Six Weeks


I will be releasing Mourningtide in six weeks – April 30, to be precise.  I am posting the current cover, but I have a newer design that will be posted a little closer to release.

It has been an enjoyable story to write.  I am often sad when I finish a project like this.  I will be seeing a favorite character for the last time – he appears only as a memory in the next installment.  And at the end of the next one I will be saying good-bye to my favorite character, ever.
Here is the older cover: 

Sample chapters are HERE

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.

The Hyphen is Mighty Indeed


I just threw out five brand new copies of one of my books that I had ordered for a GoodReads giveaway.   They were free, a  perk for finishing NaNoWriMo.


I  had updated the book’s cover.  When you do that, you have to resubmit the text.  And there was the rub:  there had been a problem with the text: my laptop had been stolen, and with it my final version of that manuscript.  (Yeah, I know.  I’m backing everything up now.)

It’s easy to retrieve the text of a Kindle book, and I retrieved the MS that way, plugged it into the book setup, did a perfunctory final text check – the text had been fine before, and I had simply updated the cover image – and gave the go-ahead.  Then I ordered my five copies for the giveaway.
I’m beta testing a new feature for manuscript editing on CreateSpace.  It’s a good feature, and since I had this book up in the  program, I went through that manuscript.   I sat back and went to one of my favorite scenes, one toward the end where Ramesses the Great, having extricated himself from arrest ordered by his eldest son, arrives at the palace to get some answers, is denied admittance by an over-zealous servant who isn’t aware who’s waiting outside the door, pulls out all the stops and, in the scene, is questioning the servant, a man he’s known for fifteen years.  The scene is related from the servant’s point of view:
“Let me see if I understand you,” Pharaoh said thoughtfully. He raised one long fingered hand and ticked off the points as he spoke. “One  the Crown Prince has gone haring off to parts unknown. Two  you have no idea where Prince Khaemwaset is, but  three  you do know that he tried to drug his brother, and  four  a spy sent the Crown Prince’s ring back to him as a sign of urgent danger to Prince Khaemwaset. Five  the army is in a state of alert, and  six  the city of Memphis is virtually under siege. Am I correct so far?”

It took me a moment to realize what was wrong with the text. Actually, it doesn’t look so bad, even now, but I’d placed hyphens in to highlight the way Ramesses was ticking off the points on his fingers. And the hyphen between ‘long’ and ‘fingered’ described the sort of fingers he had on his hand. Without it, His Majesty had a long hand equipped with fingers.


It should have looked like this:

“Let me see if I understand you,” Pharaoh said thoughtfully. He raised one long-fingered hand and ticked off the points as he spoke. “One-the Crown Prince has gone haring off to parts unknown. Two-you have no idea where Prince Khaemwaset is, but-three-you do know that he tried to drug his brother, and-four-a spy sent the Crown Prince’s ring back to him as a sign of urgent danger to Prince Khaemwaset. Five-the army is in a state of alert, and-six-the city of Memphis is virtually under siege. Am I correct so far?”

In looking things over I discovered, to my dismay, that the file transfer from Kindle to print had stripped every hyphen from the text.  And I hadn’t caught them.
I started looking for them.  I went to another scene where the servant, newly captured after a battle between Egyptians and Hittites (his country), gives everyone a piece of his mind using a coarse expression that draws a parallel between their sexual propensities and Oedipus’.  (I am not going to quote it here; it’s about an eighth of the way through Chapter XIX; the bottom of page 121 if you have a paperback copy of the book.)
In my defense, the text had been perfect when I sent it to Kindle; the manuscript in my (stolen) laptop had been lost, I had retrieved it (I thought…) and simply plugged it in.  But my father always told me never to make assumptions.
Ultimately, I pulled up the adobe document for the manuscript and manually searched it for hyphens.  When I found one, I went to the manuscript and replaced it.  I was able to do global searches for set expressions, but when I relied solely on that method, checking afterward, I kept stumbling across hyphens that needed to be inserted.  (To be honest, I would never have found Mutallish’ epithet directed at Pharaoh if I’d done a global search and replace for commonly used hyphenated words.)
Things were fixed.  Finally.  It was too late to cancel my order of the printed books.  So what to do about them?
Well, they’re defective.  I’ve read enough diatribes on the subject of defective books, whether self-published or not.  These are all, every one of them, being consigned to the trash.  Sigh.
Lesson Learned.