Tag Archive: art


seventhnewcover_smAt the suggestion of my longtime and fabulous critique partner Tracy Fobes, I’ve been meaning for a while to update the ebook edition cover of Seventh Sanctuary with an image that gives a better sense of the steaminess of the story. (For now, the print edition will still have the original cover, since changing that is more complicated.)

After a lot of contemplation and a bit of a quest, a stock photo caught my eye, and the more I thought about it the more I liked it. Over the weekend, Hubby helped with tweaking and typography, and voilà, the makeover is now complete on the Kindle and Nook editions. What do you think? 😉

For those not familiar with Seventh Sanctuary, the 154-page steamy romance novella tells the story of three ancient Sumerians caught in a web of desire and — maybe — divine intervention. But will the great and terrible goddess Inanna smile on them — or is it her will to destroy them?

The back-cover blurb and a sample are available on the book page here. Scroll down to the web reader for the sample.

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Art and Austen

How important was fine art to Jane Austen? And how does it influence her books? We know that Jane sketched, and so did other members of her family. A couple of her heroines draw, too — but it’s not portrayed as their calling in life. It’s more of a hobby.

Janine Barchas, an associate prof at the University of Texas, points out in her essay “Artistic Names in Austen’s Fiction: Cameo Appearances by Prominent Painters,” that Austen also alludes to artists in some of her characters’ names. In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy’s housekeeper, who shows off her employer’s portrait to Lizzie, is named Mrs. Reynolds — maybe a reference to portrait painter Joshua Reynolds? In Emma, the title character, who sketches, has a housekeeper named Hodges — maybe inspired by William Hodges? Other characters who share names with painters of the time are George Moreland in Northanger Abbey and Charles Hayter in Persuasion.

In my Regency-set romance, The Artful Miss Irvine, the title character is a serious artist, and her work plays a key role in the plot, giving the hero insights into her personality and her past. Of course, art is always open to interpretation, and her artwork also sets the stage for a misunderstanding between the characters. 🙂

For a description and sample chapters of The Artful Miss Irvine, please hop on over to the book page here. Janine Barchas’ essay is available (for a price) from Amazon here. It also appeared in Volume 31 2009 of the Jane Austen Society journal Persuasions. More on them on this this site.

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The ruins in my archaeological mystery/romance The Five-Day-Dig date to the same era as Pompeii, but at Paestum, Italy — an hour farther south by train (€10 or US $13.20 roundtrip) — the ancient ruins are even older, and the lizards are even bigger. 🙂

Although the town’s Greek-colonist founders named it Poseidonia after the god of the seas (“Paestum” is a Roman corruption of that), archaeological evidence shows that residents left most of their votive offerings to the goddess Hera. The mother-and-child statuettes dedicated to her intrigue me, because I’ve never otherwise seen Hera depicted in a motherly fashion, only as Zeus’ jealous consort. And the baby offering shown in the pic to the left looks like a very familiar piece from my Christmas manger (or lararium, as I like to call it).

Paestum’s big attractions are the town’s three huge Greek temples, the earliest dated to 550 BCE. At least one of them was dedicated to Hera, but it’s unclear who was worshiped at the other two — possibly Poseidon and Athena or Ceres. (Strangely, the Wikipedia entry seems to want to avoid attributing any of the temples to the god the town was named after.)

The site is in a very rural setting and a lonely 20-minute walk from the train station. Buy your return train tickets when/where you get your departure ones, because the ticket office in Paestum is often closed, and any shops that might sell tickets are way back near the ruins. When Hubby and I were there, there was also no validation box for tickets at the station, so when you board the train, get the conductor to validate your ticket (or, as a local advised us, just write “Paestum” on it, along with the date and time you left). For practical info about visiting, I recommend Rick Steves’ Italy 2012.

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The first time you visit Pompeii, it’s easy to miss the Villa of the Mysteries unless you know to look for it (and you should). One of the best preserved houses in the ancient town, it’s a little outside the city walls, beyond the Herculaneum gate. (When it looks like you’ve left the ruins, keep going — you’re almost there.)

What gives the villa its intriguing name is a series of frescoes showing an initiation ritual. No one knows what type of initiation is shown, but a depiction of Bacchus/Dionysus in the center suggests it had to do with his cult.

The story, which unfolds kind of like a comic strip, follows a young woman through a reading of text, an offering of sacrificial cakes, a scary encounter with mythological beings, and the verge of unveiling some covered object that we never get to see (after all, it’s a mystery cult). After the ordeal, the initiate is shown pulling herself back together, combing her hair. She has made it through the night.

Besides the cult room, the villa features other beautifully painted rooms and corridors. Curiously, one room is adorned with Egyptian symbols. Other cool things to see are plaster casts of window shutters and doors, still in place — you can even spot some of the original 2,000-year-old hinges and wood. The house also has an enormous kitchen. And near the back of the property are a few plaster cast of victims of the volcano eruption on display — sad.

On the beautiful spring day that Hubby and I visited, accompanied by chirping birds and shy little lizards, it was easy to envision the house in happier times. You can do the same with the help of computer-enhanced photos on this website. For speculation of what the rites might have been like, check out the reenactment scene in Chapter 15 (Quindici) of my book, The Five-Day-Dig).

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Sneak Preview

The new book won’t be out until November 1st, but the back-cover description is up on the book page (The Five-Day Dig), and here’s a peek at the ad Hubby created today for the December issue of Romance Writers Report. (To get it into the November issue, we would have needed this done earlier.) To see a larger version, click on the image. The little blurb I wrote for the ad doesn’t entirely thrill me, but I think the artwork looks fab. Well done, Hubby!

This is the first time I’ve mentioned the title of the book or described the story publicly. (Scary!) You also get a peek at the cover (still a work-in-progress), if only in black and white. The photo on the cover shows a Roman Memorial, now located at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Triers, Germany.

Not much else to say at the moment. Still busy proofing my homegrown galleys, putting the finishing touches on the cover, and considering ways to promote. I’m a little insane right now.

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