Friday, June 28, 2013

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

I'm sitting at my husband's restaurant. I'm sitting at the counter, having a glass of wine. One of my husband's customers is sitting alone at a table behind me. He is reading a book. He is a new customer who hasn't been to the restaurant before.

My husband goes to the table and says, "You like to read? Here, one of my customers left this book on accident. Check it out if you're interested." He leaves his own proof copy of The Vesuvius Isotope on the table and goes back to his work.

I sit at the counter and watch over the guy's shoulder. I'm thinking, cool! This is the first time I have ever gotten to see a total stranger's honest reaction to my book when he doesn't know I'm looking.

The guy picks up the book. He looks at the front cover. He looks at the back cover. He reads the back cover. He opens to book to the back and starts checking out the sneak preview to my second book. Stays there for a few minutes. Then he flips to the front of the book and starts reading from the beginning for a few minutes. Then he flips to the middle and stays there for quite some time. Probably read 2-3 pages right in the middle of the book. Then he sets it back down on the table.

My husband stops back by to check on him and see if he needs anything, etc.

The guy says:

"This is really an interesting book. I am intrigued and want to know more." So my husband conveniently hands him one of my bookmarks with order info on it and says:

"The customer left this too. It has more information if you want to order the book."

The guy says:

"I definitely will. It has a really positive energy. I'd be curious to meet the author. She seems really interesting."

My husband says:

"You can meet her if you want. It's my wife. She's sitting behind you."

I crack up. The guy turns around and says:

"Oh...my...gosh! Really? This is your book?"

He leaps up and comes and sits by me at the counter. He says to my husband, "I really want to talk to your wife about her book. But I'm gay, so don't worry - you're safe."

I'm sure my husband was totally relieved.

The customer starts asking me questions and chatting about the book. He tells me he has never met an author before, but he did get to meet Liberace when he was younger. I'm not kidding.

The fact that this guy was about 60, and Liberace would be 94 today, has not escaped my attention.

He starts telling me about himself. What he does for a living has something to do with astrology and the direction of energy and pendulums. I didn't quite understand it. He tells me he needs to see the book's energy to see if the book is a good book for him. He isn't kidding.

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a little string with a crystal on the end. It looks like a necklace. He holds it over the book and lets it swing a little bit.

He says:

"Wow. This book has very positive energy for me. This is a really good book for me."

I feel a very positive energy.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Vesuvius Isotope is Here!

I like to squeak things in just under the wire, and the book is available NOW! Print books are available here using the icon to the right as well as via Amazon.com. The Kindle version is also available now at Amazon.com.

Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.




Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Vesuvius Isotope Blog Tour

JULY 1, 2013! 

A mere 18 days from today is the OFFICIAL launch date for The Vesuvius Isotope!

In celebration of its debut, a truly epic 20-stop blog tour has been planned. As is customary, this tour will include interviews, excerpts and guest posts designed to introduce readers to the book and its author. In addition to these "traditional" stops, there will also be a few less-traditional tour stops fleshing out non-fictional aspects of the book: real-life mysteries and themes explored in the book, and introductions to some of its lesser-known settings and locales in Italy and Egypt. As part of the latter, a few "Trip-A-Day Intermissions" - virtual visits featuring one new locale per day - will take place here on my site each day between tour stops.

I would like to extend an enormous thank-you to each and every one of these hosts who have so graciously offered to participate in this tour, as well as a monumental thank-you to my friend Sunny Frazier, who has introduced me to many of these fabulous folks. I would like to encourage all of you to check out these blogs, bookmark them, and check back frequently to support a great group of people on the web. And also because their blogs are really entertaining!

Please check back frequently as this list is updated with additional titles and details. And without further delay...the tour stops are as follows:

Date        Host                 Blog                           Topic          


July 3         Tim Desmond         Tim Desmond's Blog          CSI and Caducei
                                                                                              An author interview

July 4         Sara McBride          Novel Travelist                   The Buried Books of Herculaneum
                                                                                              A Novel Travelist Mystery, Installment 6

July 5         James Callan           The Author's Blog              A Very, Very Bad Week
                                                                                              Guest post by protagonist Katrina Stone

July 6         Stephen Brayton     Brayton's Briefs                   Riding Camels in the Desert
                                                                                              An "Around the Globe" interview

July 7         Lesley Diehl           Another Draught                 An Accident, a Dare, 
                                                                                              and a Massive Lay-off
                                                                                              My "Why I Became a Writer" Story

July 8         John Brantingham  John Brantingham's Blog     Art Imitating Life
                                                                                              An author interview

July 9         William Doonan     Novel Spaces                      Writing Like a Man
                                                                                              A guest post on gender in mystery writing

July 10       Cory Cuthbertson   Coryographies                     The Crocodile Library of Tebtunis
                                         Musings of a Paleolinguist           True story of a 2000-year-old database

July 11       Theresa Valera        Latina Libations                  Transitions
                                                                                              An author interview

July 12        Chris Swinney       Chris Swinney's Blog         The Sacrificial Lamb
                                                                                              Excerpt from The Vesuvius Isotope

July 13        Maria Ruiz             Maria Ruiz' Blog                 All Things Books and Writing
                                                                                              An author interview

July 14        Joyce Brown          Our Retirement Journeys    The Facts Behind the Fiction
                                                  Read Like Cozy Mystery    An author interview

July 15        Maggie Bishop      Dames of Dialogue             An American Imposter in Egypt 
                                                                                              My solo novel-research tour of Egypt

July 16        Velda Brotherton   Gutsy Women Who            The Gutsy Woman Who Won the East
                                                  Won The West                    Mysteries in the life of Cleopatra VII

July 17        Denise Weeks        Denise Weeks' Blog            Kill Google First
                                                                                              Keeping the Internet out of your mystery

July 18        E.A. Aymar           E.A. Aymar's Blog              Title TBA
                                                                                              An author interview

July 19        Ilene Schneider      rabbi.author                         See Naples and Die
                                                                                              Excerpt from The Vesuvius Isotope

July 20              Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     Who Owned the House of the Faun?
                                                                                              A Trip-A-Day Intermission

July 21              Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     Black Death From Above
                                                                                              A Trip-A-Day Intermission

July 22              Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     The Roots of Rome
                                                                                              A Trip-A-Day Intermission

July 23              Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     Italy's Best Kept Secret:
                                                                                              Cappella Sansevero
                                                                                              A Trip-A-Day Intermission

July 24        Gray Cargill           Solo Friendly                      The Protagonist's Trip: Solo Travel
                                                                                              For the Author 
                                                                                              How travels become stories and vice versa

July 25              Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     Billete! How to Go to Jail in Naples
                                                                                              A Trip-A-Day Intermission

July 26              Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     Naples Versus Cairo:
                                                                                              Cairo Wins on the Chaos Scale
                                                                                              A Trip-A-Day Intermission

July 27-28         Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                     TBA Trip A Day Intermissions
                                                                                              A visit per day to Vesuvius locales

July 29        Maggie Bishop      Dames of Dialogue             A Dive to the Museum
                                                                                             Baiae Underwater Archeological Park

July 30-31          Kristen Elise, Ph.D.                                   TBA Trip A Day Intermissions
                                                                                             A visit per day to Vesuvius locales

August 1     Sara McBride        Novel Travelist                   The Buried Books of Herculaneum
                                                                                             A Novel Travelist Mystery, Installment 7
                                                                                           

Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.



Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children. 



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Print Books vs. EBooks - Don't Forget Fonts!

CreateSpace, here we come!

How cool is Damonza's Awesome Book Covers? The ebook is being formatted, and the formatting for the print book is DONE! The copyright has been registered and the novel has been uploaded to CreateSpace. I can't wait to see the proof.

For all of you e-book people, I want to give you a heads up about something: The print book for The Vesuvius Isotope will be soooooo much cooler. I ended up with FIVE different fonts in this text:

1. Bookman Old Style for all regular text, frequently italicized.
2. Copperplate Bold for all ancient documents.
3. Courier New for all text messages and e-mails.
4. Herculaneum (no WAY I could have NOT written this font into this book...) for a couple of ancient mosaics and section breaks.
5. Mistrel as part of the Murder Lab Press logo.

Now here's the bad news. E-books don't allow this. I had to pick one font and go with it (in fact, I didn't even get to pick it, now that I think about it.) So italics and bold are the only options for distinguishing one text from another. So...the Copperplate sections became simply bold, and the other three fonts went the way of the dodo. Which is fine - it's still good reading - but not nearly as visually cool in my humble opinion.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Journey to the Real Dante's Inferno: The Phlegraean Fields

A deep cave there was, yawning wide and vast, of jagged rock, and sheltered by dark lake and woodland gloom, over which no flying creatures could safely wing their way; such a vapour from those black jaws was wafted to the vaulted sky whence the Greeks spoke of Avernus, the Birdless Place. 
-The Aeneid, Virgil (70–19 BCE) 


It's not trick videography. Lake Avernus really is black. That and the sulfurous fumes emitted from the lake were certainly the inspiration for its name. Avernus - from the Greek for "No Birds" - takes its moniker from the widely-held ancient belief that birds flying over the lake would drop dead out of the sky from the fumes. The video above proves the existence of fowl, but the lake is still - well, foul.

Lake Avernus is just one noteworthy feature of Campania's Phlegraean Fields - or, as I like to refer to them, the Phlegm Fields. This lesser-visited area outside of Naples, Italy, is perhaps one of the more interesting sites for those seeking myth and macabre off the beaten path.

It is widely known that Dante Alighieri was from Florence. But it is hypothesized that his idea for the Inferno came from this area. In addition to the black Lake Avernus, the Phlegraean Fields feature Sybil's Grotto - thought to be the gateway to the underworld - an area of natural steam geysers known as Sulfatara, and belching, sulfurous, boiling lakes of mud. The geothermal activity in the area is, of course, attributed to Mount Vesuvius, and serves as a constant reminder that the volcano can erupt again at any time.

The second video is long, but some of the features of the Phlegm Fields are shown in the first five minutes. At 0.58, we see pockets of steam emerging from within the earth, and we are surprised that the word "dormant" is used to describe the Solfatara crater. From about 2:42 forward, we are introduced to the multiple pockets of mud; 3:02 shows that some of them are actually boiling. Facial, anyone?

 

This blog post explores a non-fictional theme or locale that is incorporated in The Vesuvius Isotope, the first Katrina Stone novel. Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.




Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children.