Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

18 December 2008

Taking the bitter with the sweet

The sweet

I’ve sold a novel!

Speculative fiction publisher Hadley Rille Books will publish a series of historical novels set in archaeologically important times and written by archaeologists. (I squeezed in because I’ve worked on archaeological digs and have a Ph.D. in the sister discipline of anthropology.) Although these books will not be speculative fiction, the publisher does want them to induce the same sense of wonder that spec fic does.

My novel, tentatively called Like Mayflies in a Stream, takes place in Uruk, the largest city in Sumer, during the reign of Gilgamesh. The novel’s heroine is Shamhat, a priestess of Inanna (later known as Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite, and Venus). I sold the novel on proposal, so I still have to write it.

I first fell in love with ancient Sumer in high school and took classes in college in Mesopotamian archaeology and art with top-notch scholars in those areas. I’m really looking forward to writing this novel, and if I write fast enough, it may be out by the end of 2009.

Although this is my third published book, it’s my first novel. I’m at last a novelist! Thank you, Hadley Rille and Eric Reynolds!

The bitter

My cat, Dulcinea, died early Saturday morning of pancreatitis and an undiagnosed lung disorder. She would have turned 17 on December 20th. She wasn’t a constant writer’s helper like her brother, Susato. But she was sweet and extremely smart. She loved to sunbathe and followed the sun from room to room. She also loved to wash Susato and my husband’s legs.


Last week’s contest

Farrah Rochon won a copy of the Hadley Rille anthology Return to Luna in my contest last week. Congratulations, Farrah! Disappointed nonwinners can buy a copy at


Lisa said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Dulcinea, but I'm glad you had many years with her.

And...CONGRATULATIONS!!! This sounds like a fascinating project. How long do you have to turn in a manuscript?

This is very exciting. I am really happy for you...and I didn't know your PhD was in anthropology...more and more fascinating facts about Shauna :)

Charles Gramlich said...

That's very cool about the book and I know you'll do a wonderful job with it. I can't wait to get a copy.

I'm also very sorry about your cat. You had her a long time. Amazing how pets become so much a part of our life.

Angie said...

I'm so sorry about your cat, hon. [hugz] But massive congrats about the novel! That's so awesome!

I've only ever read 1.5 other books in that setting, and am looking forward to reading yours. :D


Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks, LISA. Yes, we had had Dulcinea and Susato since they were eight weeks old and my husband could hold each one in a hand. I have three months to complete my manuscript. I've never written a book that fast, so it will be a learning experience.

CHARLES, thanks for your consoling and encouraging comments. We have no children, so our pets were our babies.

ANGIE, thanks. I'm intrigued by your comment that you've read 1.5 books set in ancient Mesopotamia. Does that mean you threw one against the wall?

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

It's hard when a beloved pet passes on - it really is like losing a family member.

Angie said...

Shauna -- No, actually, heh. One was a historical romance from way back when, I don't even remember the name of it. The girl was a Sumerian doctor and the guy was a Babylonian officer. It was actually pretty good.

The "half" was a historical fantasy with a setting based closely on ancient Mesopotamia; I'm only counting it as half because it wasn't a straight historical, and the names were changed and all, but the language used for the fantasy naming was clearly from that time and place. It's called Between the Rivers, and it's by Harry Turtledove, who's a history professor. It's not a romance, but it's really good, highly recommended.


Rae Ann Parker said...

Shauna, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved car.

A huge CONGRATULATIONS on the sale of your novel!!! I am so glad for you. And to sell it on spec is quite a feat for a first time novelist.

Enjoy the sweet part of this post. What a wonderful Christmas gift.

Rick said...

Congratulations, Shauna. My God, you're an interesting woman.

Shauna Roberts said...

ARCHAVIST, it really is like losing a family member. Thanks for stopping by.

BARBARA, before Hurricane Katrina, I had a romance novel published in the early 1970s that was set in ancient Mesopotamia. I wonder if it could be the very same book you read? I've never seen another romance set then. After I finish my own book, I'll have to check out Turtledove's Between the Rivers. Sounds like something I'd like.

RAE ANN, thanks, and thanks. It appears my novel-writing career is getting off to just as unconventional a start as my nonfiction career did.

RICK, thanks. One of the best things about getting older, I think, is that one gradually stops being "weird" and starts being "interesting."

Rick said...

I absolutely love that thought, Shauna.

Sidney said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. I know that is difficult and sad, and I sympathize a lot because I know Miss Daisy's time is limited with us.

That is wonderful news about the novel. Sounds like an interesting set up for a story. Congratulations!

Gina Black said...

Shauna, my sympathies on the loss of your cat. It's very hard to lose our companions.

And congratulations on the sale! That's very wonderful news. Sounds like you will have a very busy winter. :)

Shauna Roberts said...

SIDNEY, thank you. Dulcinea lived four years on borrowed time; I hope Miss Daisy is just as lucky and gets lots more time with you.

GINA, yes, it's very hard. At least I'll have writing the book to distract me.

Barbara Martin said...

How wonderful about your new book! I like the time period and its bound to be an interesting read. I'm making a note to keep an eye out for it, Shauna.

Very sad to hear about your cat. When a person has pets with them for that length of time they are members of the family. Maybe you can give her an extra cat life in your upcoming story.

steve on the slow train said...

Congratulations on the acceptance of your novel project, Shauna. I listened to the Epic of Gilgamesh on CD recently and was amazed. I don't think there have been too many novels set in ancient Sumer.

And I'm sorry to hear about your cat.

Carleen Brice said...

Wow, that is bitter and sweet at the same time. Congratulations on joining the novelista ranks. Keep your memories of you kitty close. They will only sweeten as time goes by.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm very sincerely sorry about Dulcinea. <:( *hugs* That's always a hard thing to cope with.
Congrats on the book deal, though. It sounds very interesting! Best of luck with that. :)

Shauna Roberts said...

BARBARA, I'll probably remember to post a notice on my blog when my book comes out. ;-) That's a great idea, putting Dulcinea in an upcoming story. Maybe I can work her brother in, too. He was a real character.

STEVE, thanks. I find the epic of Gilgamesh amazing too, both for what's in it and what's not.

Thanks, CARLEEN. I've been reading your book on grief. Lots of good insights there.

LANA, thanks for the hugs and the good wishes. Doing the research for the book has been fascinating.

Sphinx Ink said...

Shauna, I'm so sorry about Dulcinea's death. I've had a couple of cats who lived to be 18/19 years old, and it's very hard to lose them after they been a part of one's life for so long.

I am thrilled with the news about your fiction sale. Congratulations! The book sounds fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Anonymous said...

I stopped by since this was a slow day. And I'm so glad I did. Many congratulations on the sale.


Shauna Roberts said...

SPHINX, I still look for Dulci when I go into the bedroom and I still at mealtimes think I need to feed her until I remember. It's been more than 26 years since there hasn't been a cat in our house. Thanks for your congratulations.

USMAN, I'm glad you stopped by and heard the good part of my news. Thank you.

Beth Yarnall said...

Congratualtions on your sale!!!!! That's amazing!
I'm so sorry to hear about Dulcinea (great name). She was a very pretty kitty.

Barrie said...

Congratulations on your sale. And I'm sorry about your cat.

Therese said...

I'm late with both my condolences and my congratulations, but both are heartfelt.

Wishing you a happy New Year.

Shauna Roberts said...

BETH, BARRIE, and THERESE, thank you for your congratulations and condolences. Happy New Year to you all.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog you got here. It would be great to read a bit more concerning this theme.
BTW check the design I've made myself Overnight escort