “You, too,” he said.


The contempt in his voice made Herihor wince as he moved forward. “Sire-“


Pharaoh frowned. “Will you spare my troops?” he asked.

 

Herihor stared. Blood was trailing from the side of the man’s mouth and he saw the dark smudge of a bruise at the side of his face.

 

Pharaoh tried to shake the hair from his eyes. “I am defeated: I admit it. How can I not? Do with me as it pleases you. My only request is this: those soldiers that fought for me, those cities and temples that assisted me, did so out of loyalty to their king. I beg you: do not fault them or punish them when you set up your–your dynasty. They will love you and yours all the more for that.”

 

The gallant generosity of that speech made Herihor pause and look down. He drew his dagger after a moment and stepped forward.


Pharaoh watched the knife leave its sheath. He lifted his chin and faced Herihor more fully.

In with the new…


I have at least two projects underway in any given time.  This has several benefits:

  1. It helps to minimize the strange sense of grieving I suffer from when I’ve finished a story and am no longer dealing with a group of characters that I have come to love.  I remember I received this advice years ago from an editor.  “Never have only one work in the pipeline,” she told me.  “It’ll help you cope with finishing a work.”  I learned the hard way that she was right. 
  2. It helps to minimize writer’s block.  I think it’s sometimes the result of working too intensively on a specific project to the exclusion of everything else.  It is an excellent way to burn out.  Switch off to something fresh and you can catch your breath, and regain your stride.
  3. It will give you an excuse not to work on something.  Actually, this isn’t a benefit.


At the moment I’m finishing the first draft of Mourningtide.  I’m also working on Crowfut Gap, a novel set in Civil War Virginia, near the West Virginia border.  There’s another Egyptian story, The Jubilee, which I started a few years back.  It’s moving along slowly as things occur to me and I jot them down.

Lately I have been going back to a period that is slightly after A Killing Among the Dead.  Ranefer is the last of his line, a family decimated by a systemic ailment that has killed them one after another, leaving only him, the third son of a king, the brother of two kings and the uncle of another.  Egypt is crumbling; What is to be done if you are Lord of the Two Lands, and The Two Lands has forgotten that it has a Lord?

It is a bittersweet story (in its current shape) and puts an unusual twist on history as we know it.

The twist came to me as I was driving the three hundred odd miles home from Upstate New York.   I think it may work.  It might help if I stopped blogging and typed it, but I can mull it over a little more…

Only 6,800 words currently, but it should grow nicely – once I really start working on it.