The Beautiful Woman Has Come

The Beautiful Woman Has Come
A Historical Novel by Debra Giuffrida

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Teaser

Waking up this morning I glanced at my phone and saw a Facebook notification. The brief blurb mentioned that it was Friday and I was shocked. Friday? Already? Where had the week gone? So I thought how about an excerpt from The Beautiful Woman has Come? Sounds good to me!

Just a short lead in. Helen, now called Nefertiti, has been taking her evening meals with Great Royal Wife Tiye at the new royal palace across the river from the main town of Waset (I know, everyone calls it Thebes, but that's a Greek name and the Greeks only got to call it that when Alexander came and made Ptolemy Pharaoh!). In this excerpt, we will see SitAmun, eldest daughter of NebMaatRa and Tiye, and Auset, SitAmun's sister.

The Beautiful Woman has Come

by Debra Giuffrida
copyright 2016, all rights reserved

My days spent here in Waset were long, hot and devoid of entertainment. Auset had not requested my company nor had anyone else of the royal family, for that matter. So I sat either in my bedchamber or under the sunshade within the family garden.
The evenings I shared my meal with the Great Royal Wife in her garden within the House of Rejoicing. Tiye had taken it upon herself to be my educator in all things political. Some nights Auset and her companion Ana would join us. These nights were some of the most pleasant. Tiye would always request Auset sing for us. I had been correct. Her voice was lyrical and with good range and power when needed.
All the women in attendance would fall silent listening to the King’s daughter sing of unrequited love, new love, lost love, and gods and goddesses. Ana would accompany her on the lyre and the two made a pretty pair sitting within a circle of lamplight.

One evening Sitamun came. Accompanied by several young girls and an older woman, she walked over to one of the couches and sat. Immediately two of her attendants ran and fetched their mistress a golden chased goblet and filled it with wine from off Tiye’s table. This elicited a shocked reaction from the Great Wife’s table servant. The young girl sucked in her breath and her eyes grew round and wide.
“Em hotep, daughter,” Tiye said walking into the room. Sitamun watched her mother sit on the largest pillow-strewn couch.
“I was lonely and wanted company for the twelfth-hour meal,” Sitamun replied to an unspoken question.
“You are always welcome here, Sitamun.”
“Nefertiti,” Sitamun turned her kohl-rimmed eyes in my direction. “Do. You. Understand. What. I. Am. Saying?” Her staccato words were punctuated by a brief tight smile.
“She is very conversant, you may be assured she understands you.” Tiye took a long drink of wine from an offered electrum goblet all the while looking at Sitamun over the cup’s rim. “Now, what really brings you here?”
“I told you, mother, I was lonely. Moses is still in MenNefer and I needed some entertainment. Is Auset joining us? I do so enjoy her singing.” Another tight smile but this time she ended it with a sip of wine. Sitamun’s girls bustled around gathering plates of food for their mistress. The older bent back woman stood at the King’s daughter’s elbow and glared at each of the girls, occasionally pointing a long nailed finger by way of direction.
“Auset is in the middle of a new weaving and she declined my open invitation.”
“Oh. Nefertiti, do you sing?” Sitamun took a piece of roast duck from an offered plate and tore tiny pieces from the slice, putting each into her mouth, chewing slowly, her unblinking eyes staring at me.
“No, I am afraid that my voice is far from sweet. My talents lay elsewhere.”
“Then where do your talents lay...cousin?” She tore another piece of duck and popped it into her mouth.
“I enjoy athletic games, running the stade—,”
Stade? What is that?” Another piece of duck disappeared into Sitamun’s mouth.
“That is a distance, I am not sure of the Kemeteyu equivalent. I run with other girls. The fastest wins. What are your talents...cousin?” I felt no familial love for this Aegyptos King’s daughter. Tiye sat quietly listening to our exchange. I glanced at her and saw her bite her lip and sniff, possibly to cover a smile.
“My talents?” Sitamun raised an eyebrow, then ran a hand down her sheer linen over robe, “I am King’s daughter, beloved of my father, wife of the iry pat Djehutymose, my talent will be to provide the next son to sit upon the throne of Heru.”  
This statement caused Tiye to glare at her daughter. What was it that elicited such a response from the Great Royal Wife? Surely she knew that Sitamun was to be a royal broodmare.
“You will have ample time to accomplish that feat, my dear. My son’s barge was sighted and should be at the water steps some time after Ra is born.”
Sitamun stood up and dropped the remaining tiny piece of duck.
“How long have you known? Why did you keep this from me?”
“Are your spies lacking, daughter? I would acquire new ones if I were you. Your father’s new Royal Wife from Naharin is aboard.”
Sitamun’s eyes grew large, narrowed into slits, and she glared at her mother. Without a word she turned her back and walked out of the room, her head high, shoulders square, her followers hurrying their steps to keep up with their mistress.
“Well, now, Nefertiti, how have you been occupying your time? Are you learning some of our old stories? Is Huya still teaching you?” she took a sip of wine, then handed the goblet to the girl close at hand.
I looked from Sitamun’s retreating back to Tiye.
“Close your mouth, my dear. Sitamun is a jealous girl. NebMaatRa’s new child bride will keep her busy and out of your business. You can thank me later.”
“I am not sure I follow, why is Sitamun possibly jealous of her?”
“The concubines and wives of the Son of the Sun will become those of the next Son of the Sun. The younger and prettier ones are a threat to my daughter. Do you understand?” Tiye took a rolled lettuce leaf from an offered platter. She eyed it, turning it about. “Where is the boy?” All was quiet for several beats of my heart. A small boy was brought forth. Tiye smiled at him and handed him the lettuce bundle. The boy looked up at his nurse who nodded her head and also smiled. Only then did the boy take the offered food from the queen.
The child was a poison tester.
I found myself holding my breath, waiting, as we all were, for the boy to live or die. He did not die, this time. When the nurse made to take him away Tiye shook her head and motioned for him to sit beside her chair. Tonight he would test everything for the queen.
Perhaps she felt ill at ease due to Sitamun’s unannounced visit? Or were there others that wished this Great Royal Wife ill? My stomach clenched and I thought better of eating here in Tiye’s garden.

She must have felt my trepidation. Tiye only allowed me to eat after the boy had tested the food upon her platters. Even so, I ate very little but drank far more of the Per A’a’s wine than I should have.


Have a lovely weekend. See you back here Monday!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Fear of Rewriting & Editing

The end is in sight. That's what I keep telling myself as I type "The End" then erase it and add another scene, or two.

I thought it was complete about 6 months ago. But then I added a new beginning and had to edit that. Then added Part Two to the whole shebang! Perhaps I am afraid that if it is finished I may fail to sell the thing to anybody. Or no one will want to read it, or it is so awful that I will be laughed at. Two other authors have beaten me to the punch on my subject of choice. Should I give up now or forge ahead?

This brings me to a story of a friend who wrote her dream novel. It didn't sell so she put it in the drawer. Then she thought up another novel banged it out and it sold! Will that be my fate? To write my dream and have to put it in a box that I will cart around for a year or two until I sell something else? Is that a bad thing?

It's only 101 degrees in the shade at the stroke of noon. I'm camping on asphalt in the desert and trying not to melt. You are probably staring bug-eyed at your computer or phone screen. Only 101 degrees?!? Well, you see, the outside temperatures have been hovering around 114, 116 or so for the last few days so 101 is kinda balmy! Being stuck indoors for the past few days is making me antsy. To add insult to injury I had knee surgery recently. I want to get out and walk around but that has been doubly impossible.

So what has this to do with finishing my book? Just excuses. I have to type "The End" and stick to it. I'm just reluctant.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ancient Poetry or Argh! She used the same poem!

Well, I decided to dive back into reading a colleagues book. I've been very bad about reading lately, mostly because I can't seem to shut my brain off. All my current problems are running back and forth in a game of zoomies. If you are a dog owner you will understand what zoomies are. If not, well, it's when your critter runs full tilt boogie back and forth, round and round until they drop from exhaustion. It's fun to watch when it's your fur baby but awful when it's "what if" scenerios in your brain.

Well, back to the book. It had been waiting with baited breath for Stephanie to write her book on Hatshepsut, why? Because she is a PanHistoria alumnus and one of her writing identities was Hatshepsut and she did a bang up job. So of course I wanted to read her novel when it debuted. Unfortunately, when it appeared on Amazon it was also the start of my Greek Tragedy of a life. I thought that purchasing the Kindle version would help me disappear from my reality but, alas, my "sh@t" was too strong. that my life is evening out I decided to pick up her book and lo and behold, staring me right in the face was this awesome poem.

In my WIP it is titled: The Lay of the Harpist. It's so fitting as a tribute to a doomed King's Son. But now I must find another verse. Hey, life happens when you're a reluctant author.

"...revel in pleasure while your life endures
And deck your head with myrrh.
Be richly clad in white and perfumed linen;
Like the gods anointed be;
And never weary grow
In eager quest of what your heart desires--
Do as it prompts you too..."


Friday, June 10, 2016

One Year & A Half Before the Mast

I have a cold.

My brain is fogged and I am stumbling around with an almost empty box of tissues in one hand and a crumpled soggy tissue in the other.

Yesterday was PitMad and I ventured into Twitter hell to pitch my Helen/Nefertiti novel and garnered one like. One like. I guess ancient historical fiction isn’t as coveted as YA magical dragons or LGBT story lines. Either that or my pitch sucked.

“A Priestess’ hoax sends Helen to Egypt to become a great queen and watch the Trojan War from afar.”

“Helen of Sparta, tricked into going to Egypt, must survive power hungry Royal family & rule them all.”

“For Paris’ love Helen risks it all. What she gets is Egypt’s King, throne & a new identity.”

Okay, those are the three pitches I used. Do they stink?