Blogging at USA Today HEA About Anxiety, Ancient Egypt and Me

HEAApril is National Anxiety Month (and probably some other “National Months” too, so many topics need attention)…so I’ve written a special column over at USA Today Happily Ever After blog on this subject.

Now I’m strictly a  layperson, but as I understand it, almost everyone suffers stress and anxiety from time to time in our modern world. There are plenty of things to stress a person in the normal day – commuting to work, the big meeting with the boss or client, the final exam, making a speech etc. Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with a person’s everyday life.

In my house, we call it “Mama’s feeling tense”, which can be quite an understatement at times. But I’m happy to say it isn’t all the time, every day either! Everyone has their own health challenges –  I have migraines, asthma and oh, anxiety attacks. None of the three things is 24 hours of the day, seven days a week, thank goodness, and there’s stuff I can do to alleviate each one when it comes on.  Now I’m not trying to make light of the topic, not in the least. After a near fatal car crash on the way to work one morning, I became subject to anxiety attacks, particularly when I had to drive. Especially when I had to drive to work along the same route where I had my accident!

I pretty much avoid that particular bridge on the 605 freeway every time I can, even after all these years.

MagicOfTheNile_1600x2400Now I’m not my characters and they aren’t me, but when I was writing my latest novel, MAGIC OF THE NILE, I realized the adult heroine Tyema had been through a very stressful series of events as a child, when the enemy had invaded her village, killed a number of people she knew and kidnapped her. (These events form part of the plot of my first novel PRIESTESS OF THE NILE, about Tyema’s older sister.)  It wasn’t believable that Tyema wouldn’t have some lingering effects as an adult. Symptoms of anxiety were well recognized in ancient Egypt, although not of course by that name.

You can read more in my post over at USA Today Happily Ever After. My primary reason for writing the post was to urge anyone who might have symptoms of anxiety not to hesitate, but to do something about it. I was so lucky that my family doctor diagnosed what was going on right away, so I’ve always known what to do for it.

My character figures out what to do about her challenges over the course of the novel, in ways that work for her. And yes, she has a Happily Ever After! It’s a romance after all 🙂

Best wishes!

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Discussing My Writing Process

???????????????????????????????My friend from the Here Be Magic author group, Jody Wallace, tagged me to participate in this meme. I love to answer questions – we all know that LOL – so here goes and Happy Monday to everyone!

What am I working on? Other than this blog post? And the dayjob stuff I brought home? Well, I’m on the second revision of my new science fiction romance/adventure, MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR. I’m also doing advance thinking for my next paranormal novel set in Ancient Egypt, tentatively entitled GHOST OF THE NILE. I’m mulling ideas for a series, researching books and authors for my USA Today/HEA column “Sci-Fi Encounters”…and kinda feeling overwhelmed. But I LOVE writing!!!

How does my work differ from others of its genre? It’s um written by me??? How does one answer a question like this, seriously? I will say, though, that when it comes to the novels set in Ancient Egypt, I research them as if I was going to write a historical and then I put in paranormal twists involving the gods. I’ve had Readers and Reviewers tell me they enjoy the matter of fact way the Egyptian pantheon takes part in the action and how the everyday warriors, dancers and other characters accept and expect this. So perhaps that’s my unique twist there! I began the series with Priestess of the Nile, featuring the Crocodile God Sobek as a shifter, who falls in love with a human woman…As far as the science fiction, I try to tell a good story, have pretty much nonstop action and of course some romance. Maybe not unique but hopefully enjoyable for the Reader.

Why do I write what I do? I’ve always been fascinated by the ancient world and especially the Egyptians. I loved the YA book Mara, Daughter of the Nile  by Eloise McGraw Jarvis and always wanted more of that kind of fiction to read, but with a lot more romance and magic. So I write those! On the science fiction side, I was heavily influenced by all the SF my Dad kept in the house, especially Andre Norton, and again, I wanted more romance to go with the action…

How does your writing process work? I’m very superstitious about my Muse so I frankly don’t delve too deeply into my process. I sit down, the words flow, the story happens. I usually know the opening, the ending and a few key scenes when I start writing a book and the rest fills itself in as I go. I always know who the hero and heroine are, but the other characters introduce themselves as the story unfolds. I sit here at my great grandmother’s desk, which I inherited, and I bang away on a laptop (learned on an old Royal typewriter to of course I still pound the keys LOL). Periodically my cat Jake will insist on attention. He usually wants me to throw various items for the other cat, Keanu, to chase, which amuses Jake. Eventually I have to get up and retrieve All The Items because Keanu loses interest when the toy stops moving. He doesn’t fetch.

I think this meme is losing steam so I’m only tagging two authors for next week:  Beth Matthews, author of The Beauty’s Beast and Shawna Reppert, author of The Stolen Luck.

Best wishes with your week!

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Who Is He? PRIESTESS OF THE NILE Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa buttonA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

PRIESTESS OF THE NILE was my first published work and MAGIC OF THE NILE is the sequel to PRIESTESS.

You can read the beginning of Chapter One of PRIESTESS here on my website.

VS_PriestessOfTheNileMerys has been tending an abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek and doesn’t realize she’d been talking to him (in his human form and calling himself “Bek”).

Sobek forms a habit of stopping by the beach in the evenings to chat with Merys. He grows ever more attracted to her, she falls in love with him (of course or there’d be no story)…but she still doesn’t know who he is. Isis intervenes with serious threats….but eventually Sobek can’t resist sneaking back to the beach to catch a glimpse of Merys… “just to hear her sing”.

Merys has been fishing with a net in the Nile shallows when she loses her protective amulet, which unbeknownst to her Sobek had bespelled to keep his crocodiles from attacking her. With it gone, she’s easy prey…seized by a crocodile…rescued by Sobek and…I’m skipping the part where he magically heals her injuries. This will be the final excerpt from Priestess. I’ll be switching over to the recently published sequel Magic of the Nile.

She put a trembling hand on his cheek, saying “Who are you, Bek?”

“Sobek,” He said, clearing his throat as he stroked her back with one hand, resting his lips next to her ear, he whispered, “I am Sobek.”

New adrenaline pumped through her, making her heart pound and sending a hot pulse along her nerves. “The Crocodile God?” I’ve been sitting and talking to the Great One all this time, treating him like a human man? I fell in love with him – how could I have been so blind? “The Crocodile God himself?”

“Yes,” He nodded, watching her closely, his green eyes steady on her face, his brows slightly raised, “I’m sorry I misled you.”

(The above excerpt has been edited somewhat from the published text to fit the Weekend Writing Warrior rules and give you a complete scene. )

As always, I love your comments and feedback. Although this is a published work, the input helps for the future novels… 

The story:

Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Carina Press   All Romance

Escaping the Crocodile PRIESTESS OF THE NILE Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa buttonA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

My new book was released last week but I’ll finish the incident of Merys and the crocodile, and the reveal of Sobek’s identity as promised, which may take another week or two at the eight-sentence rate LOL. PRIESTESS OF THE NILE was my first published work and MAGIC OF THE NILE is the sequel to PRIESTESS.

VS_PriestessOfTheNileYou can read the beginning of Chapter One of PRIESTESS here on my website.

Merys has been tending an abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek and doesn’t realize she’d been talking to him (in his human form and calling himself “Bek”).

Sobek forms a habit of stopping by the beach in the evenings to chat with Merys. He grows ever more attracted to her, she falls in love with him (of course or there’d be no story)…but she still doesn’t know who he is. Isis intervenes with serious threats….but eventually Sobek can’t resist sneaking back to the beach to catch a glimpse of Merys… “just to hear her sing”.

Merys has been fishing with a net in the Nile shallows when she loses her protective amulet, which unbeknownst to her Sobek had bespelled to keep his crocodiles from attacking her. With it gone, she’s easy prey…seized by a crocodile…

…something huge flashed by her in the water and struck the crocodile with enough force to shove it sideways a few feet against the current. The predator opened its jaws to deal with the threat and Merys floated free. A tiny hope of survival bloomed within her – a spurt of energy sizzled through her nerves, giving her new strength. Kicking as hard as she could with the injured leg, heart pounding, Merys clawed her way to the surface.  Something solid rose from the murky depths behind her.

As Merys screamed and flailed, too weak to swim, a hard surface lay under her, lifting her completely out of the water, supporting her as if she were stretched out on a board or a raft. 

When Merys regained consciousness, she was held safe in Bek’s muscular arms, nestled against his broad chest. Too exhausted to question the miracle of his presence she curled closer to him in relief while he strode across the beach toward her favorite spot under the palm trees.

(The above excerpt has been edited somewhat from the published text to fit the Weekend Writing Warrior rules and give you a complete scene. As you can see, being extremely angry and upset, Sobek shifted into his crocodile form to rescue his lady…. I’ll give you their conversation next week.)

As always, I love your comments and feedback. Although this is a published work, the input helps for the future novels… 

The story:

Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Carina Press   All Romance

New Release MAGIC OF THE NILE Available Now

MagicOfTheNile_1600x2400I’m so happy to announce the Release of my latest paranormal romance set in ancient Egypt – MAGIC OF THE NILE.

The story:

After a childhood spent scorned and ignored by her family because of her crippled foot, Tyema was magically healed then installed as the High Priestess of his temple by Sobek the Crocodile God. But Tyema is still haunted by her memories, scarred by the abuse she endured. Despite Sobek’s protection, as an adult she’s become a near recluse inside the temple grounds…

Until Captain Sahure arrives in her remote town, sent from Thebes on an urgent mission for Pharaoh, requiring High Priestess Tyema’s help. From that moment on, her quiet, safe life is upended in ways she never could have expected.

But after a whirlwind romance with Sahure, the two part as Pharaoh orders him to undertake another assignment on Egypt’s dangerous frontier, far from Tyema’s remote town.

Heart-broken, Tyema is ready to return to her life of loneliness, official duties and, now, regret. But the Crocodile God has other plans for his priestess: she must uncover the sorcerer who threatens Pharaoh’s life with black magic. Soon enough, Tyema finds herself thrown into the chaos of Pharoah’s court, neck deep in intrigue and danger. Just when she thinks she can’t take the pressures of a very public court life and her secret investigation for the Crocodile God any longer, Sahure re-enters the scene.

But is her former love there to help or to hinder? Can they resolve their differences and work together to find the dark sorcerer who threatens Pharaoh and Egypt? Will the love between a proud warrior and a shy priestess lead them to a future together?

The sequel to Priestess of the Nile 

Available at Amazon   Barnes & Noble  All Romance eBooks now! Other eBook Sellers Coming Soon!

In the Grip of the Crocodile PRIESTESS OF THE NILE Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa buttonA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

VS_PriestessOfTheNileMy new book is still a few days away from being Released, so I thought I’d fill the gap with excerpts from PRIESTESS OF THE NILE, which was my first published work, because the new book is a sequel to PRIESTESS.

You can read the beginning of Chapter One of PRIESTESS here on my website so for the excerpt I’ll go a bit further into the story. Last week, Merys, who has been tending an abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek, didn’t realize she was talking to him (in his human form).

Sobek forms a habit of stopping by the beach in the evenings to chat with Merys. He grows ever more attracted to her, she falls in love with him (of course or there’d be no story)…but she still doesn’t know who he is. Isis intervenes with serious threats….but eventually Sobek can’t resist sneaking back to the beach to catch a glimpse of Merys… “just to hear her sing”.

Merys has been fishing with a net in the Nile shallows when she loses her protective amulet, which unbeknownst to her Sobek had bespelled to keep his crocodiles from attacking her. With it gone, she’s easy prey…last week she was seized by a crocodile…

The bone-crushing force sent a sheet of hot pain up her leg and through her body until adrenaline pulsed in her system.

The beast dragged her under the surface of the Nile, pulling her toward the center of the river. Cold water rushed over her face, into her open mouth. Merys gagged, tried to hold her breath, beating on the animal’s closed jaws with her fists, then trying to jab at the nearest eye. Her stomach heaved, nausea and weakness from the intensity of the pain in her leg spreading outward from her gut.

The crocodile rolled her over and over, tossing her like Tyema’s puppy with a rag doll. Black spots danced before her eyes and she scrunched them tightly closed against the dizziness. What do I do to get away before I drown?

Tyema is her little sister by the way (who will be the heroine of MAGIC OF THE NILE).  Next week we’ll see what Sobek does to save the woman he loves. Still working toward the big reveal of his identity…and after that I’ll switch off to excerpts from MAGIC, which will probably be Released with in a week.

As always, I love your comments and feedback. Although this is a published work, the input helps for the future novels… 

The story:

Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated MagicOfTheNile_1600x2400by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Carina Press   All Romance

Never Lose the Amulet PRIESTESS OF THE NILE for Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa button

A fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

VS_PriestessOfTheNileMy new book is still a week or two (finished the copy edits yesterday) away from being Released, so I thought I’d fill the gap with excerpts from PRIESTESS OF THE NILE, which was my first published work, because the new book is a sequel to PRIESTESS.

This excerpt is a tiny bit edited from the published book to meet the eight sentence requirement.

You can read the beginning of Chapter One of PRIESTESS here on my website so for the excerpt I’ll go a bit further into the story. Last week, Merys, who has been tending an abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek, didn’t realize she was talking to him (in his human form).

Sobek forms a habit of stopping by the beach in the evenings to chat with Merys. He grows ever more attracted to her, she falls in love with him (of course or there’d be no story)…but she still doesn’t know who he is. Isis intervenes with serious threats….but eventually Sobek can’t resist sneaking back to the beach to catch a glimpse of Merys… “just to hear her sing”.

And now the events begin that cause him to reveal his true identity….she’s been fishing with a net in the Nile shallows when she loses her protective amulet, which unbeknownst to her Sobek had bespelled to keep his crocodiles from attacking her. With it gone, she’s easy prey…

She pushed her hair out of her eyes roughly and sighed in frustration, checking her neck one more time, not quite accepting the loss of her necklace. The slithering sensation against her skin as the old leather thong parted and the amulet fell had been so startling, she had not grabbed for it in time. Peering uselessly into the murk of the Nile, Merys blinked back tears. The only possession of my great-grandmother’s I had left, the symbol of my being a priestess—gone. I’ll wait for the silt to settle and then hopefully I can find it. Taking a moment to enjoy the soaring flight of a flock of white ibis against the blue sky, she stood straighter, easing her muscles. 

The sky tilted and vertigo assailed her as her feet were violently yanked out from under her. A crocodile closed its mighty jaws around her ankle, ripping a desperate scream from her throat.

Next week we’ll see what Sobek does…I  love your comments and feedback!

The story:

Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Carina Press   All Romance

Does He Appreciate Her? Priestess of the Nile Weekend Writing Warriors

better wewriwaA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

So we’ve closed the door on DANCER OF THE NILE (although now you guys have me thinking about sequels…)

VS_PriestessOfTheNileMy new book is still a few weeks away from being Released, so I thought I’d fill the gap with excerpts from PRIESTESS OF THE NILE, which was my first published work, because the new book is a sequel to PRIESTESS. You can read the beginning of Chapter One of PRIESTESS here on my website so for the excerpt I’ll go a bit further into the story. Merys, who has been tending an abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek, doesn’t realize she’s talking to him (in his human form). Sobek is somewhat amused by her fierce loyalty:

“I’m sure your efforts are appreciated.” He tried to keep the smile off his face, biting his cheek.

The girl frowned at him and shook one finger saying,  “The god protects us even now.” Her tone was cold, her eyes narrowed. “We have had only one ox and two cows seized by crocodiles in the past year, and no small children.” She furrowed her brow as some memory surfaced. “Well, one man was taken, but he was suspected of being a thief so no one mourned him. And the flooding of the Nile has been generous in bringing us fertile fields.”

The Story

VS_PriestessOfTheNileDrawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Carina Press   All Romance

Ancient Egyptian Love Poems

Here’s one from the Archives, that I originally wrote for a guest post on Romancing the Book in 2012. The occasion was the Release of my first story set in Ancient Egypt, PRIESTESS OF THE NILE. I’m going to be publishing the sequel, MAGIC OF THE NILE, in March:

???????????????????????????????The heart of Priestess of the Nile is the love story between Sobek the Crocodile God and Merys, the priestess of one of his temples. Set in Ancient Egypt around 1500BC, the romance plays out against a paranormal background, as Sobek is a shifter who can be fully human (and very hot if I may say so!), half human/half crocodile or fully crocodile (along the scale of a dinosaur or dragon). The Ancient Egyptians were a romantic people and wrote many poems about love and romance.  With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I thought that made a good topic….

“Poetry is perhaps the greatest forgotten treasure of ancient Egypt,” said Richard Parkinson, an expert on ancient Egyptian poetry at London’s British Museum, home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo. (Interview for National Geographic News 4/20/2004).

Love poems have been found in many excavations of Egyptian ruins, from the tombs of the rich to the ruins of humble workers’ villages. It is believed that originally the poems were passed down through memorization, much as the minstrels of the Middle Ages would preserve their tales of chivalry and the love between knights and fair ladies. Eventually the poems were committed to papyrus or even scribbled in hieratic on shards of pottery and therefore preserved for us to enjoy. Students may have copied out parts of poems when practicing to become scribes.

Sobek didn’t happen to recite any poetry to Merys in the course of the novel (although I’m sure he probably made up for that lapse later LOL) but here’s one fragment of a poem dating to the time where my story occurs:

The Flower Song (Excerpt)
To hear your voice is pomegranate wine to me:
I draw life from hearing it.
Could I see you with every glance,
It would be better for me
Than to eat or to drink.

(Translated by M.V. Fox)

Here’s another fragment which I enjoy, taken from a much longer poem:

She looks like the rising morning star

At the start of a happy year.

Shining bright, fair of skin,

Lovely the look of her eyes,

Sweet the speech of her lips,

She has not a word too much.

VS_PriestessOfTheNile There was no specific celebration or day devoted to love and lovers that we know about, but the goddess Hathor was the Egyptian deity personifying love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. We can imagine her festivals probably served as an excuse for many a pair of young lovers to enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t include Hathor in Priestess of the Nile but she’s definitely involved in a key scene in  MAGIC OF THE NILE.

Sobek and Merys managed to fall in love and find joy together without needing intervention from Hathor! My best wishes to you for a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Cover Reveal MAGIC OF THE NILE

Coming in February (still in edits) – MAGIC OF THE NILE, the sequel to PRIESTESS OF THE NILE.  My lovely new cover from Frauke at Croco Designs:

MagicOfTheNile_1600x2400

Here’s the story:

1535 BCE

After a childhood spent scorned and ignored by her family because of her crippled foot, Tyema was magically healed then installed as the High Priestess of his temple by Sobek the Crocodile God. But Tyema is still haunted by her memories, scarred by the abuse she endured. Despite Sobek’s protection, as an adult she’s become a near recluse inside the temple grounds…

Until Captain Sahure arrives in her remote town, sent from Thebes on an urgent mission for Pharaoh, requiring High Priestess Tyema’s help. From that moment on, her quiet, safe life is upended in ways she never could have expected.

But after a whirlwind romance with Sahure, the two lovers part as Pharaoh orders the captain to undertake another assignment on Egypt’s dangerous frontier, far from Tyema’s remote town.

Heart-broken, Tyema is ready to return to her life of loneliness, official duties and, now, regret. But the Crocodile God has other plans for his priestess: she must uncover the sorcerer who threatens Pharaoh’s life with black magic. Soon enough, Tyema finds herself thrown into the chaos of Pharoah’s court, neck deep in intrigue and danger. Just when she thinks she can’t handle the twin pressures of a public life at court and her secret investigation for the Crocodile God any longer, Sahure re-enters the scene.

But is her former love there to help or to hinder? Can they resolve their differences and work together to find the dark sorcerer who threatens Pharaoh and Egypt? Will the love between a proud warrior and a shy priestess lead them to a future together?