I’m exhilarated! A weight has been lifted off my shoulders with my mystery novel finally in print . Buy The Revelation Key at Amazon
A quirky art history student joins a research team in Greece. She gets drawn into a tangle of Biblical theory, dusty manuscripts and faded art. After many missteps, she discovers who murdered her uncle, thwarts a conspiracy AND finds the Byzantine Key to the Book of Revelation.
If you like spunky female protagonists, exotic locations and a touch of humor, I think you will enjoy this page-turner.
Writing this novel has been a long journey. I visited Greece in 2004 to see Classical art. Byzantine art was a shock to me. Art History education focuses on Classic Greek and Roman images, gives a brief mention of Hagia Sophia cathedral and a couple of icons, then quickly moves to Western Europe for Medieval and Renaissance art, skipping 1,000 years of art and culture in the Eastern Roman Empire. I wanted to learn more.
I read Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” and thought, “I could do that.”
Inspired by my trip to Varlaam monastery and teaching Sunday School classes on Revelation, I began my novel about nine years ago. After all, I wrote about 1,000 words a week for our community newspaper. How much harder could a novel be?
Boy, was I naive! After a few years of writing, I started attending writing conferences and pitching. No bites. In 2012, I invested in William Bernhardt’s week-long seminar. I attended class in the mornings, did my work on that week’s newspaper in the afternoon and evening via computer, and burned the midnight oil for that day’s homework.
If you’re going to write a murder mystery, you need to kill someone on the first page, Bernhardt advised. I resisted for a few months. With tears and a heavy heart, I finally put Robert Jackson to a painful death on Page 1.
Still, beta readers didn’t like Amber, the protagonist. And they forgot about poor Uncle Robert’s murder in Amber’s other pursuits. The manuscript cried for an extensive re-write.
The day Bernardt’s writing conference began in 2013, I learned I had cancer. I tried to attend the conference, but quickly realized I needed to return home to my distraught family. Staying alive became more important that writing.
The day before Thanksgiving, 2013, the neurosurgeon told my family that I would probably not make it. I pasted up the newspaper a week later from a laptop in my bedroom with one eye pointing off in strange direction (The surgeon cut some muscles to one eye and disturbed the nerves on that side of my face.) The next week, I pasted up from a hospital bed between sessions of having my lungs drained.
For three months, I worked from home. Seems that a person is not supposed to drive a car for 90 days after brain surgery. My sister Dawn faithfully took me to chemo sessions and doctor visits, with an ice cream cone as my reward afterwards. On Day 91, I drove myself to the office, albeit with one eye squeezed closed.
We had the lymphoma licked. Tests in May, 2014, said NO.
I had written a column titled, “Getting Smashed with the Girls” before my cancer diagnosis. It described a party the ladies at the newspaper had as we all went together for our mammograms. It won state and international journalism awards. I borrowed a wig to cover my bald head to accept state honors from the Oklahoma Press Association. My chemo and radiation schedule was too intense for me to attend and accept my Golden Dozen Award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.
I received a different chemo regiment and 15 days of radiation to my brain in preparation for a stem cell transplant. I trained a summer intern to take my place for the month I would be gone. The cancer team decided to be more aggressive. After three days of harvesting my blood stem cells, we starting the preparations for radiation injections.
With that delay, the trained intern left for college two weeks before I checked into the OU Med Center for my stem cell transplant. For five days, the doctors waged war on my lymphatic system. Then, they injected my stem cells and kept me alive with IVs and infusions of red blood cells and platelets waiting for the stem cells to find their home in my bone marrow and start making blood.
I was able to do newspaper work the first week of the process. By week three, I could not remember the name of the President, the year or the other stupid questions the doctors kept asking. After five weeks, they decided being locked up in a sterile environment was driving me crazy.
My family sterilized our home and set aside a bedroom and bathroom just for me. The eating instructions were draconian. Did you know a person can get an infection from pepper? Ground black pepper.
The visiting nurse came twice a week. Seemed like I spent every Friday or Saturday getting infusions of red blood cells or platelets. But I remembered how my computer worked and resumed composing the newspaper and editing photos and copy.
In early 2015, I was allowed to go out in public wearing a mask and gloves, and work again at the office. The cancer was gone.
Since my outside activities were limited, I resumed work on my novel. Bill Bernhardt read my manuscript: only two typos, but I needed to shorten the the historical sections. I pondered and marked potential changes in the manuscript.
In 2017, I vowed I would finish this damn novel. I slashed 15,000 words, rewrote, updated the technology in the story, and self-published. I did not intend to die with an unpublished book on my hard drive.
I began this novel thinking I could write an instant best seller. I end knowing that I have published a compelling mystery. Will I write a sequel? Depends on how many people like Amber Jackson, amateur sleuth. Hope you enjoy all the precarious situations she finds herself in.