Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015 Edition of The Dead Sea Codex is here!

The Dead Sea Codex is "born again!" (ahem).

It may take time for the older editions to disappear from Amazon.

The new Kindle edition can be found here. All the quotations marks around dialogue have been restored (as they were in the beginning, and ever shall be, amen!).

The new Paperback edition is here

Saturday, November 21, 2015

New Edition of The Dead Sea Codex coming out in December

The Dead Sea Codex is Book 1 in my Lisa Donahue Archaeological Mystery series. In some ways, it is my favorite book. Writing it took me straight back to the almost two years I spent living and studying in Israel in the 1970s. My adventures were nothing like Lisa's, but living in the Middle East was a turning point in my life. I fell in love with archaeology and spent my entire academic career in that field. The experience changed my perspective, influenced my politics, and got me interested in the world's greatest religions.

In this novel, Lisa and a former boyfriend stumble upon a scrap of an ancient codex that two groups desire because of its explosive contents. Dated to the first century AD, the codex details the beliefs of a female disciple of Jesus. The scholars want to find the entire codex and publish it; the conservative Christians want to destroy it.

After discovering that someone had altered the digital files of my original novel to remove all the quotation marks, I decided I really, really needed a new edition (and a new publisher). I am thrilled to be back with Wings ePress with a new, improved edition and an exciting new cover. Here it is:

Wings also published book 3 in the Lisa Donahue series, with another beautiful cover.

This small publisher has an excellent, hardworking staff. My experience this time around was wonderful, even better than the first time. Special thanks to Senior Editor Jeanne Smith, Artist Richard Stroud, Art Director Pat Evans, and Acting President Marilyn Kapp. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Archaeology and Murder News June 2015

Below is my occasional newsletter, reinvented to coincide with the debut of Burnt Siena ...

My newest novel, Burnt Siena, comes out this week (on June 17) from Five Star/Cengage Learning. It begins a new series (The Flora Garibaldi Art History Mysteries). Flora is a young paintings conservator, recently trained in Florence, Italy, who moves to Siena to take a new job with a firm of Italian painters and conservators. Anticipating a dream job using her advanced skills, she is disappointed when her employers sideline her doing menial tasks like mixing gesso and applying gold foil to picture frames. Then, a colleague is murdered and her new job takes her into dangerous territory: forging paintings and smuggling antiquities.
The book comes out simultaneously in Kindle and hardcover.
More murder news: I am re-reading Ellis Peters/Edith Pargeter for her terrific descriptions and wonderful plots. She’s best known for her Brother Cadfael mysteries, but did you know she had several pseudonyms and wrote over 50 books total?
Other news: I had a blast teaching a course on “Archaeology and the Bible” at our local Osher Lifelong Learning center this past semester. A hundred students, ages 50-90, kept me challenged with fascinating questions and showed far more engagement than most undergraduates. The most outrageous site we discussed was the double palace and lake (complete with island) built by Herod the Great at Herodion.
More archaeology news:
Wine-making, anyone? Discovery of ancient pressing floor in Israel by a teen-ager walking her dog!
When I teach archaeology, I point out the obvious: I don’t look at all like Indiana Jones. But this fictional character has changed the world view of archaeology. Check out this new exhibit put on by National Geographic.

And last but not least, mummy news: Researchers continue to make new discoveries about health of Egyptians in ancient times through CT scans and other techniques. But animal mummies also provide surprises: many of them were fakes.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A New Book Cover!

I am delighted to post my new book cover from Five Star. "Burnt Siena" takes place in Siena, Italy. There was some debate (mostly on my part) whether the title should be "Burnt Siena" after the city or "Burnt Sienna" after the painting pigment. As you will see, "Siena" won, and I am pleased because the cover captures both meanings: my favorite city on earth, and the warm brown tones of much of the architecture there.

This will be the first of a new series, the Flora Garibaldi Art History Mysteries. Flora, a paintings conservator, uses many traditional pigments in her restoration work.

Friday, July 18, 2014

After my hip replacement surgery in February, my mood soared when I heard that Five Star Publishing, part of Cengage Learning, had accepted "Burnt Siena" for publication! This is a very exciting development for me since I have worked with very small presses up until now. Five Star is well respected in the mystery field, and many libraries nationwide have standing orders for Five Star mysteries. The novel will appear in June 2015.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My next book...

"Burnt Siena" tells the story of a young conservator who discovers that she is working for an Italian family of traffickers in illegal antiquities. Some of them are also art forgers. Flora Garibaldi McDougal, the daughter of an Italian mother and a Scottish-American father, loves living and working in Siena, Italy, but is dismayed when her dream job becomes corrupted and a colleague is killed.

This book allowed me to invent a whole new set of characters (although Lisa Donahue makes a cameo appearance) and set the action in one of my favorite cities on earth. An international conference a few years ago gave me the opportunity to return to Siena for a week and soak up atmosphere, take pictures of potential scenes for the book, and indulge in my favorite pasta dishes. Our conference was housed in an old psychiatric hospital in the southern part of the city--a fact I could not resist using in the novel.

The research for this book was mesmerizing. The world of illegal antiquities smuggling is now well-documented in books and movies, and art forgery receives nearly as much press. I used books such as Roger Atwood's Stealing History: Tomb Raiders Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World and Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities—From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums. I incorporated my own experiences: traveling in Italy, working in painting conservation as a student at the Cincinnati Art Museum and visiting the Iceman museum in Bolzano.

"Burnt Siena" is currently being proofread before I submit it. I hope I can find a new publishing home for this novel, and that Flora will be the heroine of a new series.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The importance of a book cover that tells your story

Everyone knows the importance of a good-looking book cover, right? I thought I did too, until recently.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a German woman running a book review blog. She wanted me to know that she was posting about "Bound for Eternity," my second book in the Lisa Donahue series. She liked the story and the writing, but found the cover inadequate. I wrote her to ask why, and she told me that although the cover design was fine, the mummy image on the cover (perfectly intelligible to me) looked like "garbage" or a pile of rags to her. I had to admit she was right--to people who hadn't worked with that mummy and known that the deteriorated head contained the remains of a face portrait, it DID look like a pile of rags. Here is the old cover:

Lesson learned. I needed to step back from that project, where I'd been obsessed by the content, and look at the book through the eyes of someone who'd never seen it before. I needed a new cover that was instantly recognizable as a mummy in a museum, a cover that referenced the mystery within. "Bound for Eternity" is the story of an archaeologist who discovers that a clue contained in an Egyptian mummy will help her solve a murder in her Boston museum. The new cover, designed by Josue Atibalentja of NewgenIT (a brand new computer consulting business) and my daughter Emily, does a much better job of telling my story. Here is the new cover:

I liked the new cover so much that when Josue send me an alternate image, I asked if I could use it for the novella form of the longer book. That shorter work, in a Kindle version only, is called" Mummy Dearest." Here is the new cover: