Saturday, December 27, 2014

Six Line Sunday... WIPping "Big Girl"

So... amongst all the *many* other writing projects I have going on at the moment I have still been finding some time to write my latest Paranormal Romance work.

Here you go.... six lines (well actually it's a little more than six lines) of my WIP tentatively titled "Big Girl".

This scene is where our half giant heroine, Correctional Officer Eudora Splat, takes matters into her own hands to rescue her charge, the accused felon Evander "Bear" Gordon, from an attack by Human Purists.

The quiet made the temptation to look unbearable. Cautiously, he craned his neck once more around the trunk of his tree, and the scene that met his eyes belied belief. Officer Splat had torn a young tree from its roots and effectively clobbered Claver it.
The man was sprawled on the leafy wet ground, the trunk of the tree flat across his chest.
Officer Splat, stared down at the man. Her shoulder’s heaving. As if she sensed his presence, she turned. Her electric blue eyes met his, and held them a long dazzling second. Then, unexpectedly, her wide generous mouth tilted at the corners, and a delighted, cheeky smile appeared.
Bear felt his heart stutter to a halt.
I like this girl.
 ©Nicola E. Sheridan 2014

I really love this story, it's the genre I love, with heaps of action and adventure. My enthusiasm for this project has been buoyed by my wonderful critique partner Loretta Hill's comments on the manuscript at our meeting last week... "That was really fun! I really love their chemistry. It's so sweet.... I'm disappointed there's none left to read!"

Which was a relief. It's always a worry when I'm loving writing something, that my readers may not... critique partners are just the best for raw honesty!

I am really trying to get this manuscript finished in a few months, and sent to my publisher as soon as I possibly can.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Searching for the Queen of Sheba

 Who is this woman - whose name crops up when we think of wealth and beauty? Where is the country of Sheba? Was she real?

Let's take a look.

According to the Bible, the Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon "with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones" (I Kings 10:2). "Never again came such an abundance of spices" (10:10; II Chron. 9:1–9).
Yet the Queen of Sheba is mentioned not only in Christian traditions, but also Jewish and Islamic traditions as well. Which one, if any is true?

Where was the country of Sheba?

Most researchers agree that Sheba is possibly the South Arabian kingdom of Saba, now known as Yemen.
 Saba had a virtual monopoly had a monopoly on frankincense. 
The city of Marib in Saba would have wealth accumulated to such an extent that the city became a byword for riches beyond belief throughout the Arab world.
Its people, the Sabeans - a group whose name bears the same etymological root as Saba - lived in South Arabia between the tenth and sixth centuries BC. Their main temple - Mahram Bilqis, or temple of the moon god (situated about three miles from the capital city of Marib) - was so famous that it remained sacred even after the collapse of the Sabean civilisation in the sixth century BC - caused by the rerouting of the spice trail. 
Saba was known by the Hebrews as Sheba, and it survives today (Saba = Sa'abia = Saudi Arabia). Reference History Files

It has also been suggested though archaeological evidence that during the10th Century BC, Ethiopia and Yemen were ruled by a single dynasty probably based in Yemen. Since the political and cultural ties between ancient Yemen and Ethiopia seem to have been strong in that era, the Queen of Sheba may have reigned over both Ethiopia and Yemen. It makes sense then that she could have been either Yemeni or Ethiopian in race.

Who was she then?
Possibility 1.

The Ethiopian Queen - Makeba 
Every country has an epic tale - and Ethiopia's appears to be the Kebra Nagast or "Glory of Kings." This tells the story of a queen named Makeda from the city of Axum who traveled to meet the King Solomon of Jerusalem.
The Queen stayed in Jerusalem for some months... and unsurprisingly King Solomon fell in love / lust with her.
As Makeda's visit neared its end, Solomon asked her to stay in his own, private wing of the castle.
Not wanting to offend him, she agreed, but made Solomon promise not to get frisky or fresh with her.
Solomon reluctantly agreed to her stipulation but only if Makeda agreed to one of his own. Makeda must not take anything belonging to the King, if she did, well, then then he could be as frisky and fresh as he wanted with her.

Being a wily fellow, Solomon ordered a spicy and salty dinner for her. Which she ate. That night, he placed a glass of water beside Makeda's bed. Naturally from the salty meal - she woke up thirsty, and drank it.

Upon drinking the water, Solomon entered her room and said that she'd drunk his water... and now he could do with her what he wished.

No surprise then that Makeda and Solomon had sex - and when she returned to Ethiopia, she was pregnant with his child.

In Ethiopian tradition, Solomon and Sheba's child, Emperor Menelik I, founded the Solomonid dynasty, which continued until Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974. Menelik also went to Jerusalem to meet his father, and either received as a gift (or possibly stole) the Ark of the Covenant, depending upon the version of the story. Although most Ethiopians today believe that Makeda was the biblical Queen of Sheba, many scholars give preference to a Yemeni origin, instead. Reference

Possibility 2.

The Yemeni Queen Bilqis

An important component of Yemen's claim on the Queen of Sheba is the name. We know that a great kingdom called Saba existed in Yemen during this period, and many historians believe that Saba is Sheba. There is also the Temple of Mahram Bilqis that adds weight to the argument.

 Islamic folklore holds that the Sabean queen's name was Bilqis.
According to Surah 27 of the Qu'ran, Queen Bilqis and her people worshipped a Moon god rather than adhering to Abrahamaic monotheist beliefs.

In the Qu'ranic verses, it it said that King Solomon sent her a letter inviting her to worship his God. Bilqis  was offended and feared that the Jewish king would invade her country. To this end Bilqis decided to visit Jerusalem and question him more about his faith.
In the Qu'ran's version of the story, Solomon enlisted the help of a djinn or genie to help impress her. He ordered the djinn to transport Bilqis's throne from her castle in Sheba to Solomon's in Jerusalem - all in the blinking of an eye.
Understandably, Bilqis was so impressed by this that she converted to Solomon's religion.

Unlike in the Ethiopian epic, the Islamic version does not in anyway suggest a romantic involvement between Solomon and Bilqis.

Is there any archaeological evidence of Bilqis, Makeda or the Queen of Sheba?

2000 - Canadian researchers recommenced studies of the Mahram Bilqis (Temple of the Moon God) in Yemen, which is believed to have been frequented by the Queen of Sheba.  "The sanctuary is packed with artifacts, pottery, artwork and inscriptions, opening a new door to the ancient civilizations of southern
Arabia," says Glanzman. "We've probably excavated less than one per cent of the site, with many of its treasures still buried far beneath the sands. This is the largest and one of the most important pre-Islamic sanctuary sites in Arabia." Reference
The excavation was started in 1951 but halted due to political unrest.
The site contains evidence of animal sacrifices and pottery.

 In 2008 - German archaeologists in the town of Axum in Ethiopia claimed to have discovered the Queen of Sheba's Palace. The remains of the palace were discovered under a more recent palace of a Christian King. Allegedly during this dig, they also found an altar - which allegedly once held The Ark of the Covenant. Ethiopian tradition has long since claimed that the Ark, which contained the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, were smuggled into Ethiopia by Menelik - the Queen's son. It is said that The Queen of Sheba's son returned to Sirius (star constellation) worship after her death, and there is evidence of bull sacrifice around the altar.

In 2012 - British archaeologists claim to have found the Queen of Sheba's mines - or rather ancient gold mines that provided wealth to the country of Sheba. The mines are marked by a 20ft stone slab that bare the mark of the Sabeans - a crescent moon and sun.

2014 - Visitors to Nigeria are able to make a pilgrimage to the Queen of Sheba's Tomb.
In the south western jungle of Nigeria in an area known as Oke -Eiri is allegedly the Queen of Sheba's final resting place. Local tradition in the area states that tomb belonged to a very wealthy, wise widow called Bilikisu Sungo.
It was at her request that her slaves to built an eredo monument for her remembrance. The monument was rediscovered in 1994 by Patrick Darling, a British Geographer. According to local legend the Queen of Sheba left her own lands and ruled over the smaller 1,400 km territory in Nigeria until her death.

Whether the palace, mines or tomb, are really linked to the true Queen of Sheba, is questionable. Yet, she remains a fascinating historical figure, and one I'm certain many would love to uncover the truth about.