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In the 1970s, Erich von Däniken’s bestselling book Chariots of the Gods fired up a craze of speculation that aliens had visited our ancestors thousands of years ago, spurring the dawn of human civilization. Von Däniken cited such evidence as the ancient Nazca Lines in Peru, suggesting they were designed to be seen from the air or space, as well as pictographs of humanoid figures that appeared to be wearing spacesuits.

A notebook computer in ancient Rome?Now an article in the UK’s Sunday Express suggests that time travelers rather than aliens may have visited our ancestors, bringing with them modern technology like helicopters, planes and notebook computers. (See one of several curious photos from the Express article on the right.)

Does all of this speculation make Templum, my fictional account of time travel to ancient Rome, any more feasible? :) Could a modern-day woman be transported to the first century and have to face the upcoming eruption of Vesuvius? For me, the premise was intriguing enough to suspend my disbelief and explore the idea. You can read the first couple of chapters of my take on it on this page. (Scroll down the page to view the reader.)

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My good friend author Tracy Fobes was kind enough to send me this news story about a woman who found 100-year-old love letters in the ceiling of her house while renovating. “This reminded me of your book Eternally Yours — which I loved,” Tracy said. (Thank you, Tracy!)

100-year-old love letters found while renovatingThe home owner in the news story was touched by the letters (pictured here, from the woman’s Facebook page) and posted on Facebook to try to find the descendants of the couple who wrote them. Happily, she located their great-grandson.

There are indeed some similarities in this real-life story to my book, but in Eternally Yours, it turns out that at least one the writers of the love letters is haunting the house where they were found! 😀

Wanted to share the story, because it’s the right time of year for ghost stories — just before Samhain when the veil between this world in the next is thin! 😉 If love letters and ghosts are your cup of tea, please click through to the book page for Eternally Yours. Happy haunting!

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Years ago, after Berkley/Jove released my first published book, As You Wish, people (mostly coworkers at my “day job”) often asked if I planned to write a sequel. I always said, “I don’t know, but maybe a prequel telling Phoebe and Harold’s story.” Their story was already half-formed in my mind, but having spent so much time on As You Wish, I wanted to do other stories first.

Well, the day has finally come for anyone who may be waiting for it. :) The prequel to As You Wish, a 35,000-word novella called Wish I Might is out today on Kindle! The cover and back-cover blurb are below. Print edition soon to come, and other ebook platforms later.

Kindle cover for Wish I Might

A love unrequited and wishes unfulfilled…

Phoebe Sheffield has been nursing tender feelings for David Traymore, a bitter younger man who views her as a sister. On a misty evening, under the influence of absinthe, she wishes for a suitor like him, only mature enough to appreciate her as a woman.

Be careful what you wish for…

For a few magic moments, her wish seems to come true when she meets someone she mistakes for a vision of David from the future. But after the most passionate encounter of her life, she learns her dream lover is actually David’s worst enemy: Lord Solebury, the man who sired him then abandoned his mother.

A choice between love and friendship…

Though Phoebe should hate Solebury, she’s wildly attracted to him—and moved when he opens up about the regrets of his youth. But how can she justify betraying David, the friend who needs her most, to be with the man who is the bane of his existence?

***

For the Kindle page on Amazon, please click here.

And if anyone is wondering, yes, next I am going to write a third book in the series. Very early days for that yet!

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Awed in Agrigento

Hubby and I are just back from a trip to Sicily, highlighted by four nights in a lovely B&B with a view of the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento. If you’re not familiar with this site, well, you’re not alone. I suspect it’s one of most under-appreciated places in the world — a true candidate for one of the Seven Wonders. The Valley boasts a complex of enormous temples built in the fifth century BCE when the area was a Greek colony. (The Parthenon in Athens was built around the same time.) It’s the largest archaeological site in the world.

At the Valley's best-preserved temple, dedicated -- I'm guessing -- to Athena

At the Valley’s best-preserved temple, dedicated — I’m guessing — to Athena

We entered the archaeological park (10 euros to get in) from the lower end. The first temple we encountered, traditionally ascribed to Castor and Pollux, has only four columns and a corner standing. But as I walked up to the towering reconstructed remains, the beauty of the architecture and the immensity of its purpose brought tears to my eyes. It’s unclear now which deities were worshiped in which temples in the Valley, but votive offerings to Demeter and Persephone show they were important in this zone, and despite extensive robbing out of the structures for Dark-Ages building projects, the sacred atmosphere lingers.

The largest of the temples, in a very poor state, is firmly connected to Zeus. Next up the hill comes Hera’s sanctuary, followed by the best preserved temple, called Concordia (a Roman name, not Greek). Oddly, I haven’t read any theories about which deity it celebrates, but knowing that Roman cities typically had their main sanctuary dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, my guess is “Concordia,” juxtaposed by temples to Zeus and Hera, was dedicated to Athena. 😉

If, like me, you’re a lover of sacred places, Agrigento is a pilgimmage I can’t recommend strongly enough. Also, if you’re interested in Hellenistic religion (and romance!), please check out my time-travel adventure Templum.

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Today is the anniversary of the eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii in 79 CE. It’s also my eldest nephew’s birthday, so doubly an important date for me. On this day, one of the most evocative places on earth was frozen in time for us to explore two millennia later — plus I first got to stick out my tongue at a newborn and see him mimic me (as I’d hoped). He has been a quick study ab ovo. :)

Vesuvius, from House of the Centenary, PompeiiVesuvius’s most famous eruption was a horrendous tragedy when it happened, but the trove of information it left us about daily life in a Roman town is invaluable — so much more fascinating than written history, which is mostly just about war. For example, the fresco here from a household shrine in ancient Pompeii apparently shows the volcano as it looked before the top blew. This is the only known depiction during the 500 dormant years that lulled the residents of the region into a false sense of safety. Some of those living on the slopes must have seen evidence of charring, steam vents and bubbling mud, but the last eruption had long passed from living memory.

The guy dressed in grapes next to the volcano is Bacchus (aka Dionysus), god of wine, present because the volcanic soil was (and is) excellent for vineyards.

If you’re curious about life in first-century Italy, please check out a fictional exploration in my time-travel romance, Templum. My contemporary mystery/romance The Five-Day-Dig also taps into the unparalleled mystique of this setting.

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