SONG OF THE NILE New Release With Excerpt

SongoftheNileFinalI’m happy to announce the release of my paranormal romance novel Song of the Nile! This is a standalone sequel to Lady of the Nile and features Merneith the musician and Nikare the Medjai, who readers first met as secondary characters. Cover art by Fiona Jayde.

Here’s the official blurb: 

Merneith, a harpist of rare talents, blessed by the goddess Hathor, has recently arrived in Thebes and joined Pharaoh’s court, but must hide secrets from her past. As she settles into her new life in the palace, the one man she can’t forget and followed to Thebes is unaccountably absent.

Nikare, a Medjai police officer serving under Pharaoh’s direct orders, is now deep undercover investigating high crimes against Egypt and forbidden to contact Merneith. Masquerading as a priest to deceive the plotters, he watches over her from afar and longs for the day he can approach her openly.

When an unscrupulous noble ensnares Merneith in the web of evil Nikare is pledged to bring down, the two must stand together against earthly and magical forces to save their own lives and protect Egypt.

How much help will the gods provide? Will the pair survive the final showdown between Pharaoh and the conspirators and find the happy future together they desire?

This is a standalone novel but is also a direct sequel to Lady of the Nile, which is where Merneith and Nikare were first encountered as supporting characters. Now they move front and center in the fight to protect Egypt from a new threat. Mild spoilers for Lady of the Nile.

The excerpt, as Merneith meets the Master of Musicians in Pharaoh’s palace:

“You must be my new musician, selected for me by the queen based on Hathor alone knows what qualifications but, of course, the Great One’s choices cannot be less than perfect.”

Merneith puzzled over his remark, which had the tone of being a criticism of the queen, and probably a slur on her as well. In her position she couldn’t afford to take offense or let her annoyance show. She opted to keep her own remarks to a minimum. “I was told to report to you at noon, sir.”

“Promptness is admirable.” With a sniff, he walked toward the room containing the selection of instruments. “Well, come on. What can you play?”

She hastened to follow him. “I’m a harpist but can also play lutes and lyres.”

He halted just inside the room and waved a hand at the waiting instruments. “Select one, tune it, and we’ll hear how well you play.”

Swallowing hard, she passed him to walk among the harps, nearly knocking over a stand of cymbals as she went, barely catching the rack before it toppled. There were four standing harps to choose from. The first she ruled out immediately, as the wood was dry and showing fine cracks. The second looked like a possibility but as she plucked a string to test the sound, she could tell the leather in the soundboard was of poor quality. The third one was a gracefully designed harp, with a lotus flower at the top and pretty shell-and-turquoise inlay along the bottom third.

“Come now, surely at least one of my poor offerings will meet with the approval of a harpist from the desert,” Khesuwer said, his tone impatient and condescending. “Take that one, girl, and let us proceed. I use the one you’re examining often for giving lessons to the daughters of noblemen.”

Merneith altShe ignored him. Choosing the right instrument was critical and although the harp she was examining was pretty to the eye, the angle of the wooden piece looked wrong to her, not by much but enough to send her to the last possibility. This harp had been sadly neglected, the wood needing a good polishing but, once she leaned it against her body and plucked a run of five notes, relief  was a cool breeze in her heart. Out of tune but true. Merneith had begun to fear Khesuwer was trying to rid himself of an unwanted musician by giving her only inferior choices when it came to an instrument.  She tightened the strings, worrying over a few of them which clearly needed replacing. She sent Hathor a small prayer they’d last through this test.

“This one is fine.” She thought Khesuwer nodded slightly, as if she’d passed his first test for her. “Am I to play in here?”

“Don’t tell me you disdain my fine chamber in the royal palace?” His voice was full of sarcasm.

I can’t let him upset me. I need this job. Chief Scribe Edekh had been clear she’d always have the pension granted to her but the lodging and food were attached to the position as a musician and the unpleasant Master was the gatekeeper. Since he hadn’t specified a song, she chose an ode to Hathor, goddess of music. The harp wasn’t quite tuned as yet, but she made a good attempt at the hymn and was pleased as the final notes sounded. Playing steadied her nerves.

“Rather an old version of the music,” Khesuwer said, nose in the air, sneering at her. “I suppose there was no more current material in your rural home.”

“No, we were limited and learned from our elders,” she said. On this point she had no defense and no pride to be hurt.

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Tuya and Merneith covers canva

Lady of the Nile Buy Links:

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entire series canva updated JAN 2019

 

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LADY OF THE NILE PRISM Award Finalist

lady of the nile

Cover by Fiona Jayde

Earlier this week I was really honored and excited to receive a phone call telling me that Lady of the Nile, my 7th paranormal romance set in ancient Egypt, had been selected as a Finalist in the Romance Writers of America Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter’s PRISM Award!

That’s exciting stuff to a writer in the FF&P romance genres…see the full list of Finalists in all categories here. Congratulations to everyone whose book Finalled! Winners will be announced at the national conference in July.

I write my ancient Egyptian tales as a labor of love – not that I don’t love my scifi romance books because I DO and those are my main focus and genre – but the reader audience for ancient world romance tends to be smaller, without much crossover between the SFR genre and this one. I’ve often written about how the YA novel Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw first inspired me to want to write tales set in the far past. I was further inspired by seeing the King Tut exhibit many years ago, which included the amazing golden mask. And then there’s my favorite 1950’s ‘B” movie, ‘Princess of the Nile’.

Mara_Daughter_of_the_NileMy titles are an homage to McGraw’s book in fact (“…of the Nile”). I read that novel in elementary school, still have a copy and reread it periodically. (I also named the heroine in Wreck of the Nebula Dream ‘Mara’.) So when I place myself in ancient Egypt it’s a complete change of pace for me from my futuristic stories and a fun challenge as an author.

I try to put myself in the head of a person who might have lived then, and I make sure the gods and goddesses are present and involved in the daily lives of the people, as the ancients believed and hoped they were. As the reviewers at Dear Author said of Ghost of the Nile (itself an award winner): “There’s Egypt and gods and magic and strong men and stronger women and love even beyond death and into the Afterlife. The historic details add spice throughout the story and these definitely aren’t 21st C people in linen kilts.”

My heroes are usually the Special Forces men of their day – Pharaoh’s Own Guard, which is a unit I created (tell me Pharaohs didn’t have their own elite guard forces!) – strong, tough, smart, loyal…and the heroines are priestesses, healers, land owners…in ancient Egypt women could play many significant roles and my women carry on that tradition.

VS_PriestessOfTheNile

Cover by Frauke of Croco Designs

And of course Priestess of the Nile was my first published book, thanks to Carina Press. So the ancient Egyptians have been very good to me as well. I think of the Crocodile God Sobek as my special good luck charm, since he was the hero in that book.

There was even some serious Hollywood interest in making Priestess into a movie! Although that never came to fruition, like so many failed projects in the entertainment world but still…never say never.

I recently received the best compliment ever from a reader, who sent me a message that she’d been to the current King Tut exhibit at an LA museum and was amazed how familiar to her all the items and the various gods and goddesses seemed because she’d read my novels.  (My books are set about 300 years after the time of Tut.) That was a fun and deeply satisfying thing to hear as an author! I have a page on this blog devoted to my approach to historical accuracy...I’m not writing ‘historical novels’ but I do my best to infuse the time and place into the books as thoroughly as I can.

The story:

Tuya, a high ranking lady-in-waiting at Pharaoh’s court, lives a life of luxury, pageantry and boredom. Khian, a brave and honorable officer from the provinces temporarily re-assigned to Thebes, catches her eye at a gold of valor ceremony. As the pair are thrown together by circumstances, she finds herself unaccountably attracted to this man so unlike the haughty nobles she’s used to. But a life with Khian would mean leaving the court and giving up all that she’s worked so hard to attain. As she goes about her duties, Tuya struggles with her heart’s desires. 

When Tuya is lured into a dangerous part of Thebes by her disgraced half-brother and kidnapped by unknown enemies of Egypt, Khian becomes her only hope. Pharaoh assigns him to bring the lady home. 

Aided by the gods, Khian races into the desert on the trail of the elusive kidnappers, hoping to find Tuya before it’s too late. Neither of them has any idea of the dark forces arrayed against them, nor the obstacles to be faced. An ancient evil from the long gone past wants to claim Tuya for its own purposes and won’t relinquish her easily. 

Can Khian find her in time? Will he and his uncanny allies be able to prevent her death? And if the couple escapes and reaches safety, what of their fledgling romance?

Buy Links:

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canva all 7 books corrected

 

Six Sentence Sunday!

Continuing with excerpts from Priestess of the Nile, out from Carina Jan 23rd

I wonder if I’ll ever see him again.

Merys tipped herhead to the sky, as if asking the moon goddess to provide an answer. Oh, girl, you are too foolish. Your Crocodile God sends you a handsome man with whom to while away a few hours, which has never happened before, ever, yet you are greedy for more.

Gritting her teeth, she yanked the load off the ground and walked faster, suddenly eager to get home and fall into her bed. Maybe I can dream of Bek.

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Six Sentence Sunday

From Warrior of the Nile, currently out on submission

Khenet, a warrior of  ancient Egypt, is assigned by Pharaoh to journey down the Nile as bodyguard to Tiya, a noblewoman who has been selected by the goddess Nepthys to help her put a stop to black magic threatening all Egypt. Tiya is to die in the attempt and Khenet will also perish. Attraction sparks between the lady and her warrior:

“What kind of woman takes her beloved to his death?”

He shushed her gently, finger on her lips. “We are not going to think of those subjects tonight. The magic in these temple walls holds our fate at bay. Here, there is just you and me.” He leaned forward and kissed her, his tongue sliding between her parted lips to explore the depths of her warm mouth, tangle with her eager tongue.

 

Why Egypt?

Why am I so attracted to setting my stories in a paranormal version of ancient Egypt?

Two historical novels were a big influence on me when I was young – Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton. I loved the idea of times past and the exciting things that happened to people then.

And then one day I stood by the side of King Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus, gazing down into the eyes of the boy king, as depicted in the amazing golden mask…Years ago when things were much less formal, my employer at the time was a major sponsor of the King Tutankhamen traveling exhibit and I got to spend an hour virtually alone in the museum. Obviously I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, not with burly guards at every turn, but I could literally stand right next to the items and look my fill, unimpeded by plexiglass.

The golden funerary objects were stunning but I was equally fascinated by the everyday possessions and furniture in the exhibit, all created with fanciful and amusing details. Everything I saw spoke to me eloquently of the ancient Egyptian people who believed so fiercely in their gods and the promised Afterlife. I had the feeling of stepping back in time for a moment.

And the jewelry! Can we just say I craved all of it?

So when I’m writing about my characters, I can close my eyes and put myself back in that museum room, surrounded by the actual trappings of ancient Egyptian life.

I’m irresistibly drawn to their pantheon of gods, each with so many aspects and unique characteristics, some anchored to one specific place and time, others more universally worshiped. It’s intriguing as an author to imagine how these Great Ones of Egypt would interact with the characters, from Pharaoh to the lowliest baker’s apprentice. What if all the things the Egyptians believed were true? What if you could find yourself singing for the Crocodile God or fighting alongside Horus the Falcon? Receiving advice and comfort from Hathor? Being judged by Lady Ma’at and Anubis? Petitioning Osiris and Isis for help?

And the adventures – and romance – begin there….