The Lucky 7 Club – The blogging game for authors #amwriting cc @leighkhunt

I was invited by Leigh K Hunt to join the “Lucky 7” Club. How exciting!

It is a blogging game for authors. The rules are that you must post an excerpt from one of your books it has to be seven sentences, lines or paragraphs from page 77, seven lines down.

Here is my entry, an extract from my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation.

“You have to admit it’s a curious thing. Why did the Maya end their calendar so mysteriously? With their amazing skills, was there something they could see that we can’t? What will happen on that last day?”

“It ends sometime in December this year doesn’t it?” Andrew queried.

“The twenty-first of December. It’s not long away now,” Ben said. “It would be amazing if the Codex might shed some light.”

“Could it?”

“I hope so. It would be an even greater find if it was to reveal more about what the ancients believed would happen on that end day. We don’t have much to go on. It’s such a mystery.”

Andrew looked at the stone for a long moment before responding. “It might make it clearer that nothing at all will happen on the last day, and stop all this crazy talk.”

“Or,” Ben looked at Andrew seriously, “it might confirm the calendar’s ominous message,” Ben replied.

“We have six months to find out.”

#

Thank you Leigh! Anyone else want to play?

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Do I believe in 2012? #endtimes #kindle #mayan

Many people, after reading my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation,  have asked me if I believe in the “myth” about the 21st of December, 2012. Will the events depicted in my story really happen? When the predicted 5th age comes, will it really be the end times?

I answer “No,” but with a tiny caveat. I must confess, during my research into this subject,  I occasionally had a wee pang of concern. So many strange things do come together around this time however, I’m a happy optimist by nature, and a realist. The world won’t end for billions of years, when the sun expands and the earth is destroyed.

But, could “mankind” be greatly dimished by some disaster, eh, probably. It’s happened 65 million years ago with the dinosaurs so we can’t be blind to that. Something big will go down one day but, hopefully, it will be far in the future.

The fact is I admire and respect the ancient Maya civilization and their remarkable ability to study time. The most important thing to know about the Maya was their incredible knowledge of architecture, writing, mathematics, and the solar system. They charted the sky, every inch of it. The famous Stone of the Sun, housed in the National Museum in Mexico City, seems to indicate the end of an age looms ever closer.

Why did they do that? Could they see something we can’t? Is it the “end” or a “new beginning?” When is the actual date?

The Maya, and Aztecs who followed, called this the “the fifth and final age.” The actual end date, 21st of December, 2012,  is up for debate. Experts have analysed and done calculations, but whether the exact date is accurate, we don’t know. Perhaps they have mis-calculated? Perhaps not…

In my own novel, I tried to be as factual as possible. My main character, Andrew Cunningham, does not believe in the “end of days”. That makes him real. He’s a regular guy, trying to find the answer.

I am a writer and wrote a fictional story. Whether you believe or not, I find the subject fascinating.

I say let’s all be happy, love, live life to the fullest and pursue your dreams 🙂

Will I be in a ‘dark place’ on December the 21st?

I’ll let you know closer the time 😉

Lisa xox

2012 The Final Revelation – Sample Chapter #samplesunday #amreading #kindle

This is a sample from Chapter Five.

The team gathered back in the center of the camp. Tents were half built and Andrew could see the relief etched into the faces of the sweating students as they got to take a break from the hot, challenging work. They sat on the ground while the rest of the team had the luxury of sitting on green canvas chairs. Afi stood.

Andrew noticed his father’s face was aglow and alive, and it was clear the students and staff could feel excitement in the air. Although they were all well aware of the new tomb, Andrew could tell everyone was curious about all the murmurings and whisperings filling the air between himself, Baxter, and his father.

“Right,” John began, “let’s have a moment together. Settle down,” he said.

The crowd hushed.

“Well here we are, nestled in the highlandrain forest of Chiapas. Palenque is considered to be one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the entire Maya world.” John paced back and forth as he talked. “We have so much still to discover and find in the region and are blessed to have this opportunity to be a part of history.” He glanced over at Andrew.

Andrew nodded. He was proud to be one of the few archaeologists in the country that was permitted to peel back the layers of time and learn more about the Maya people.

Even in ruins, the city of Palenque was impressive and still guarded secrets yet to be unraveled by the archaeologist’s trowel. Alongside Andrew and his team, other archaeological and research teams were studying and excavating in the area to uncover more of the mysteries and enigmas surrounding the ancient civilization of the Maya. Large areas of the ancient city were roped off to visitors as teams worked to reveal hidden treasures.

“Tell the students more about the area will you, Andrew,” his father requested.

“Sure.” Andrew stood and spoke. “The vegetation is so thick here in the forest that Palenque town residents, and the local Maya Indians, lived in the area for almost two hundred and fifty years before discovering the ancient ruins. Around 1786 a man called Don Antonio delRio led a team and cut back the jungle, clearing the land. The site of Palenque covers fifteen square kilometers and contains hundreds of buildings, of which only forty have been uncovered or restored. The finding of a tomb and contents is a huge discovery.”

“Indeed a big discovery,” his father interrupted.

“We are going to be really busy the next few weeks now that we have a new tomb,” Andrew continued. “Some of the crew will work with you on our original dig site. You never know what else we might find.”

Andrew nodded at his father and sat back down.

“Thank you, Andrew,” his father said, looking at the students. “We will also find the time to take you on a tour of the Palenque ruins.”

The students all nodded enthusiastically.

John continued on. “Palenque shows us the highest point in the art of the late-classic period, between 600 to 800 AD. The Maya architecture and their artwork reached the zenith of expression at this site.”

Everybody listened intently.

“The Temple of Inscriptions is one of the best preserved Maya temples. We have learned so much from the hieroglyphic tablets and stelae. In 1952, what was found there?” he asked.

There was silence a moment before a student called out, “A tomb.”

“Yes,” John said. “Who found it?”

“Mexican archaeologist, Alberto Ruz Lhuillier.”

“Excellent, yes,” John replied. “It was an incredible find. The texts indicated the tomb belonged to a leader called Pacal the Great. He ruled the land for sixty-eight years,” he paused, interlocking his fingers. “It took Alberto four years to clear the rubble from the stairway. He found an elaborately carved sarcophagus with the king’s human remains still lying inside it. His body was adorned with the richest offering of jade ever seen in a Maya tomb. He was wearing a jade mask over his face and a jade suit.” John began to walk around the students. “When did he rule?”

“615 to 683 AD, Sir.”

“Correct. When he was twelve years old, he assumed power. During his rule, he set in motion the vast rebuilding of Palenque, emphasizing the construction of grandiose buildings to reflect his power. One of his great structures was the Palace, covered with stucco carvings of rulers, gods, and ceremonies.”

Andrew listened intently. He knew all this information, but loved watching his father’s teaching style, passionate and knowledgeable.

“Who can tell me about the ancient Maya writings?” John asked the students.

After a few seconds three hands shot up.

“Martin,” John said, pointing to the youth.

“They wrote in hieroglyphic writing. It was very complex and they had hundreds of signs in the form of abstract designs.”

“Yes, excellent reply! The Maya writing system had an extensive set of phonetic signs that represented individual sounds like in alphabetic systems. The earliest examples of Maya writing were created during the pre-classic period. The unit of the writing system is the glyphic cartouche, which is equivalent to the words and sentences of our modern language.” John scratched his chin then sat himself back down on a chair. “Now,” he continued the lesson. “What did they write about? Mary.” He pointed at the teenage girl.

“They documented historical and social events. Like birth and death and that….” Mary trailed off.

“What else?”

“Astronomical events,” another voice piped up.

“Yes, yes, good. What else?”

“Torture and death.”

“Yes, important later in time. Initially, the Maya recorded lines of succession, important dates, genealogy too; but in later years they documented the capture of enemies, torture, and death. Right, next question, what did they use to write on?”

Hands shot up, including Baxter’s. Ignoring his wild humorous gesturing, his father pointed to a student.

“Carved in stone, Sir.”

“What else?” John asked.

“Ceramics and pottery.”

“Walls? Made of Stucco?” another student added.

“Yes, well done. Our newly discovered tomb appears to have that construction material, but we will have to wait until that’s confirmed….” John paused, as if pondering his next question. “Anyway, what is stucco made of?”

“Stucco is made from sand, lime, and water, Sir.”

“Good, yes. What else did they write on?” John asked, raising himself off his chair and walking around again.

Typical teacher. Andrew thought.

Silence.

The students sat, some eyes were cast downward, others looking around at each other.

“Books,” Leanne, the other female student in the group said, “called Codices.”

“Excellent!” the Professor almost bellowed. Andrew saw her smile with relief. “Yes books! The Maya would pound bark into pulp with stone implements called bark beaters. Natural gums were used as a bonding substance to hold the pulp together. Then they would apply a coating of fine white lime to both sides of the paper, providing a smooth finish they could paint on. Does anyone know what they wrote with?”

No one replied.

“It is thought they would use quills made of feathers, wood and other implements,” John answered his own question. “Now, how many Maya Codices have ever been found?”

“Four, Sir.” Leanne answered again. “The others were burned by the Spanish.”

“And how many Aztec Codices are there?”

Silence.

“A lot more,” John said, obviously realizing the question was a tricky one to answer. “There are only a few surviving pre-conquest Codices, but there are as many as five hundred Colonial-era Codices dating around the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. One of the more beautiful older ones, painted around 1530, about a decade after the conquest, is the Boturnini Codex. A piece of art I myself have studied.” He began pacing as he talked. “It is on one long sheet of fig bark, folded accordion style and is around twenty one pages long. The pictures tell the story of the Aztec journey to the valley of Mexico.” He stopped talking.

Andrew looked around the group. The whole team, including Afi, were totally captivated. He looked back to his father as he resumed talking.

“Anyway I digress, that was about the Aztec Codices. Now we are talking about the rarer Maya versions. Leanne mentioned they were burned by the Spanish. Yes, this did indeed happen. Many books, both Maya and Aztec, were destroyed when the Spanish tried to convert the population to Christianity.” Professor Cunningham scratched his head and looked around at his captive audience. “Now let’s see if I can remember this quote,” he said, still scratching his head as if to recall it. “We found a great number of books and since they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the devil, we burned them, which they took most grievously, and it gave them great pain.” I think I might have a few words wrong there but it’s about right. Now who spoke those words? Andrew?” John asked his son.

Andrew knew the answer immediately.

In 1519, six hundred Spaniards and native allies, led by Don Hernando Cortes, arrived at the metropolis the Aztecs had built on a lake island, now known as Mexico. Although the Maya cities were in ruins centuries before, the mighty Aztec culture was rich and economically, politically, and religiously powerful. The Spanish were amazed by the splendors they saw, great temples and palaces and incredible marvels. Even so, the Spaniards considered the Aztec to be barbarians and aimed to attack and steal their riches and convert them to Christianity.

“Bishop Diego de Landa,” Andrew answered.

“When?”

“By 1566, they started gathering up all the writings they could find to burn them. A few missionaries saved as much indigenous literature they could find so they could protect them and escape the fire.”

“So,” John went on, not acknowledging Andrew’s correct answers. “Although there are a number of Aztec writings, we do know that only four Maya glyph books survived. Can anyone tell me the name of any of the four Maya Codices that have been found?”

Andrew noticed his field team looking over at him, wondering where this line of questioning was going and whispering amongst themselves. He caught Baxter’s eye and grinned. Baxter smiled back. They both knew the plan to announce the find. Baxter was clearly enjoying the line of questioning.

“The Dresden Codex,” Leanne called out again.

“Yes, the most famous, most beautiful, most complete and best understood of all the Codices. It has served as our most important source of information about Maya astronomy. The Dresden Codex has around seventy four pages. The artist used both sides of the paper and painted them with a fine brush. The Codex is housed securely in a glass cabinet inDresden, hence its name.”

Everyone was listening.

“Now, what are the other three called?” John asked again. When no one replied he turned to the archaeological team sitting by Andrew. “Team?”

“Grolier Codex, a fragment of eleven pages.”

“Paris Codex.”

“Madrid Codex.”

“Which of the four is the one still debated?” John asked.

“The Grolier Codex is the most recently discovered and its authenticity is still furiously debated,” Baxter answered.

“Very good, yes,” John replied. “It was said to have been found in a wooden box in a cave not far from here, in Chiapas. It is in very poor condition. It appears to have been hastily created with rough penmanship but that doesn’t mean it’s not authentic. So we have the Grolier,Paris,Dresden, and Madrid Codices, the only four that have ever been found and all named after the cities that house them.” John stopped talking and rubbed his chin.

No one spoke.

“Andrew,” he turned to face his son, pausing a moment longer for effect. “What will the name of the fifth Codex be I wonder?”

Andrew smiled and paused, savoring the moment. “I don’t know yet, any suggestions?” Andrew replied.

There were loud audible gasps from the team. Some of the younger group did not immediately comprehend what was transpiring between father and son. After a moment, the noise level slowly rose and erupted, peaking in level as the group realized what had just been announced.

There was a Codex down in the tomb!

 2012 The Final Revelation

Author: Lisa J Flaus

#Writing has made me rich… #amwriting

Writing has made me rich. No, not in money but through my characters whose lives, loves, suffering, anguish and triumphs I’ve shared.

I believe, as a fiction writer, we need the ability to take a breath, close our eyes and become our characters, just for a moment.

In this way, one can step into a scene, see and experience things as if you are living it yourself. You can picture your surroundings with complete clarity, respond in conversation, act and react to events and feel emotions.

Being a writer has made me a better person. My own life is pretty darn great but I’ve also experienced amazing things through my characters. I’ve been an archaeologist, fallen into a tomb and discovered great things. I’ve been alone, in a world devoid of people, seen horror, suffered trauma and found love.

All in my imagination.

Writing has made me rich.

Lisa Flaus

Author: 2012 The Final Revelation

I had a dream #amwriting #writing

I sometimes tweet: “If you have a dream, dream big. You will achieve it.”

It is something I believe in so much, I can’t help but keep saying it. A dream is really a hope, a goal. I know some things would be hard, if not impossible to achieve. Here’s some silly examples of my own:

  1. Win Americas Next Top Model. Yeah, right. That just makes me giggle.
  2. Grow taller. Mmm mm, that’s not gunna happen.
  3. Stop eating the chocolate. Nup.

Some dreams though, are possible. With hard work, focus and dedication I believe you can achieve anything.

My dream was to write a novel. Then I thought that wasn’t a BIG enough goal, so I changed it to be “write a great novel that people can’t put down.” That was my dream.

6 years later I achieved the “write a novel” part. Not sure about the “can’t put down” part lol! I hope I did 😉

Dream it, believe it can be done and believe you can do it.

What’s your dream?

Welcome 2012!

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been watching peoples 2012 resolutions so thought I’d set some of my own.

My biggest challenge this year is to complete the sequel to my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation.

It is a mammoth task. My first novel took 6 years from concept to publication and my goal is to have the sequel done by December, 2012. Eeekkk…

Completing this, on top of a busy full time job, blogs, twitter (which I love) and promotional work, will make things difficult.

The good news is I have completed five chapters and know the story, albeit a few gaps in my thinking.

In preparation, I’ve cleared my house of HALF its content. Radical! I’ve cleaned it ceiling to floor, washed every item and given an amazing amount of it to charity.

I have no distractions, no clutter and no noise. The house is bare and I can now focus.

My 2012 resolutions are:

  • Spend more time with my family and friends
  • Do not bring “work” home every night and weekend
  • Eat healthy (that’s a funny one…)
  • Go for a walk every night
  • Be a good writing buddy to Amber Craig
  • Write, write, edit and write until the book is finished.

Have you set 2012 resolutions? What are you planning? Let me know and I’ll nag you from time to time! 😉

Love Lisa

I’m a library book! Whoop Whoop!

The deleted chapter. #amreading

For anyone who has read my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation, I’d like to share a chapter I removed from the final edit.

It was a chapter I had to delete in order to reduce word count and make the story move faster. When you are writing a thriller/mystery you need the action to occur quickly so the reader gets caught up in the drama. Also, I should not explain what my characters look like in so much detail. I should leave the reader to imagine for themselves.

A lovely person called Cathy taught me that 😉 Thank you Cathy xox

It was, along with other sentences, paragraphs and even characters I highlighted, paused, then hit the delete button.

Oh the trauma!

This was originally Kathryn’s opening chapter. Please forgive any mistakes as this was not part of the final professional edit.

Chapter 2 (deleted chapter)

Auckland Airport, New Zealand

Wednesday, 19th December, 2012

Kathryn Scott stood watching the vast sea of humanity pass her by. The hustle and bustle of people from all walks of life, ages, cultures and characters surrounded her, in a whirl of movement, energy and life. It was almost like she had stepped into an alternative reality, standing still and quiet, while waves of colourful sight and sound danced by.

There was a constant noise, broken only by the occasional airport announcement, momentarily hushing and stilling all other sound. Soft flute music played to sooth the weary traveller and a multitude of different conversations filled her ears.

Kathryn waited.

Of the six hundred and fifty billion people on the planet earth, Kathryn Scott was just one unique soul amongst an assortment of faces, eyes, skin colors, hair styles and clothing. She was undoubtedly a fine looking woman, totally oblivious to the stares and glances of people whose eyes swept over her. At twenty four, she was a picture of health and beauty. She stood tall and graceful. She had long, wavy dark brown hair, softly cascading down her back. She had a smooth fair complexion and her face was one of perfect dimensions, but it was her eyes that stood out most of all, the colour of faded blue denim and framed with long lashes.

Kathryn was happy. She genuinely loved life and especially this time of year, a bright combination of summer, Christmas and holiday time, all rolled together. She loved her family, friends and career, and over the last few weeks, was beginning to feel the initial butterfly stirrings of new love for the man she was waiting for.

Standing on tippy toes, she darted her eyes over the crowd and caught a glimpse of him. He had finally made it to the front of the queue and was standing at the check in counter.

She watched him a while, then her eyes panned down and finally fixed themselves on a stilled baggage trolley parked beside her, overloaded with an array of brightly coloured suitcases. Her mind began to wander, thinking about the previous evening. It had been the first night they had ever spent together in their short, four week relationship. It had been as perfect a night as could be depicted in an award winning romantic movie.

“Sorry that took so long,” Peter said, coming up beside her, “there was a huge queue getting on flights!”

Kathryn felt Peter take his big hand in hers and they darted and weaved their way through the crowds, trolleys and bags, towards the departure gate. A large sign read: ‘Travellers only beyond this point.’ No sooner had they stopped, short of the roped off area, than a loud announcement boomed overhead, ‘NZ507 bound for Christchurch, boarding now at gate three.’

“Thank you, I really appreciate you driving me out,” Peter said, still clutching her hand.

“I wanted to see you off,” Kathryn replied.

“I’m sorry we don’t have time to get a coffee.” Peter glanced down at his watch.

They looked into each others eyes.

“It’s only two weeks. I’ll be back,” Peter said.

“I know,” Kathryn replied, her top teeth catching her bottom lip in a coy, shy gesture.

Peter pulled her close. Kathryn could smell his aftershave and she could hear him breath in deeply, smelling her hair.

Kathryn looked up at him and wondered if he knew what she was feeling. His eyes met hers. He knew. They kissed.

“I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too,” she said.

Peter leaned closer and whispered in her ear, “I’ll be thinking about you constantly.”

“I’ll be thinking of you too. Have a great Christmas with your family.”

“You too, I’ll ring you tonight.”

“Bye.”

They kissed again and reluctantly parted.

Kathryn watched Peter as he made his way through security, her mind full of giddy emotion. She watched him turn to get a last glimpse of her. Peter paused and held the stare. Kathryn wondered if he had changed his mind about leaving and was going to suddenly run towards her. He didn’t. He smiled, waved and walked away out of her sight and out of her life.

Kathryn did not have the remotest idea that she would never, ever see him again.

SPAM vs Promotion #writetip #amwriting

I am a letterbox SPAMophobic! (Is there even such a word?) I have a NO JUNK MAIL sign displayed. It wasn’t only the constant stream of “buy me, buy me now!” mail I used to receive that made me put that sign up. It’s the fact that I would nearly weep when I had to throw away a vast amount of papers, flyers and pamphlets!

PAPER WASTAGE = Cut down trees 

It really did wind me up!

I can handle twitter spam. It’s not so bad. I can just choose to ignore it and it doesn’t waste paper 😉  The truth is that many of the people I follow on facebook or twitter are also first time, or experienced writers trying to sell their product and that’s okay with me. I often go and have a look. I’m a reader too, so I’m interested in other peoples work.

There are examples of novels that have caught my eye through tweets. Their messages worked for the author because I purchased! But why did I? It was because of the genre, the description, the cover or the author. The person is really interesting, fun and engages with me. I like them. That makes me interested in their work, so I buy the book.

However, from some, I receive the same message over and over again. My Facebook and Twitter walls are a stream of advertising. If these posts becomes too much, I simply un-follow them (twitter) or unlike their page (Facebook). Mostly, I tolerate these commercial interludes, as interspersed in their “I have written a book – go buy it” messages, are inspiring, funny and moving posts that I enjoy reading.

So my problem is, as a first time author, I now also have a product to sell

“Oh no,” I gasp in horror  😮

What do I do? I can’t spam. It goes against the grain. I can’t cope doing it. I don’t like it. It’s just not me.

I spam and then I can’t stand myself!

So, how does someone like me then sell their own product?

I have tried a couple of techniques:

  • SPAM – I feel guilty and barf into a paper bag.
  • Don’t bother, the book will sell itself. Mmm mm, yeah right!  There is no doubt about it, talking about my book definitely increases sales.

Anyone out there who is currently writing a novel will have to face this when your own book is published. There are some things I have learnt along the way:

  1. Don’t spam the same message over and over – it just annoys people. Vary the messages promoting your book as much as possible not just repeat the same one. Once your followers have seen it once, they don’t want to see it another 100 times.
  2. Be interesting and show people the real you, so they want to follow you and hear what you have to say about life, and not continuous spam about your product.
  3. All writers, traditional or self-published, need to find that unique marketing factor, and target the right audience with the right message. OK, so twitter makes it impossible to target just some of your followers, but point 2 addresses this, in that you can provide something for all of the people who follow you. In my case, my 11:11 fetish, writing experiences, my interest in 2012 and just being my normal silly self.
  4. The main thing I have learnt is that, at the end of the day, when people tweet about a book, I want to know “What’s in it for me?” “If I’m going to pay money for something then how will reading this book benefit me?” “Does the subject interest me?” “Does the writer interest me?”

Let’s look at point 4 a little closer. How about I change my marketing plan and think through the eyes of the consumer:

  • The story took many years to write and has been professionally edited. It is 124,000 words, 39 chapters, 220 pages – Value for money
  • It is a unique telling of a familiar topic – 2012, archaeological discovery, end of mankind, apocalypse based story – Originality
  • It contains factual, interesting information about the Maya civilization,  Maya Calendar, archaeology, solar system, 2012, religion, survival – Knowledge building
  • The genre is wide, a combination of thriller, mystery with an underlying love story. It is set in New Zealand, Palenque, New Yorkand Mexico City– Suitable for a wide audience
  • Hope reins supreme and our human will and ability to survive is paramount. Even in our darkest hour the light is always there. It describes how people suffer grief and survive through it – Inspirational  
  • There are some good Amazon reviews up (thank goodness!) – Reviews

Now I have to figure out how I convey these messages to people, only using 140 twitter characters. Any ideas? As a follower of authors (or other marketers), what tweets catch your eye? What makes you interested in their products?

If you are a writer, either published or about to publish your own book, what are your techniques and marketing plans? Do they work for you?

Have you thought about your own consumer or customer and how your product will meet their needs?

Meanwhile, I think I’ll do a tweet about my cat. She’s really funny 😉

Lisa 🙂