Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kindle fiction popularity. Is there any correlation between what you blog/tweet about and book sales?

The titles you're not tweeting or blogging about at the time are more likely to be selling

It's the paradox of promotion.

A mystery of ancient Egyptian proportions.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How hard must it be for writers who don't know stuff? An author's top Egypt photos.

"Egypt is "one of the characters" in my fiction. Do good authors need to know stuff?

Sometimes I wonder how hard must it be for writers who don't know stuff.
But then, when I think about it, we all know something.
And it doesn't have to be a technical subject.
One could ask, for example, what did Jane Austen know?
Quite a lot.
She was intimately acquainted with human nature, with drawing room manners and the politics of the heart. (We can forgive her for ignoring the Napoleonic wars raging across the Channel!)
It's perhaps just harder for some writers to find their stuff.
But it's always there.
It just takes a little digging, like archaeology.

An ancient danger arising...

A race for ancient Egypt's forbidden power... the world's future written in stone

Monday, May 25, 2015

River Nile ‘Time Machine’… memories of Agatha Christie film ‘Death on the Nile’

SS Time Machine... had to rub my eyes when I saw this on the Nile a few years back

'Karnak' iteration

Renamed (briefly) 'Karnak' for Death on the Nile

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ancient Egypt's River Nile - Internet Superhighway of a civiization

River Nile, ancient superhighway

For me, ancient Egypt was a civilization connected by a superhighway, a network-of-networks linking sites of temples, palaces, government, markets, industry, construction and education. 

It was a geographic Internet and engine of economic, religious and technical growth, and of continuity.

The unique River Nile.
The Anson Hunter adventure novels - and other novels in my Egypt collection, cover the entire length and breadth and time span of Egypt - and the far reaches of its empire in Nubia... Cairo, the pyramids, the Sphinx, the tombs of Sakkara, Amarna, The Valley of the Kings, the temples of Abydos, Karnak, Dendera, Edfu, The Lost Labyinth of Egypt's Fayoum, Abu Simbel.

An early visit to the temple of Abydos

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Grieving for Palmyra's detonated Roman temple? Antiquities and The Anarchy of the Ages...

UPDATE: While we grieve for Nimrud and the latest news that in Palmyra a Roman era temple has been obliterated with explosives, let's not forget to celebrate the miracle that so much of antiquity has survived the anarchy of the ages.

The British Museum

In places like Egypt, Greece, Italy, Meso-America...

In our museums around the world.

In our books and film material.

(And maybe let's think hard about the wisdom of repatriating the world's antiquities collections.)

Friday, May 22, 2015

UPDATE 'A mummified croc boy? A chimera from ancient Egypt to tantalize us', he thought.

Ancient menace and the echoes of supernatural beings haunt this Egypt fiction series.

Anson Hunter, fiction's Egyptologist, quotes a text from the eighteenth Nome of Upper Egypt that describes a whole necropolis of buried gods.
The gods lived and died, all except the High God, according to the Egyptians.
A copy of the Turin Papyrus documents the life spans of Egypt's gods in a detailed list. It records that these supreme beings enjoyed life spans of between 200 and 3,126 years. If you can conceive, even for a moment, that they existed, then who were they? These were the First Timers of the age of Zep Tepi. This was a time when Egypt was ruled by a race of so-called gods known as the Neteru, some humanoid, some hybrids.
Of course there have been monsters to tease us, like the Topkapi hybrid.
Authorities in charge of antiquities in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul found a mystery when they examined an Egyptian mummy included in their collection - a child in a wooden sarcophagus. Under the linen wrappings and their puzzled gaze they found a small crocodile joined to a boy. What was this strange creature? A joke, a trick pulled on posterity by the ancients? Was the Topkapi freak the spawn of ancient god-seed? Boy and crocodile? Egyptologists dismissed it as an ancient hoax or practical joke. Others saw the interment as an act of veneration in honour of Sobek, the crocodile god of Egypt who had cult centres in Kom Ombo and more importantly the Faiyum, around ancient Lake Moeris.
A croc boy? It sparked some sensationalist debate. Had a race of so-called gods and demigods of ancient Egypt actually existed, as Greek historians attested, an unearthly strain, many with heads of lions, jackals, crocodiles, snakes, cows, rams, and birds? Perhaps the reptile boy was an example of a short-lived offspring from this distant epoch. Or the rest of the boy was eaten by a crocodile.  (The Smiting Texts.)

UPDATE: See a more detailed report and image of this hybrid mummy  - thanks to Karl Shuker, Zoologist and media writer. Here's a link

For your next 'beach read'... the sands of ancient Egypt...

Dig here

Horus a long way from home

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Example of my pre-storyboarding fiction using Googled scrap art - 'HUNTING HATHOR'

This became a 5-star novella on Amazon Kindle.

A Mythic Novella.

The story first appeared as a tale within a novel in the archaeological adventure thriller ‘The Smiting Texts’, but is now released as "Hunting Hathor" in a separate edition for lovers of mythology and ancient romance.

“This tale of an ancient hunter's fate to recapture the goddess of devastation in order to save Egypt is particularly beautiful. Wonderfully clever and original.” THE TRUTH ABOUT BOOKS 

"Great reading" - 5-star. Amazon Kindle US

Hathor-Sekhmet was the goddess with two faces, one, Hathor, the Sweet One, goddess of sexual love, joy, music and intoxication, the other, Hathor-Sekhmet, the terrible lioness of annihilation, sent by Ra to destroy humankind for their rebelliousness.
In her marauding stage they called her The Confused One in the Night.
Were there times when Hathor slipped from one state to another? One phase, goddess of love, shining in her beauty, and the next a wild and dreadful lioness of destruction? What would it have been like to come across Hathor, the young woman, and not know that she hid another side?

“Does the good bowman not unstring his bow at night to relax it?” she said to the young hunter

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graphic novels and comics aside, can visual elements enhance enjoyment of say a thriller?

Huck Finn


She, also below

This is not a plea for infantilization, but are we truly less visual today than we were as children?

Surely this generation is even more visual than past ones, in an age of illustrated blogs, of movies, television, computers, advertising and computer games.

Thinking back as a young reader of fiction, visual elements such as illustrations, made novels crackle with life and seared them in my memory.

Treasure island, She, King Solomon's Mines, Huckleberry Finn, Biggles, yes, even Famous Five...

The more I hear that graphics and novels provide a sensory overload that people cannot cope with, the more I feel such protestations are just a rearguard action.

The novel must and will change, even if change means borrowing from reading's exciting beginning for children, an experience that left an impact for a lifetime.

Maybe not all fiction benefits from visuals as well as others.

I suppose it depends upon the subject.

But for me at least, the ancient world such as Egypt, offers a rich opportunity for visual impact with its artefacts and ruins.

A few of my novels have introduced photos, such as 'Egypt Eyes', an adventure thriller which is written as a series of blogs with photos by an Egyptologist, and also 'The Egyptian Mythology Murders'.

Of course today's publishers will prefer to stay clear of graphics which could add considerably to the cost of printing, although the lower cost of e-books should make this more attractive.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A burning holocaust sun in the adventure thriller 'THE HATHOR HOLOCAUST'

THE HATHOR HOLOCAUST adventure thriller (Kindle edition)
He slipped to the ground, stunned. Gemma landed on top of him as heat like a nuclear blast ignited the cavern.

When he turned, heat scorching his face, he gaped at what he saw.

The big man Kraft, now held a handgun pointed at him, but instead of gunfire coming from the barrel, his whole body had ignited in flames. Ibhahim Saad, nearby, was aglow like an incandescent element, his clothes alight like burning mummy wrappings. Neith, arms outflung, either in dismay or worship, Anson could not say, was ablaze like a fiery cross. Boy Wonder, also clutching a handgun, burnt on the floor like a blazing question mark. The Chantresses of Amun staggered in flames in a horrible parody of exaltation.

The Aten holocaust sun had done this, not a metaphysical one, but a madman pharaoh’s weapon of horror.

Here were the multiple shining shields of Archimedes that history said had burnt the Roman fleet, but built centuries before the Greek.

Akhenaten’s Aten, the sun disc deity, shown shedding beneficent rays that ended in hands holding the anhk symbols of life, had here become ‘the sun that killed with the arrows of heat’.

This weapon did not need the real sun to reflect and direct its inferno. The heat from the furnace, powered by some unknown fuel of the ancients’ science burnt at a ferocious temperature and it was enough. The reflective surface of the golden sun was taking the heat, converging and concentrated it a hundredfold, a thousand fold into solar rays of destruction, a defence planned by ancient priests to destroy any who would re-awaken the lioness.

“Get out - against the wall!” he shouted.

Anson wriggled after her, propelling himself with his feet and elbows. They snaked along the floor, squeezed into the corner where the wall met the floor, shrinking from the blast that fulminated through the cavern. Gemma was gasping in the furnace and Anson felt heat sear him.

Where was the tunnel entrance way that had brought them to this cavern?

Keep going.

The roar of flames like an angry sun filled his ears.

An 'archaeological dig' among memories of his murdered Egyptologist father... THE SMITING TEXTS adventure thriller

A framed David Roberts painting torn from the wall...

They reached the door to his father’s apartment, not far from the Johns Hopkins University campus, Anson and two Homeland men, Bloem and Browning.

They planned to force the door, but they didn’t need to.

“Someone has beaten us here,” Bloem said.

Anson hesitated. An image flashed through his mind. He pictured a false doorway from a tomb. A door that went nowhere. A magical door between two worlds, the living and the dead. This was such a door, he thought, although this one had a handle to open and bore a number in brass. His father, or some vestigial remains of his life, lay behind the door. Would it really admit him into some new knowledge or understanding of him? Now that his father’s life was over, would he finally make a contact of sorts? How he longed for that contact and had longed for it ever since he was a boy.

“You okay?” Bloem said to him. “Maybe we’d better go first.”


He must cross the threshold.

He reached out and pushed. The door swung open at a touch.

He expected to discover the presence of his father inside. Instead he found the wreckage of his father’s life. The apartment lay in chaos. Books, journals, papers, photographs, print outs, letters and scraps of papers littered every surface, scattered over table tops, a green leather topped desk, a trestle table, even strewn out on the carpeted floor.

They went inside.

The place was deserted and a quick check around the studio apartment left him feeling empty too.

He was stricken with a childlike loneliness and regret that this ruin was all that was left of his father.

But there were personal clues left around that struck Anson like a minor revelation. In the bathroom, he learnt that his father must have taken a toiletry travel kit to Egypt on his digs, for here was another set. He saw the brand of toothpaste his father used and the methodical way he squeezed the tube, rolling it up from the base, a bright red toothbrush sitting in a glass, an antique metal scrape shaver, a striped dressing gown hanging behind a door, intimate markers of a life that his father had denied his knowing. He felt like an intruder seeing secrets never meant to be seen by others and by him in particular.

Anson felt a grief come up in his chest for the first time. He fought it down. Stop, he told himself simply. You’ve got a job to do. But where would he begin?

Torn from shelves like an avalanche of erudition, lay hundreds of volumes on ancient Egypt, medieval Egypt, archaeology, mythology and magic, piled in heaps. He came back to the door.

“Either my father was not as methodical as his reputation,” he said, “Or this place has been turned over.”

It looked as if it had been hit by a howling windstorm. Even pictures had been torn off the walls. Framed illustrations of Egypt’s ruins by nineteenth century landscape artist David Roberts lay on the floor.

Anson looked around the place in wintry bemusement.

“Not burglars, I’m guessing.”

“They were searching for information.”

Approaching the personal effects and papers of the dead Egyptologist’s life was going to be like approaching an archaeological dig, he thought. Was this how his father had felt when approaching the excavation of a ruined site?

To go over this wreckage carefully almost called for the methodology of grid method excavation, he thought, groaning inwardly. To do it properly wasn’t just a matter of clearance. Like an archaeologist working on an excavation, he should probably establish relationships in time between the objects, a relative chronology and that almost meant calling on the same disciplines of stratigraphy and superimposition that his father wrote about using in his diggings. Maybe he should establish a datum point, like the desk where his father worked. Anson sighed. No time for that. This is my father’s apartment, not a tomb site.

Yet these personal books and papers were parts of his father and, like the body of the god Osiris, who had been ripped into pieces by his enemy, the intruders had scattered Emory Hunter’s life all over the floor...

Friday, May 15, 2015

SHARED. Why was a spell from the Book of the Dead tattooed around a Washington man's torso?

SHABTI - a soul servant bound to serve the dead in the next life

By author Brenda Roy on Amazon Kindle

Shabti spell

A jolt of a short story.

Someone had wrapped a man in magical texts like an inscribed shabti statuette - not in ancient times. But today, in modern day Washington.

What is the motive? A jealous lover? Or something more sinister?

Short Story - Intriguing mystery with an ancient Egyptian twist of the unknown.
Brenda Roy is also the author of the novel ‘One Day I’ll Tell You Something – The boy who remembered ancient Egypt. The young mother who discovered adventure’…

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spot the secret hidden message in the Egyptian mummy mask? 'THE GOD DIG'

A funerary mask hides a secret

She switched on a light and an overhead fan stirred the heavy, dusty air.

“So this is where your father wove his web of theories.”

The dead historian’s studio in Alexandria looked like a mixture between a museum basement and a book storeroom after a minor explosion.

On a cloth-draped desk at the back of the area they found the painted Ptah-Seker-Osiris figure and beside it the funerary mask.

Anson ignored the painted wooden figure and turned his attention to the mask. Like many later period funerary masks, it lacked the serene refinement of the classical dynastic periods. Covered in gold leaf, the face was expressive with upraised eyebrows and a quizzically intelligent expression in the eyes. Painted decoration and embossing covered much of the surface, even on the parted wig, showing images of a seated Osiris.

“You think there’s a clue in the funerary mask?” she said.

“Literally in the mask. Something you said earlier about the resting place of the hidden gods being in front of his face. Like many funerary masks in the later period, this one was made not of wood but of cartonnage, layers of linen or papyrus stuck together, then plastered and painted or gilded, or both. Sometimes the priests used recycled papyrus documents and valuable lost texts have come to light, hidden in the layers. Maybe the dead man’s eyes were looking at a clue written inside the layers of this mask.”
She snapped on a desk lamp and gazed into the dark eyes in the mask.

“Hidden right in front of his eyes? My father would have loved that.”

He turned the mask around. To his disappointment, the first layer was made of linen, badly stained and rusted with age.

She found a soft cushion and put it on the table and they set the mask on its face and together peeled away the linen. It came away easily, as if it had been opened before and revealed another layer of linen, and then beneath it a finely ribbed, mustard coloured surface.


More than that. He peeled a corner back.

Persephone gave an exultant whoop as squiggles of text jumped into view underneath their fingers.

“Script! It’s Egyptian demotic, late demotic,” she said. “That fits. Clear away some more.”

They lifted the veil of linen to reveal the words of the long-dead priest.

Anson used his iPhone to take photos of the mask, along with the painted wooden statue of the Ptah-Seker-Osiris figure.

An Egyptologist and a female Mossad agent meet at the Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan THE IBIS APOCALYPSE

Aswan, Upper Egypt

ANSON and Zara Margolin flew via Cairo to Aswan in southern Egypt.

They sat on the shaded balcony of the Old Cataract Hotel, a terracotta-coloured building perched on a granite bluff above the Nile. Here they sipped Egyptian Stella beer while looking out at one of the views of the world, the rocky Elephantine island rising in the stream, tall palms spreading their fronds in the hotel gardens and the sails of gliding feluccas slicing wedges in the silvery blue water.

They would have an afternoon and a night here before joining the conference cruise on Lake Nasser the next day. The film crew would be joining them in Cairo afterwards.

“When I think of Egypt as an oasis civilisation, I think of this place and this particular hotel,” he said. “The Old Cataract is a colonial treasure that’s attracted a Who's Who of guests over the decades.”

Was she listening? Zara sat behind reflective sunglasses. A felucca sailed past in her lenses.

“I’ve seen a list of people,” she said.

“I know the list.”

“You do?”

“The Aga Khan, King Farouk, Czar Nicolas, Howard Carter, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Lady Diana. Then of course the guest list at the Cataract includes Agatha Christie, who wrote 'Death on the Nile' in a room above.”

“No, not that list. I mean the list of delegates joining us on the conference cruise. I’ve also read their pre conference abstracts.”

Zara’s mind was on the job. In a place like this?

When the last gods of Egypt were forced to flee: “The God Dig” adventure thriller

Anubis, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“The last gods of Egypt are on the move on the backs of the pack animals and dragged on sleds like boats, along with a cargo of scrolls and parchments in clay jars, a line stretching out into the distance like the ancient origins of Egyptian religion... Egypt has survived the Hyksos, the Persians, Greeks and Romans and now the priests have acted in time to protect some of their sacred images before they end up being melted down to make pots and utensils for the Christian church and the documents go to stoke their fires.
Yes, not just blazing golden gods and treasures are on the move, but incendiary documents. Among them, the evidence that ancient Egypt was the root of all modern faith religions and the belief in a heavenly afterlife… whether for Christians, Jews or Muslims. The priests plan to hide the hoard until it is safe for it to be returned to the world in a future age of enlightenment..."

Monday, May 11, 2015

'EGYPT EYES' ★★★★★ 5-Star Egypt adventure thriller, Amazon US

Egypt Eyes

"Be my eyes in Egypt," she said to him. The celebrated young Egyptologist and space archaeologist Dr Constance Somers had once explored ancient Egypt's lost treasures from space. But now she is legally blind. She hires controversial, alternative Egyptologist Anson Hunter to be her guide on a Nile cruise. 'Show me the hidden Egypt of your imagination,' she says. But does she have a darker purpose, planning to use his unique skills to help her penetrate a secret and dangerous site that she found?
And why are agents of the US National Reconnaissance Office, a secret Intelligence agency in charge of satellites and overhead security, suddenly taking an interest in the work of the space archaeologist? Has she made a discovery in her satellite archaeology that has global security ramifications?
Anson must face unexpected enemies at every turn and use his skills to survive the dangers of a lost underground sanctuary as he tries to unlock its shattering secret.
'Egypt Eyes' - a groundbreaking adventure and mystery thriller.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Egyptologist fiction hero’s attitude to death…

Painted grapes hang in cluster from the tomb ceiling.(One of my early visits to Egypt - tomb of Sennedjem)

There is little sense of gloom and despair in Egyptian tombs, Anson Hunter believes. None of the horror that hangs over our modern graveyards.

The painted walls are quick with life, activity, music, dance and partying, food and drink.

Everything about them attests to the Egyptians’ conviction about survival, confirming that they went to their graves believing firmly in an afterlife.

Anson Hunter has studied death, tombs and mummies for the better part of his life. Yet death - the first mystery - does not come any easier to him than to any other person, even though death is his stock in trade. Without death and the Egyptians’ love of life and determination to prolong it eternally, little of what he knows and loves about those distant days would have reached him. Death is the silent teacher and guide that leads him through the wonders of Egypt.

Yet death in his personal life is a different matter, it seems. A lifetime’s contemplation of the funerary habits of a long-dead people does not prepared him for death in real life…


Monday, May 4, 2015

Why did US Homeland pick up a renegade British Egyptologist at a US airport?

"The Smiting Texts" thriller - Paperback and Amazon Kindle

Egyptian animal mummy catacombs - their existence an embarrassment for Egyptologists?

Beautifully wrapped example of a falcon mummy

'Ibis mummies… accumulated by the million, each one individually wrapped and crammed into a sealed jar, and stacked with others to the ceiling like wine bottles in a network of underground passages and alcoves. But no beverage lay inside these jars, sealed with plaster, barely an atom of moisture.
They were walking among a vast flock of the dead. The doomed members of this aviary had spent their lives pacing temple enclosures, before being sacrificed as offerings to the moon god Thoth, Egypt’s Lord of time, wisdom, magic and measurement and inventor of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, he who recorded the verdict for the soul on the night of judgement - resulting in either a declaration of innocence, and the joy of an afterlife in the fields of Aaru, or guilt and extinction in the pit of everlasting nothingness, where the devourer of hearts waited to pounce.
In the heyday of ibis offerings, the priests buried over ten thousand birds a year in the name of Thoth, Anson recalled.
The existence of animal catacombs embarrassed professional Egyptologists, he'd noticed. They saw these mummy zoos as an aberration of religion and preferred to focus on the more exalted achievements of the Egyptians...'

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Can't go to Egypt right now? Join an independent Egyptologist in an investgative thriller adventure

Nile village from a cruiseboat

Goodreads review

Can't get to Egypt right now?

Then join Anson Hunter, renegade alternative Egyptologist and seeker of danger from the ancient past, on a journey of adventure, action and discovery.

Fiction's Egyptologist Anson Hunter takes various fringe groups to Egypt as a convenient cover for his investigations...

"Egypt is one of the characters..." Esoteric Book Review.