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

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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

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