Posts tagged ‘Elektra’

Standing up to write The Black Scroll

Here's where I'm writing The Black Scroll. Notice my makeshift high desk so I can stand?

Here’s where I’m writing The Black Scroll. Notice my makeshift high desk so I can stand?

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.

Here I am working on this very blog post.

Here I am working on this very blog post.

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.

March 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm 5 comments

How the Arab Spring has influenced my third book, The Black Scroll

It occurred to me that I’m supposed to be writing here about writing. I haven’t done a very good job with that, so am striving to make some course corrections.

At long last, I got the courage to start writing Elektra’s story. I’ve thought a lot about why it’s taken me so long. Was it fear of writing itself? Of not having any more ideas? Or was it fear of the story that Elektra has to tell?  Now that I have begun, I know that this is a story I couldn’t have told without going through the experience of Arab Spring.

You may ask what the Arab Revolution has to do with ancient Roman Egypt? Well, for starters, I wouldn’t have thought to begin the book in Leptis Magna, which is outside of Tripoli, Libya. At least, I don’t think I would have. I will never know, of course, because I chose the path I am on. No one can say where another path would have lead me.

I don’t think  Elektra would go off to the Nafusa Mountains to learn the Sacred Arts (magic – or black magic, if you prefer to use its power in that way) if I hadn’t followed battles there during the Libyan Revolution via twitter. I wouldn’t have realized how ancient the Imazighen people are. That’s “Berbers” to those who don’t know that the truly native (non-Arab) North African prefers to be called an Amazigh (singular). Their language is properly known as Tamazight and remarkably close to the language spoken in ancient Egypt.

But I have diverged. There’s more to the Arab Spring influence on my writing than geography. Until I lived the stories coming out of Libya, Egypt and Syria, I had no real understanding of brutality. I knew about it intellectually. I’ve done extensive research on the Roman Empire. I studied Latin years ago. I’ve seen almost every film made on ancient Rome. But there was something about the modern brutality I experienced through twitter that simply brought ancient horrors to life.

When I was writing a couple of scenes, which I believe I portrayed with just enough detail that you can use your imagination to make more graphic if you please, I reminded myself that things much worse happen every day, right now. “No,” I tell myself.  “It’s not over the top.” It happened. Far worse things happened. And it was institutionalized – an accepted part of culture and life.

The Black Scroll, after 27,000 words, deals so far with slavery, the power of magic – perceived or real – and of course, Elektra. Isis has gone back through the Red Mirror to her incarnation in 130 AD, the time of Hadrian. If the book evolves as the other two, I’m not quite a third of the way into the story.

It’s been intense. This book is very different from The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet, which are actually different from each other. I think that a trilogy is usually a continuing story with very similar drama. So perhaps it is appropriate, after all, that I have re-titled the group as Red Mirror Series.  The modern story is the continuing thread that binds them together. And the characters, of course. The reincarnating circle of souls.

I’d like to think that each book can be read separately. I tried to write them that way. I’ve had some feedback from readers who started with The Emerald Tablet and report enjoying it very much with no issues of ‘feeling lost.’

Elektra‘s story has begun with new characters in key roles. That’s just the way she’s telling it. My impression as I leave ancient Libya to make for Egypt, is that Hektor, the General, Antinous and River God will soon take center stage.

BTW, you’ll notice that I don’t have a new name for River God, aka Black Falcon. I’m waiting for him to reveal himself.

February 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm 1 comment

raiannon rages and paces for Elektra

              Draft cover for Elektra

At the risk of being too personal and exposing to the world how pathetically needy I am, I want to share a really delectable moment. Quite out of the blue – or should I say cyberspace? – came an email alert of a comment to this site.

“Do we have any sort of ETA on Elektra?” – raiannon

My first reaction was “Wow. Somebody cares!”

I gave a gushy response asking if she/he would like to be a First Reader for Elektra and ending with “I guess it depends on why you are asking, doesn’t it?”

What I got back was a “review” for which I would gladly have paid. Yes, I’ve heard lots of rumors about that sort of thing…

“I’m asking because I loved the first two whole books, with their unique twist on a typical time travel novel. I was absolutely thrilled with the tie-ins between the past life found in the mirror and the current one. But the worst part of reading a series is always waiting for the next book! A good series novel has something that leaves you wanting at the end…wanting the next book. A great series novel (for a series in progress) leaves you pacing your apartment, raging at the author for not writing faster! I would be greatly honored to be a First Reader for you.”

Now I don’t know who raiannon is – at least, I don’t think I do. I actually asked my husband, “Do you think this is one of my friends trying to cheer me up?”

Thank you, raianoon, whoever you are. Rage on! I’ll do my best to make Elektra worth the pacing.

September 26, 2012 at 4:27 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

I just read Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire

I wanted to see what all the buzz is about. I wanted to see what readers like – what turns them on for the trilogy to stay at the top of Amazon’s best sellers. 
note: I chose the second book because my daughter said it was better than the first – “a real page turner.”

elements:
computer hacking
defection of Russian spy
inner circle government conspiracy
criminal and journalistic investigation
sex trade
brutality towards women (even in Sweden!)
child pornography and abuse
explicit violence and implicit sex
motorcycle gangs and drugs
heroine has unlimited money
heroine is a dominatrix-type who ties men up (there’s a lot of tying up over all – bondage theme)
lots of video game type action that goes on without relief

Wow – no wonder it sells!

What struck me most was that the female protagonist Lisbeth Salamander gets rave reviews from men. I wonder if that’s because she is as little like a woman as possible, while still having all the right parts? Is it a fascination with girl-women? Or are men secretly attracted to a dominatrix who puts them in their place?

I’ve been doing a lot of research for Elektra, exploring the Roman fascination with death in the arena. “Kill! Kill! Kill!” Nothing was apparently too horrible or bloody for them to cheer and enjoy. They, too, liked lots of leather.

That dark part of our psyche is now channeled into shooter games and TV shows like Criminal Minds.  We love the graphic autopsies on CSI. Law and Order Sexual Victims Unit had higher ratings than plain old Law and Order. How many crime and police programs are on every night? We want to hear all the details in sexy murder cases. We really love Nancy Grace if a child is both missing and abused. A movie like Inception gets nominated for an Academy Award when most of the film is permutations of automatic gunfire.

Is it because we can’t all go to war and experience the horrors firsthand that we want to watch others suffer through a protective veil of fiction? What is our fascination with vampires, werewolves and creatures of the night? Why is the human psyche so dark? We know it can be light too.

By the way, I’m not knocking Larsson’s success. I would love to emulate it. He does great character development; his players are real, although they do fall into the white hat and black hat categories. But that’s ok. He’s not literary fiction, but a good read if you like to teeter on the edge of the dark side.

February 17, 2011 at 12:20 am 2 comments

2011 – It’s a new year and a new incarnation for Isis

I’m starting my “out loud read” of Athena today. It’s the last step before putting it in .pdf and sending to print for my First Reader Edition. The cover is done; the map, the glossary and the layout are done. Book Two of the Red Mirror Trilogy is almost there – at least the first go round. Having said that, who knows how long a first read through can take. You can really get stuck on the first few chapters or so. You really weren’t in the swing; you didn’t really know the characters yet. It’s all kind of stilted and artificial compared to the rest of the book.

I like her – Athena’s smarter and more directed than Isis the party girl. The modern Isis is evolving; she’s learning to take charge of her own life. She’s learning about her own power. She learns from Athena, but Athena learns from her. Athena takes a lot more risks than she would have.

As soon as Athena’s back from the printer, I’ll get it out to my select group of First Readers for input.
Not until then can I let myself start on the third book  – at least the mental part of research and daydreaming.
Elektra has been knocking on the door and I keep pushing her away – “Not yet! Too early! Can’t go to Rome now!”

I work from such an intuitive level than I can’t really write unless I am channeling. It’s too forced otherwise. I can’t channel two characters at once – at least, I don’t think so.

Elektra scares me a little (actually a lot). I’m going to have to dig deep into places I don’t know about – or have only heard of.  Will I find my black swan?

January 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm 2 comments


Follow me on Twitter!

Flickr Photos

Recent Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,487 other followers


%d bloggers like this: