Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some time has passed since I last blogged, but fall has set in and winter is on its way. This is my favorite time of year to research and write. Speaking of research, my favorite go to place is google books. I first learned of google books as a way to promote my book for free. Since then, it has become so much more to me. You can do a book search just like you do a web search. For instance, tonight I typed in the word naditu and it showed me all the books that contain this word. But that is not all, oh no, that is not all. If the book is out of copyright or if the publisher has given their permission, you are allowed to preview the book or in some cases view the entire book. I found that even in instances of preview only, I am often able to find sufficient material simply by perusing multiple texts. If the book is in the public domain, I can download a PDF of it. If I really like the book, I can click a link to "buy" or even "borrow" the book.

So I'm sure you're just dying to know what a naditu is. According to "Women in Antiquity", by Averil Cameron and Amelie Kuhrt, "The naditus (the ones I'm interested in anyway) were a very special group or institution of women, dedicated to the sun god Samas who lived in the city of Sippar in Northern Babylonia." They lived in individual houses within a cloister that was part of a temple complex. They did not marry, for they were betrothed to Samas, but they were property owners and conducted their own business, many of them coming from royal or high ranking families.

Why my interest in this gagum cloister? What a great place to lay low and hide out for a while among an amazing group of women separated from patriarchal society. The tenant list read like a "Who's Who" of the ancient world. There was the sulking Erishti-Aya, daughter of King Zimri-Lim of Mari. Her servants kept dying on her so she had to keep writing daddy begging for more. And there was Iltani, sister of King Hammurabi, one of the most famous kings of all times.

Monday, August 24, 2009

We have been a little lax with the blog-- enjoying our busy summers. Pieces of the Puzzle continues to gain exposure. It was selected as a Finalist in the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Action/Adventure category! Here is an excerpt from the announcement letter:

"Hello and Congratulations!

I am writing with good news. Your book has been named a finalist in the Action/Adventure category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! . . . we will be sending out press releases in the next couple of weeks announcing the Grand Prize Winners and advising media and others where they can see a complete list of Finalists and Winners.

Additionally your book will be listed as a Finalist in the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards catalog which will be distributed at Book Expo America in New York.."

We are busy working on Book Two of the Timekeepers series. In fact, you'll get to read about one of our research adventures in the next blog!

Monday, April 20, 2009

We are feeling a lot more confident with a few more Canadian radio shows under our belts. Last week we were guests on Live 88.5 in Ottawa. We had three interviewers including the infamous Katfish Morgan. They gave us 18 minutes, our longest airtime to that point. They were very professional and fun. It left us feeling incredibly pumped up. Tonight was our longest gig yet. A whopping half hour on 94.5 Bull FM with Joey Martin. It was such a kick, we were surprised when our time was up and felt like we could have kept right on talking. He was very generous with letting us plug both our book and our website. We look forward to more radio interviews and we have a couple of TV deals in the works. We’ll let you know how that works out. For now, we are just looking forward to hearing the results of all the contests we’ve entered. The first finalists will be announced next week!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live Radio

lewis and clark We had our first adventure into AM talk radio today! We were on the Jim Harrison show on Radio NL out of Kamloops B.C. That’s right! A foreign market. What a great experience! This is the interview guest and feature alert that our publicist, Garis PR and Media Group, sent out:

Interview Guest & Feature Alert:

Do People Secretly Think You're Boring?

Our experts will give you some quick tell-tale signs that your life may need some re-adjustment...

-- Has someone recently asked you how you like to have fun -- and you had no answer?

-- Is it hard for you to remember the last time you really laughed? (Not just pretended to laugh).

-- Do you look in your closet and discover you don't even own any "play clothes"?

-- Does your answer to the question "What's new?" always involve your job?

-- In every recent photo are you wearing a suit or high heels?

The answers to these questions and more will reveal your true "Boredom Image".

IN INTERVIEW: Authors and adventure experts, Jennifer Fowler and Carrie Wahl will explain how to tell if your are a being seen as a major bore by others. If your boredom level is too high -- they will give you some fast ways to go from humdrum to exciting. You will be a much healthier person and way more popular by lowering your boredom factor with these great tips.

Fowler and Wahl are world class adventurers, and the authors of the hot new adventure book "Pieces Of The Puzzle". They are fun and dynamic guests. Your audience will love this very entertaining interview.

AVAILABILITY: Idaho and worldwide by telephone, satellite or special arrangement.

It is easier to get media access with a pop culture related topic, so we went with an adventure format since it is embodies who we are and can be tied to Pieces of the Puzzle, which is an action adventure novel.

We were supposed to have ten minutes, but that was reduced to seven since they were running out of time. Because of this, the host had to jump around a little bit in the material and we were unable to use some of our very clever stories and quips. At least one question caught us off guard. Of course after we got off the phone, a really insightful reply came to us! On the bright side, our names and the name of our book were announced on air in a city of 80,000 plus population.

We are looking forward to more media interviews and associated book sales!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Native American Rock Art

Being from Idaho, I naturally want to bring at least one of the Timekeepers close to home. While no major civilization arose in my state 4,000 years ago, a fascinating group of people did call this land their home at that time. Early Nez Perce people were hunting and fishing the waterways of North Central Idaho at the same time Hammurabi was passing down his code of laws. I am fortunate to live less than two hours from a phenomenal legacy of a forgotten language. Hundreds of petroglyphs are carved onto basaltic bedrock outcroppings on both sides of the Snake River at Buffalo Eddy. They are easily accessible and unspeakably mesmerizing. This summer I plan to spend several meditative hours on the bank of the river letting their story play itself out in my head before I put it to paper. --Carrie

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Hammurabi Hammurabi will be one of the key historical figures in book two of the Timekeepers series.  Because of this, I have been eagerly studying  both Hammurabi and Babylonian civilization during the time of his reign.
Hammurabi, who ruled from 1792 to 1750 BC, is the most famous king of the first dynasty of Babylon.  Prior to his accession to the throne, Babylon was one of the many city-states that blanketed Mesopotamia, having taken in a few neighboring city-states as well, reaching a modest size of 60 by 160 kilometers.  By the end of Hammurabi’s reign, Babylonian territory had grown to encompass all the land stretching southward between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers from what is modern Baghdad to the Persian Gulf.
Hammurabi is most famous for his law code consisting of more than 300 laws which are carved on a stone stela and now on  display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.  Besides being an early promoter of justice, Hammurabi was also a great ruler, diplomat, and warrior.  He is also known for the broad array of public works projects he oversaw throughout Babylonia.
Many details of Hammurabi’s reign have been revealed through cuneiform tablets found at the site of an ancient palace at Mari, a palace internationally renowned for its splendor.  Its archives are a bountiful source of information for the history of the entire region at that time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Independent Book Publisher Contests

clip_image002One of our promotional goals is to either win, or at least be named as a finalist in a literary contest.  We have chosen five prestigious self-published book award contests to enter:

We just received verification that Hopewell Publications, sponsor of the Eric Hoffer Award, received our book and application for their contest by the January 21st deadline.  This contest was established  at the beginning of this century “as a means of opening a door to writing of significant merit.”  It has a grand prize of $1500 and offers other honors and distinctions.  It was the least expensive contest to enter at $45.  Winners for the Eric Hoffer Award will be announced after April 30th.

The entry that we are am working on this weekend is “The Next Generation Indie Book Awards”.  It has a $75  early bird (January 31) entry fee, but you get to enter one title in two different categories.  Of course that means we  have to send them two copies of the book, so that increases expenses.  Their final deadline is March 15.  They offer three cash prizes ($1000 for first) and trophies for best fiction and non fiction books, plus medals for the winners of their 70 different categories.  Their will be 10 finalists in each category.  Although this distinction only garners a certificate, you do get the honor of putting a gold sticker on your book that says you were a finalist in their contest.  You also receive “maximum exposure and possible representation with a leading New Your literary representative.” Finalists will be notified by May 15th and winners by May 30th.

We’ll have a bit of a financial break until the March 21 deadline for the Independent Book Publisher Book Awards (IPPY).  We already missed the Nov. 15 early bird deadline, so it cost $85 rather than $75 to enter.  This contest is twelve years old and based on the more than 3000 entries they receive each year, it is the biggest independent book award contest in the world.  They have 65 different categories to choose from.  They also offer special awards in three categories including “Most Original Concept, Storyteller of the Year, and Most Inspirational to Youth” any one of which we’d be thrilled to win!  They only offer gold, silver, and bronze medals, but the stickers you get to put on your books are awesome!

The deadline for National Indie Excellence Awards is March 31.  There is a $59 entry fee for one category, or $118 for two.  We’ll probably take our chances with one!  The awards consist of publicity packages, and again, those wonderful stickers to put on the cover of your book that improve sales.

One of the biggest contests is sponsored by Writer’s Digest.  The grand Prize is $3000 plus amazing promotional bonuses in addition to 10 1st place awards of $1000 each.  It is also the most expensive to enter at $100, and probably the most competitive as they are accepting entries published within the last five years.

We are excited to see the results for all of these contests.  We hope to win at least one grand prize and recoup some of the investment we have pumped into this venture!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rise of Civilization

ancient-babylon-2   What is civilization?  The answer is not easily defined, and is broadly debated.   There are competing theories over every other aspect of the ancient world, why would simple definitions be spared?  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a civilization is “a relatively high level of cultural and technological development ; specifically : the stage of cultural development at which writing and the keeping of written records is attained.”  Other expert sources tend to elaborate on the specific features of a civilization such as hierarchical societies, division of labor, elaborate religious centers, smelting of metals, agricultural sophistication, development of writing, etc.  Is a system of writing a necessary factor if many of the other factors of civilization are in place?  I think that ultimately the labeling of an ancient culture or society as a civilization is subjective .
Historically,  major world cultures have vied for the  distinction of having the oldest civilization.  China  boasts a civilization stretching back 6000 years, while Mesopotamia in modern day Iraq is commonly referred to as the “cradle of civilization.”   If a system of writing or recordkeeping is a necessary criteria, we have to jump forward in Chinese history to the time of the Shang dynasty (17th century BCE) to find evidence of civilization. 
We can’t say for certain in what order some of them arose, but we do know that several ancient cultures were on the scene contemporarily as depicted in Pieces of the Puzzle including  the Yellow River Valley in China, Caral in Peru, the Indus Valley, the Nile valley in Egypt, the island of Crete, and Sumer in Mesopotamia.  In honor of them and in gratitude of the story they inspired, I heartily label them all “civilizations.”

Monday, January 5, 2009

Judging Internet Sources

As one of our research duties, we are still sifting through the mountains of information on the internet. It seems Wikipedia is the best first place to go with a new lead, not because everything there is reliable, but the sources listed at the bottom of the page often are. One of the first things you must do when judging a source is determine whether it is a primary or secondary source. Was it written by someone who observed the event personally, was it an autobiography? Or was it recorded by someone centuries later? With ancient history, especially on the scale we’re working with, secondary is often all we have. With secondary information, we have to judge the author. Are they reliable, experts in their field, without bias? In many cases, we have equally reliable sources that contradict each other. Of course this can be beneficial in that it can offer a more panoramic view of the event. We are also looking for timely information. We attempt to seek out the latest archaeological evidence. Caral in Peru is an example. It was originally discovered about 50 years ago, but was largely left alone until 14 years ago. Since then it has been excavated to the point that is expected to be the second most popular tourist attraction in Peru, right after Machu Picchu. It was also a featured civilization in Pieces of the Puzzle!

We often go about researching with an idea in mind, we look for places that can further our story line, as Caral did. In the second book, we will be shifting away from our American pre-Incan civilizations and jumping into early Mayan. Mayan history is divided up into several periods. Looking at early pre-classic (2000 to 1000BC), we find first evidence of distinct “Mayan” civilizations in Sonusco, Mexico beginning around 1800 BC. This region just happens to border Guatemala where we find occupation as early as 1800 BC in Monte Alto. There it is! We’ve found the Mayans for our second book. Now we have to find reliable sources that support this, dig up as many facts as we can, while not discarding the gray matter- for this is where we can really run with the fictional aspects of the story.