Posts filed under ‘Sandra's Comments’
Maybe it’s the meltdown in Libya that urged me on. The revolution in 2011 certainly inspired the book. Part One is set in Roman and modern Libya with explicit scenes from ancient Leptis Magna followed by Isis’ revisit in modern times where she comes face to face with the militias.
Completing my saga of Isis and her reincarnations in ancient Egypt, The Black Scroll is set in Roman North Africa during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. If you’re familiar with the other two books, you’ll know that the first novel, The Red Mirror, takes place in the days of the last Egyptian Pharaoh on the dawn of the Persian invasion. Book Two, The Emerald Tablet, explores Greek Egypt, especially Alexandria, under the rule of Ptolemy.
As always, the story of modern Isis continues through all three books. I confess to being easily bored; I hunger for travel and adventure. The Red Mirror Series is my chance to share my rich life experience of languages, food, art, religion and history. I’m excited to take you back to the past, but I’m equally thrilled to take you to Las Vegas, New York, Copenhagen, Malta and London – all places I know well and love.
My books don’t fit into one genre. They reflect my eclectic mind and life. Adventure, romance, intrigue, mystery, mysticism, sex, time travel, history, thriller…these are all hastags I could use. You won’t be able to put the Red Mirror Series into a category. But I believe you’ll have a wild ride.
June 24 was the day I “finished” The Black Scroll. I put ‘finished’ in quotation marks because I’m starting the edit.
But the story is told. It is out of my imagination and now exists in the concrete world of words down on paper. Paper in this case is a digital format, but you get what I mean.
Whew! What a mind-bending experience. I had to pinch myself this morning. I did it! I wrote the trilogy that I’ve envisioned since 2010. The stories of Isis, Athena and Elektra.
There’s been months of hiatus here and there. The Arab Spring starting with Egypt and continuing through Libya. The remix of Isis to Isis Erotica and Isis BeachRead. Family trials and tribulations of late. You know – life getting in the way.
More intricate and involved with a much wider scope than The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet, The Black Scroll took a tremendous expenditure of psychic energy to tell. The Romans weren’t nice people. I was juggling memories of four lifetimes with recurring characters. I wanted to wrap everything up – cross all the t’s, dot all the i’s, tie up loose ends.
It’s a longer book, which may or may not remain so after the editing. But I have a feeling it will. The story is complex and action-filled. At least I hope so. It is in my mind, anyway. A fellow author said satisfyingly, “The monumental third volume.” I like the sound of that.
I’ve promised a couple of people to be first readers, and I haven’t forgotten that pledge. I’ll do an edit and then print a few draft copies for distribution.
In the meantime, I’m gonna savor my thrill. There’s not many moments in a lifetime like this.
Doesn’t look very glamorous, and not my greatest photography, but here’s a shot of my workstation for writing The Black Scroll.
Hope you’ll notice the height and no chair. After some back problems from sitting in front of a computer all day, I elected to write standing up.
I’ll admit it took a little getting used to, but I seem to have come over the hump. My brain’s working; the Muses are singing.
The screen on the left is the book itself as I write in InDesign. The laptop screen has my Excel spreadsheet with research including the 500+ quotes I’ve collected. I also do frequent Google searches to research details and fact check.
The eyes of the woman on the screen are Elektra, protagonist of Book Three. The pink towel between the two banker boxes is for my cat who sometimes sleeps there while I write.
Stack of books? Hadrian, The Roman Cavalry, Atlas of Classical Archaeology (for city plan of Leptis Magna) and Sex and Society in Greco-Roman Egypt. Under it all is a binder containing pages of notes.
Hanging above the work station is a photo I took on the Nile, a movie poster from ‘The Eagle’, a map of the Ancient Nile Delta and a map of the Mediterranean. To the left is a printout of an email from my friend Ann Calhoun with much appreciated (and always needed) words of encouragement.
On the far left, taped to a book shelf, is a printout of my favorite cover – but one I’m not using. It’s the Red Mirror with Isis’ eye. I opted for another cover to make the series more identifiable and the covers more cohesive. Could never repeat, no matter how hard I tried, the power of that Eye.
In case you have trouble making out details, standing on the shelf above my head are two sailing ship models, a bust of Aphrodite, Nefertiti’s head, a statuette of Athena my daughter brought me from Greece, a sitting Japanese sage, a carved wooden “Old Salt,” and a bronze figure of Shiva. Oh! don’t want to forget the brass falcon head of a shoehorn.
On the desk always my cup of black tea with milk – or my snifter of brandy or scotch depending on time of day.
The Black Scroll – 84,433 words as of yesterday. 38 Chapters. 261 pages.
People ask me how I write. The mechanics of it. Some authors apparently work 8 hours. Some work with the goal of 1,000 words a day. A chapter a day is my goal. That’s an average of 1500-2000 words, although a long chapter can be 3,000 words. New material.
I can do it in 2-3 hours if it’s action and dialogue. If there’s a lot of detail, special terminology, or facts I want to present in a way that’s not lecturing, it takes me longer. Of course, I usually spend time editing the new material the day I write. That’s on top.
But before I take The Black Scroll into the next part of the story, I go back over the chapter from the day before, beefing up certain parts, sucking as much emotion and eliciting as much drama as I can from every scene. Sometimes I have to do more research, like what kind of weapon would a young Libyan thuwar use – or what handgun would the General gift to Isis?
Then, when I think I’ve got a tight chapter that I’m pretty happy with, I go to my new blank page.
It’s not blank though. It says Chapter 29, for example, followed by XXXXX. On the next line is xxxxx which is a holder for the appropriate Roman quote I’ll plug in. Following that is a new paragraph ‘XXXX.’ This is where the new material begins. The story continues.
I seldom know the title of the chapter until I’ve written a while. Maybe halfway, maybe even to the end. Many authors don’t title their chapters, but I do. I think of each as mini-stories with their own lives. It seems fitting that they should be named, given their own identities.
Sometimes I know right away what quote I’ll use. When that happens, the quote guides the story. If not, from the list of 550 quotes I’ve collected, I find the one that communicates the theme of the chapter I’ve just written. But more often than not, the quote guides me, perhaps acting as a conduit to my sub conscience.
For it is my belief that the sub conscience is the source – the ever-flowing well-spring – of my stories. Where does the sub conscious get the stories? My past? A collective past? Or is fantasy the result of a kind of cosmic alchemy that blends everything I’ve ever read or heard or experienced into my own personal Akashic records? I can’t say with certainty. But almost any writer should say something similar. If they’re honest. If they write original material.
So I have more questions than answers. Pretty typical for me. But so far, it’s working. O Muses! Continue to sing!
BTW, I’m at about 72K words and ready to start page 220, Chapter 33.