This week’s topic is writing while travelling and how we accomplish the feat.
For various reasons, travel takes a lot out of me and if I’m required to travel, I’m going to be concentrating on the mechanics of the trip and the accomplishment of whatever I went for. I take a pad of paper with me in case I get a really killer plot idea or want to take note of something, but only once have I ever actually written a few words of prose. It was less than a page, about a character known as The Renegade, and I’ve never done anything else with that particular snippet. I did use the character in a small but pivotal role in Star Survivor. He’s an intriguing guy so he may still get his own book in the future.
So that’s a short and not especially illuminating or useful discussion. I thought about not even posting today, rather than waste your time, but then I thought I could at least give you a passage about travel from one of my books.
Here’s an excerpt from Magic of the Nile where the heroine, High Priestess Tyema, is sent on a journey by the Crocodile God she serves. Tyema and I share a reluctance to travel but at least no one asks me to take along a live crocodile!
Magic was a ‘Hearts Through History Romancing the Novel’ Contest Winner….
The journey from her temple to the small port that was Ibis Nome’s only formal access to the Nile took three days by donkey cart. Tyema grew increasingly nauseous and short of breath the longer the journey went on, even though she was surrounded by her kinsmen, her temple workers and her niece Renebti and scribe Jemkhufu. All of them did their utmost to make her comfortable, especially Renebti, who was a gentle soul and obviously distressed to see her aunt in such turmoil. Usually Tyema did a good job of hiding her symptoms but in the close quarters of the cart, and the tent the two women shared at night, she feared her problems were all too obvious.
Infant Seknehure was well behaved, watching the world go by from the safety of a sling Tyema wore. He was her solace. Taking care of his simple needs, snuggling him, breathing in his sweet baby scent all calmed her and enabled her to shut out the world. Even when he was fussy and she had to walk beside the cart, trying to soothe him, the activity relieved her symptoms as well.
But her dread of the river voyage ahead came rushing back in a dizzying wave as her small caravan wound its way through the crowded, smelly harbor town. People stared at her since the High Priestess of Sobek was legendary in the province, rarely seen. Tyema held her head high, feeling her blushes staining her cheeks, and tried to smile. It didn’t help that she was wearing a simple traveling dress and cloak, not her ceremonial robes and crown. Nothing to hide behind.
The nomarch’s private ship, the Swift, was much larger than any other vessel in the choked harbor. Comparing the tiny inlet to the sweeping peninsula she and Sahure had surveyed, Tyema could certainly see why Pharaoh had sent him to investigate the possibility of building a new port for the increased trade he was contemplating.
Captain Djedefhor was waiting to greet her on the pier, dressed in a simple white shirt, dyed blue kilt and matching nemes. Around his neck he wore two amulets, one of Sobek and the other of Ra, the sun god who sailed the sky and the Underworld. Djedefhor bowed as she dismounted from the cart and shook out her skirts. “It’s my honor and pleasure to convey you to Thebes, Lady Tyema. I hope my poor ship will meet with your approval.”
“I’m not used to traveling on ships at all, captain,” she answered honestly. “It’s very kind of the nomarch to lend me his vessel for the journey.”
Djedefhor smiled broadly. “We’ll set a high standard for you to compare all other ships to in the future. The nomarch’s orders were to ensure your every comfort while conveying you to Thebes as fast as possible.” His easy manner toward Tyema bordered on flirtation, his glances at her appreciative. “Are you ready to board?”
“I must see to the comfort of my crocodile before I can worry about myself,” Tyema answered. “This is my crocodile keeper, Hotepre.”
As the grizzled older man came forward, the ship’s captain frowned. “Ah yes, the crocodile. I must confess I prefer taking you on as a passenger over inviting one of the Nile beasts onto my deck,” Djedefhor said with disarming honesty. Tyema liked him all the more for his candor. “I don’t suppose we can put it in the hold?”
“Not before I’ve died and gone to the Afterlife,” Hotepre said, hands on his hips. His two underkeepers crowded behind him, ready to defend their crocodile.
Djedefhor surveyed the crate on the last donkey cart. It was rocking side to side and much clawing and noise could be heard. The harnessed donkey was wide eyed, sidling nervously while the driver held the bridle tight.
“I can order the animal to walk onto the ship,” Tyema said. “Our idea was to chain him by the hind leg to the mast, or perhaps the rail at the stern? One of my men will watch the crocodile at all times. We’ll have to catch fish to feed it periodically during the voyage.”
Djedefhor had apparently not heard anything she said after the part about walking the crocodile onto his vessel. He swallowed hard. “For the sake of my crew, can you bring it aboard in the crate? I’ll agree to let it travel on deck, as long as I’m satisfied with the restraints, but I’d rather not risk having such a dangerous animal walk freely.” He glanced at the massive crate again. “I expected to treat the beast as cargo, not a passenger.”
“This animal was personally selected by Sobek, to honor Pharaoh. I assure you Sobek has given me the power to command his creatures,” Tyema said. Deciding she didn’t want to push the point and incur the captain’s hostility before the voyage had even begun, she went on in a more positive tone, “But we can certainly load him onto the ship inside the crate and then allow him to have the fresh air. The box is constructed to come apart easily. Hotepre, can you take care of this for me?”
“Well, then it’s settled,” Seeming pleased, Djedefhor offered her his hand to ascend the wooden gangplank. “It’s a bit tricky for nonsailors. And of course you have the baby to balance as well. “
Trying to decide if the captain actually was trying to flirt with her, Tyema allowed him to escort her onto the Swift. Renebti and Jemkhufu brought up the rear. The deck was reassuringly wide but flashes of the day she’d been carried aboard a Hyksos vessel as a terrified prisoner came and went in her mind. Tyema froze, clutching the baby so tightly he cried. Her vision was narrowing and she knew she was going to faint. From a distance she heard Renebti’s voice asking if she was all right and the captain’s deeper tones as he said something, but she couldn’t stop the escalation of her terror. Someone tried to take Seknehure away from her and as she was resisting the attempt, backing away, she tripped.
There was a flash of pain in the back of her skull and the world went black.
The Story: She’s a priestess, he’s a proud warrior … is love enough to bridge their differences?
When the high priestess of an Egyptian temple falls in love with a captain of the royal guard, their bond is tested by the intrigue and peril of their duties to the gods and Pharaoh.
Tyema serves Sobek the Crocodile God as High Priestess of his Nile river temple. But despite her beauty, grace, and the power she wields, the shy priestess lives as a recluse in the remote temple grounds. For though Sobek rescued her from a childhood of abuse and neglect, and healed her crippled foot, her dark past haunts her still.
When Sahure, a dashing captain of Pharaoh’s guard, arrives to ask her help for Pharaoh, Tyema’s wounded heart blossoms. The captain is captivated as by her well … until Pharaoh orders him to the dangerous frontier, far from Tyema. He rides away, bound by duty and honor, leaving Tyema with even more secrets to bear.
Heart-broken, Tyema returns to her lonely life … until the Crocodile God reveals other plans for his priestess. For Pharaoh’s life is threatened with black magic, and only one who wields the power of a god can unmask the sorcerer. Tyema must brave court life, and somehow withstand the pressures of swirling gossip, intrigue and danger. And she must hurry, before ancient evils overcome all her efforts.
But when Sahure returns, is he there to help or to hinder? Will love lead them to common ground, and a future together … or will their differences tear them apart forever?