Don’t miss the ride of your life—Starting July 23, The Cairo Codex e-book goes on sale for only $1.99 and includes the beginning chapters of the next book in the Justine Trilogy: The Italian Letters.

July 12th, 2014

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Finding a narrator smarter than you are!

June 23rd, 2014

This was a goal, a desire of prolific writer Norman Mailer. I have been thoroughly entranced by the idea of finding a smarter alter ego. Even the omnipotent narrator falls short because, while she knows everything, it is everything that you as author know and think. So how does an author transcend self? Find that iconic self that challenges your more conscious self. Is she hidden inside, in the nooks and crannies of those silken gray folds? Mailer made an easy choice. In his last novel, Castle in the Forest, his narrator was the Devil. Ah.

Answering your own questions makes you smarter.

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“The Art of Setting the Senses on Edge”

June 8th, 2014

That’s how Anthony Tommasini titled his excellent column on music and dissonance (NYT, June 1, 14). In reference to Milton’s use of “barbaric dissonance,” the author waded–no–jumped right into the many understandings of dissonance from politics, to music, to psychology. I had been the most familiar with cognitive dissonance as that state of internal tension arising from contradictions, confusions, that we must make right. Those eternal puzzles that cause our heads to spin. Problems that leap at us during the night and steal our sleep away.

Well, Tommasini’s discussion of the clashing, barbarous, discordant sounds in music are not unlike those tight-wire puzzles in novels. Such cases of dissonance indeed set “the senses on edge.”  Here are a few cases that occur to me at the moment when the author:

1) dangles a subtle unknown before the reader with just a brush of puzzlement. What could this mean? Lead to?

2) two barbarous acts confront the reader, yet the narrator isn’t aware of the contradiction. You want to cry out–look, can’t you see!

3) a fine mesh of small descriptors about a character hints at impending transformation–or disaster! We don’t know which.

4) a directly-declared, barbaric crime (Sherlock-style), yet you know that there will be nothing direct or obvious about the resolution. Arthur Conan Doyle makes sure of that.

Next up: Norman Mailer’s hunt to find a narrator “more intelligent than he was.”

Linda

 

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The Cairo Codex wins 3 awards

May 7th, 2014

The Cairo Codex, has now won three prestigious 2014 awards: the Silver Nautilus Award for fiction, the Bronze International Independent Publishers Award for historical fiction, and was a finalist in the USA Best Books Award competition.  The Cairo Codex, a riveting novel of suspense, politics, religion, and romance is set in Egypt during the years 2 and 2007. Anthropologist Justine Jenner discovers the diary of Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, in an ancient crypt during a major earthquake. She barely survives with the codex and her life, both threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood.

I became enthralled with Egypt as a young girl when my mother enchanted me with tales of her own alleged reincarnation from Egyptian royalty. In 1989, I became a State Department Envoy to Egypt and began two decades of exploration of its culture. I’ve  written several internationally-recognized books in the field of leadership, none as fun as fiction! Before fiction, I was an administrator, history instructor, international consultant, and am professor emeritus at California State University, East Bay.

 The second novel in The Justine Trilogy, The Italian Letters, will be released this fall (I know, I know, I said July!) and the third novel, A Rapture of Ravens, in early 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nautilus Award–What is it? Why Nautilus?

April 27th, 2014

This week our grandson, Jered, was quick to suggest the origin of the Nautilus Award. Of course, I realized.  Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine, the Nautilus. Verne is revered for his imagination, innovation, creativity.

My historical novel, The Cairo Codex, won a 2014 Silver Nautilus Award for Fiction. The awards will be announced on May 1. The awards represent “Better Books for a Better World.” Now in its 15th year, this unique book award program seeks, honors, awards, and promotes print books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities and global citizens.
 
Dedicated to excellence and the highest literary standards, the Nautilus Awards seek and promote well-written and -produced books with messages about caring for, understanding, and improving every aspect of our lives and relationships.
 

I’m proud to be a member of the Nautilus family!

 

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Lessons Learned about Writing…Trusting Yourself

April 13th, 2014

Is it difficult to trust yourself when you are writing? Not surprising if it is. Writers get so much advice: do this, don’t do this, that sometimes it feels as though it would be easy to lose your own voice in the process. You want to write with a desperation that feels like you’re growing a tapeworm inside, says Mario Vargas Llosa in his marvelous little book, Letters to a Young Novelist. In order to generate that passion and calm confidence in play side by side, you need to trust yourself. How do you know when you are trusting yourself?

1) That part of your brain that exits through your fingers moves along well, then you look at the screen, smile and say, “I didn’t know I knew/felt that”!

2) You’re not writing at the moment, but walking, or dreaming, reflecting, watching the sun float through the trees, and you have an epiphany. Believe me, you can trust that insight.

3) You are having tea and devouring that delicious French cookie known as the Madeleine and you can taste and smell your grandmother’s baking, bask in her love, feel the new shoes you worn that day in your youth. Thank Marcel Proust for this delightful observation (see Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life) about the dance of the mind when the senses are invoked.

more soon, Linda

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Lessons for Beginning Writers

April 1st, 2014

A few writers have asked me to post some lessons I’ve learned about writing. Hundreds, actually! I thought I’d start with a few of the reminders I keep posted around….

• BE WILD AND WONDERFUL, LET YOUR IMAGINATION FLY. OSCAR WILDE SAID, “LET YOUR MIND MISBEHAVE.”

• ADD SENSUOUS DETAIL AND “BRUSH STROKES” THAT GIVE TEXTURE AND WHIMSY

• GO LEAN, THEN ENRICH

• TAKE AWAY AGREEMENT–DIALOGUE SHOULD BE LIKE A SWORD FIGHT

more tomorrow!

 

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Coming Soon: the Second Book in the Justine Trilogy

March 11th, 2014

In August, 2013, The Cairo Codex, the first book in the Justine Trilogy, was released. In the beginning for this riveting trilogy, anthropologist Justine Jenner discovers a lost codex belonging to Mary, mother of Jesus. Readers particularly find and applaud the details describing Egypt and the build-up to the revolutions to be of compelling interest.

Now, I can forecast the publication of the second book in the Trilogy.

The Italian Letters lies in the sensuous curvature of ancient and present day Italy. The sequel to The Cairo Codex, follows the life of anthropologist Dr. Justine Jenner after she is expelled from Egypt in the wake of discovering and making public a controversial codex, the diary of the Virgin Mary. Exiled into Tuscany, Jenner finds herself embroiled in three interwoven stories of discovery: the long-lost letters from D.H. Lawrence to her great-grandmother, Isabella; an Etruscan tomb revealing the origin and migration of an ancient people predating Rome; and the genealogy of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. While shaken by the frank revelations in Lawrence’s letters and the intimate relationship between the primeval Etruscans and Jesus’ mother, Justine must confront her own sexuality and yearning for personal freedom. The Italian Letters is riveted with literary, religious and archeological history and international politics, each narrative magnifying and altering the meaning of the others.

 

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Book Clubs! Schedule a Phone Conversation with me!

February 12th, 2014

Recently, a member of a book club asked if I might be in Kansas City on a day scheduled for a meeting. They planned to discuss my novel, The Cairo Codex. I find such conversations exciting indeed! However, since I won’t be in the vicinity on that certain date, I suggested a speaker phone or Skype Q&A discussion. I hope to hear from you about scheduling such a conversation. Or, depending on the place and time, we might be able to schedule one in person.

 

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Bono and Elon Musk on Creativity

January 17th, 2014

The day after Christmas, I told the story of the two Kents, each with a different process for writing novels or stories. Last week, Fareed Zakaria interviewed two talented individuals carved on two sides of the coin of creativity.

Bono and Elon Musk experience creativity as differently as the two Kents experience writing. You are familiar with Bono, the musician and social activist. Musk is the creator of the Tesla electric car and Space X. The questions at hand: “How are you creative? What does it mean to you? How does your creativity work?”

For Bono, creativity is that magical, flaming flash of creation surfacing from the well of God. Lyrics may appear full blown in the early morning, in the night. Musk, on the other hand, sees creativity as hard work–pushing until the brain hurts. Two men, two sets of experiences. Both with bountiful creativity.

I’ve heard people say: “I’m not creative because it doesn’t come easy, in flashes. I have to work too hard.” Yet, clearly, there isn’t a “right” way to write, to think, or to create. How does creativity happen for you?

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