Posts tagged ‘Egypt’

Neon hieroglyphs and giants with mystical crowns in the Temple of Dendur

Color the Temple: Scene I The light projection project at the New York Metropolitan Museum Temple of Dendura

Color the Temple: Scene I
The light projection project at the New York Metropolitan Museum Temple of Dendura

When I wrote The Red Mirror, I held an image in my mind of the interior of an Egyptian temple far different than anything I’d ever seen in photos or real life. The walls pulsed with a color palette so vivid that the strange giants with human bodies and animal heads with mystical crowns leapt from the stone to dance in the still air.

Here’s a quick excerpt from Chapter Three – The Temple:

Simmering hieroglyphs in colors bright as neon exploded from every surface. Giants with mystical crowns or the heads of animals performed strange rituals in soaring murals painted in vibrant red, yellow and blue.

I resisted leaning my head back to take in the vast ceiling with its elaborate geometric designs, absorbing as much as possible without being obvious. But I couldn’t stop my eyes from traveling everywhere at once.

As if in answer to my imagination begging for manifestation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recreated by magic of light projection what archaeologists believe are the original colors of one vignette in the Temple of Dendur. The scene couldn’t be closer to what I saw in my mind’s eye when my character, for the first time, walks back in time through the shadowy incense-fogged chambers of a temple on the Nile. Of course, in my vision, every square inch of the walls and ceiling throbbed with the same bold colors as you see in the photo.

Although the beautiful Egypto-Roman Dendur Temple relocated from Egypt is about 500 years “younger” than my temple in The Red Mirror, it reflects the stature and majesty of the setting in my novel. There, among the polychromatic neon gods and goddesses, Isenkhebe Nefrusobek (Isis) experiences her first encounter with Egyptian mysticism and sacred sexuality.

See the New York Times article here: NY Times article on Metropolitan Museum of Art Color the Temple Scene I

February 3, 2016 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

Our stay at Mena House, the Giza Plateau and the Great Pyramid

Here you have two photos from an adventure I treasure. The first time I went to Egypt, my husband and I stayed at the historic Mena House, a converted Pasha’s hunting lodge at the feet of the Pyramids. Can you imagine the thrill when we arrived late at night and were ushered into our room? The bell boy threw open the shuttered doors to this heart-stopping vista of the lighted Great Pyramid. I don’t ever remember a thrill greater than that moment. Better than anything I’d ever dreamed.

The Great Pyramid at night from our room at the Mena House, Giza, Egypt.

The Great Pyramid at night from our room at the Mena House, Giza, Egypt.

The following dawn, the growls of camels and shouts of their drivers awoke us. “Yellah! Yellah!” the turbaned men urged with sharp cries.

With no strength or will to tear myself away from the terrace, we ordered a room service feast with hot crusty rolls, thick apricot jam, plump fresh figs, and syrupy black coffee. While Jesper gazes in wonder, the early morning mists melt in the warming sun. Magic. Just plain magic.

My husband Jesper enjoying breakfast on the terrace of our room at the Mena House.

My husband Jesper enjoying breakfast on the terrace of our room at the Mena House.

I hadn’t started my trilogy yet. The Red Mirror was still years in the future, waiting for me to stumble over it in a Las Vegas antique mall. Isis hadn’t spoken to me; she hadn’t shared her story. But the seed was most certainly planted that dawn, on that very terrace, at the old Mena House in the shadow of the eternal Pyramids.

May 10, 2015 at 8:57 pm Leave a comment

Chapter by chapter the story reveals itself

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. 

March 20, 2013 at 1:42 am 2 comments

And at last I arrive in Egypt

For those of you interested in my progress with The Black Scroll, let me say that I’m advancing at a rapid clip. 59,967 words. 185 pages. Ready to start Chapter 29. Ready to visit Alexandria, 130 AD, 15 years after the Great Jewish Revolt that almost burnt the city to the ground.

You might ask how I know the page numbers with such precision.

I gather that I’m an odd duck among writers, as my preferred technique for channeling the story is to manifest the visual form as I create. I write directly into Adobe InDesign. As the words flow onto the page, they look exactly as they will look in final published form. That’s the print version I’m talking about.

Before putting the first word on the first page, I set up the layout, which in the case of The Black Scroll is the same as The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet – the first two novels of the Red Mirror Series. I’ve got the header at the top of the 6×9 facing pages with my name or title, book-specific Egyptian hieroglyph, and page number. The margins are there. The title page has been created.

note: As a reminder – or for those who haven’t seen the print versions – the glyph for The Red Mirror is a snake, typically Pharaonic Egyptian to my mind. The glyph for The Emerald Tablet is the owl – for Athena, the wisest of Greek Goddesses.  The one I have chosen for The Black Scroll is the lion – Rome – Africa.

The print version must be re-formatted for export into Kindle, so thinking logically, I decided to write The Black Scroll directly into the layout I use for the ebook version. It’s the biggest market, after all.

It didn’t work for me. All those lovely graphic details of layout disappear. The process is no longer visual.

After a chapter or two, I gave up and allowed myself the crutch. Didn’t authors of old write with a favorite pen? Or typewriter? I need my print version InDesign layout for the Muses to sing. And so be it.

I’ve got an art degree. What’s wrong with painting with words?

February 11 was the Monday I started – day after Chinese New Year. Today is March 12. Three days from the Ides. Five days from St. Patrick’s Day. Eight days from my 38th wedding anniversary and the spring equinox.

Goodbye Libya. It was quite a ride. Hello Egypt. I can’t wait to see what happens.

March 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm 6 comments

Red Mirror furlough turns into rebirth of SandraOfftheStrip

I had decided to take a month off between the printing of Athena of the Red Mirror Trilogy and the start of Elektra, the third book. I planned to catch up on reading, seeing friends, painting my bedroom and doing lots of research and daydreaming in preparation for the Roman Egypt novel.

But first Egypt, then Libya happened and I was caught up in the birth of new nations. It’s irresistible for me. I love this part of the world. North Africa was my home for a few years. There’s not much about it that I don’t find fascinating.

I had kept http://www.sandraoffthestrip.com barely alive for a couple of years. But I had good standing with Google cause the site has been up since 2007. In my heyday, I had thousands of unique visitors a day from all over the world. I had lost most, of course, but surprisingly still had 600 a day – mostly search engines and spam.

It took Egypt for me to use Facebook. It took Egypt for me to tweet. I’m still not into the phone thing with Twitter, but read hundreds a day online. I’m right on the ground in Libya, following all the news – trying to sort fact from rumor. There are some great tweeters from all over the Middle East.

At the moment, I am concentrating on Libya, while still following events in Egypt closely. Yemen and Bahrain are not far from my thoughts, but I am only one person!

The exciting thing for me personally is that I’ve written over 100 articles since Feb 2. So much for a furlough from writing! What’s immensely gratifying is that my last dozen or so articles are on page 1 of Google. I have two or three that are #1 on page 1. My piece on the Gaddafi sons and their interview with Cristiane Amanpour comes right after ABC news and before Huffington Post.

Of course, it’s all about keywords. But “Saif Gaddafi Amanpour” brings me right up as does “Saadi Gaddafi safari” and “Gaddafi drug jokes.” I’m right at the top with “Safiya Gaddafi wife” and “Gaddafi Amazon Guard.” I could go on, but we all know the internet and Google is fleeting fame, so here today – gone tomorrow.

I didn’t start out reactivating the blog to get high Google rankings. It’s just a pleasant and surprising outcome of a labor of love.

FREE LIBYA!!!

You can follow me on Twitter @LVworldview.

www.sandraoffthestrip.com

February 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm 1 comment

Athena off to the printer

I finished the first reader edition of Athena of Korinth, the 2nd book in the Red Mirror Trilogy, and will email the pdf version off to printer today. It feels really good. I’ll have twenty “first reader” copies printed, wait for their arrival, get them out, and then sit back, biting my nails, waiting for feedback.

Athena of Korinth

The most important input – besides whether they like the story, of course – will be whether or not I should tone down the sex. By “tone down,” I don’t mean eliminate it, but make it less explicit. It’s been a very interesting experience for me. I had no idea there was so much fear and discomfort about sexuality. But I don’t want sex – even though my scenes are often described as tasteful and sensual – to interfere with readers enjoying the story.

I know a couple of women who have not read Isis out of fear. I had thought of giving them a redacted version with black lines through those scenes. It is really very few pages, or even paragraphs, in both Isis and Athena.

I’m looking not only at possible revisions to Isis and Athena (toning down), but also at my approach to Elektra, the third book set in Roman Egypt. The Romans were not nice people in many respects. They certainly had voracious appetites for both sex and violence, often at the same time. The character of Elektra – as I envision her – is a woman fully in charge of her sexuality. She has not  revealed herself to me, but I have strong hints of a dominatrix type. But the sex is only part of the story. It’s about empowerment and a woman using everything she has to survive and control an environment where women have very little value. I’m not that sure things have changed that much.

January 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm Leave a comment

Map of the Nile for the Odyssey of Isis

Here is the map I created for the Odyssey of Isis. Only relevant cities are noted.

June 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

Finished First Draft of “Isis” – first of Red Mirror series

Sandra celebrates finishing 1st draft of Isis in the Red Mirror Series with husband Jesper and Garden Dude David Georgi at writers bench

Yesterday afternoon was a first in my life. I had finished the Egyptian part of my novel on Saturday: plot strings tied up, emotionally satisfying ending.

Isis was set to go back to Las Vegas and I had this panic that I wouldn’t be able to do it – to finish the book.

I needed to get several characters to the right place, set everyone up for the next book, and leave the reader feeling good.

Over dinner my husband and I discussed the men characters as they are incarnated in Las Vegas.

Thanks to his suggestions, I fleshed them out solidly in my mind.  They became real.

I let them germinate on Sunday, played around with some scenes and dialogue, and had Easter dinner with friends. Then Monday, April 5, I sat down and put them in the scenes I had envisioned and let them go at it. By 5:00 pm I finished.

99,539 words – 6 weeks

Isis ended up with a different guy than I intended, but she made her choice.  And there’ s always the next book and the next visit to the past to get another.

I actually cried. It was crazy, but I just had to cry. It was the emotional release of childbirth. No kidding, it was that profound.

My husband and I went for a walk along the ocean and then up to our local cafe for fish tacos and a Corona. They have a Taco Hour special, everything 2 bucks.

Then I put on my Egyptian wig (check out photo) and we cracked a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with our neighbors Carol and David, who have lived Isis with me. David and I meet at the writers bench almost every sunset.

Joy, great joy is the best description I can give.

April 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm 4 comments

How I get in the mood for reincarnation and romance in Ancient Egypt

Just in case you haven’t read enough about my writing space, you can log onto Life in the First Draft.  I go more into detail about the research and what else I do to get in the mood to write about reincarnation and romance in ancient Egypt.

http://lifeinthefirstdraft.blogspot.com/2010/03/getting-in-mood-by-sandra-gore-nielsen.html

This is a new blog spot that features authors and their writing experience.  When you’ve had your fill of me, you can see what others are saying about their writing.

March 9, 2010 at 12:19 am 2 comments

Sandra and Sabrina Writing Space

Sandra and Sabrina writing space

I’ve had several people ask me where and how I write – “how” meaning the creative process.  The “practical how” is that I use a laptop connected to a larger screen so that I can work off of two screens at once.

This photo is of my writing space.  As you can see, a lot is going on.

Egyptian stuff is part of my getting in the mood to write my novel which takes place in modern day Las Vegas and in Ancient Egypt during the Late Period.

You’ll see:

  • colored map of the Nile
  • a photo I took of the shore from a boat on a Nile Cruise
  • several books, including English translations of ancient Egyptian literature and art books on Pharaohnic Egypt
  • the necklace I wear which is a copy of  an original Late Period piece

I’m working on a new cover for Sex and the Zen of Shopping.

  • You will see a couple of printouts hanging above, plus the front cover on the big computer screen which is displaying Photoshop.
  • I’m also considering a slightly new title – something shorter.  Sex Zen and Shopping:  Live Rich by Shopping Smart
  • I’ve been working on the interior and cleaned it up a bit.  It will have less of a “homemade scrapbook” look about it.

The screen saver on my laptop is the view from the front terrace of our house in Shell Beach California.

I love boats. That’s pretty obvious from the photo.

The bookcase contains:

  • My library of cookbooks in English, French and Danish.  You might be able to just see Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking.”  I bought my copy in 1973 at a garage sale in Los Gatos California!
  • copies of  Life Choices:  Navigating Difficult Paths.”  This is an anthology of great stories put together by Judi Moreo and published by her new publishing company Turning Point International.  She’s already at work on the next anthology which will be about putting the pieces back together again.  My contribution to Life Choices is the story of how I  met my husband and shamelessly pursued him. It’s a true story of hitchhiking on land and sea,  taking chances and going after what you want.
  • My many copies of the I Ching
  • Books by female authors written for the female market which I have read in the last few months.  The genre is pretty much romantic fiction of all kinds.  This is part of my research for my new novel.
  • On the top shelf I have copies of books of authors that I know or have met.
  • The small orange book with black binder that’s turned on its side is the scrapbook I kept of my world travels – especially North Africa, Paris, England and Mexico/Central America.  Most of the entries are from the early 70’s.  I’d like to put it into a memoir form.  But right now I am really loving writing fiction.

Non-book items on bookcase:

  • The stone statue on the bookcase is Toltec and over a thousand years old.  It was a wedding gift when we married in Mexico City the first day of spring (March 20) 1975.
  • The briefcase on the top of the book case was a gift from my First Reader (Sex and the Zen of Shopping) Barb Johnston which she gave me at the book launch of Life Choices in January in Las Vegas.
  • The name plaque Sandra Nielsen is from my days as a School Board Trustee 1994-1998.  It reminds me that trying to do good can be very costly personally.  It keeps me from getting involved.  It’s time for someone else to play Joan of Arc.  I admire all politicians even though their politics can make me crazy.  I once heard it said, “In the world of politics, friends come and go, but enemies collect.”  Amen.

You probably didn’t miss my Japanese Zen priest who sits directly over my head and hopefully guides my spirit.  I bought him at a little “antique” shop in 1999 in Shell Beach.  The owner loved his stuff so much and had so much of it that you had to stand at the doorway and point to what you wanted to see.  He also wanted a $20 deposit before he would bring it to you!  Needless to say, he didn’t make a lot of sales.  He was found dead at his desk one morning by his son.  He hadn’t come home the night before.  89 years old and he died of a heart attack in the midst of his beloved treasures.  From the position of his body, it seemed that he put his head down and went to sleep, never to wake up again.  We should all be so blessed!

March 5, 2010 at 7:13 pm 3 comments

Interview for Life Choices Pump Up Virtual Book Tour

Thank you to Pump Up Your Book.  Here is the interview I did for their virtual book tour promotion of Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths published by Turning Point International.

My Wichita Southeast High School graduation picture 1965

Do you remember writing stories as a child or did the writing bug come later?
A: I daydreamed constantly as a child, inventing whole new worlds for myself.  This lasted well into my teens when my device for falling asleep each night was a cinematic adventure I played out in my mind with myself the beautiful and desirable heroine in some far off place in another time.

Creative writing was always my forte in school.  I especially remember one short story in high school about a football player scoring a touchdown which, when read aloud to the class, was declared by all that it could only have been written by an athlete.  That was never me.  I’m afraid of balls.

Do you remember your first published piece?
A:  I certainly do remember my first published piece.  It’s “A True Love Story” in Life Choices – Navigating Difficult Paths.

What do you consider as the most frustrating side of becoming a published author and what has been the most rewarding?
A:  The most frustrating part is getting noticed.  The most rewarding part is getting noticed.

Jesper, my husband of 35 years

Are you married or single and how do you combine the writing life with home life?  Do you have support?
A:  I am most happily married for 35 years.  Of late, my home life has become my writing life and vice versa.  My husband is my biggest supporter and has become a publisher and publicist to help both publish and promote Sex and the Zen of Shopping, my first book.  He is also encouraging me to write my memoir and says to put in all the good sex – and not just with him.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not writing?  Where do you like to vacation?  Can you tell us briefly about this?
A: I love to shop, travel and entertain.  Basically I need to be on the move constantly, whether physically or intellectually.  I can be alone and write for days on end; then I explode and have to cook an elaborate meal, set a beautiful table and enjoy the company of good friends.

I’m not sure I know what a vacation is.  Traveling is how I live in the now.  I used to require traveling to a place where they speak another language or I didn’t feel like I had been anywhere.  I certainly don’t want to see the same restaurants and eat the same kind of food.  But of late I enjoy reconnecting with old friends, who may or may not live in exotic places.

If you could be anywhere in the world for one hour right now, where would that place be and why?
A: I’d be back in Egypt on the Nile in the Rose Suite at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, sitting on the balcony overlooking Elephantine Island, watching the boat traffic and listening to the sounds of the river.  Do I really need to explain why?

Who is your biggest fan?
A: My husband.

Where’s your favorite place to write at home?

View from my house

A: At my dining room table with a view out the picture windows onto the Pacific Ocean.

Library of Alexandria

What’s your favorite library and why?
A: The New Library of Alexandria because of the wonderful coalescence of ancient iconography with modern architecture.

What’s your favorite bookstore and why?
A: Any used book store.  I love getting books for cheap, but I especially love finding all those eclectic, out of print treasures that you didn’t even know existed.

Do you have any pets?
A:  Not now, but if I did, it would be cats – black ones.

Max

What are you reading right now?
A: Just about any book written by women for women that is a best seller or close to it.  I’m reading all genres, but particularly romance and memoirs, trying to figure out if I can write something that will actually sell.

Tell us a secret no one else knows.
A:  I don’t think so.  It wouldn’t be a secret any more.  If it’s worth telling and at all interesting, I want to put it in my next book.

What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
A:  Their energy field.  Sometimes I feel like I see right past the body, although body language tells you almost everything.

Have you ever won anything?
A:  Do elections count?  I garnered a big percent of the vote out of a field of candidates for School Board.  After that, I lost more votes (on the School Board) than I won.  That’s what happens when you are on the side of the students.

What’s on your to do list today?
A:  Complete this Interview Form. Continue working on the Press Kit for my website http://www.sandragorenielsen.com to promote Sex and the Zen of Shopping.  Work on my next book which will be a memoir recounting my travels in North Africa, including a 6 month hitchhiking adventure across the Sahara.  Post an article on my blog www.sandraoffthestrip.com.  Make a lamb and bean tajine for dinner.  Take a walk along the raging ocean.  Take a long bubble bath.

I understand that you are touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion in February/March via a virtual book tour.  Can you tell us all why you chose a virtual book tour to promote your book online?
A:  You have to have a presence everywhere you can, but the internet is where it’s happening.  It will only grow.  Virtual book tours are one of the ways that you have a chance to break through if you’re not connected to one of the big publishing houses that have things sewn up in the conventional channels of distribution and publicity.

January 24, 2010 at 6:24 pm 2 comments


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