Chronicle of the Mound Builders
written by Elle Marie
published by CreateSpace
About the book – from Goodreads: Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site in the St. Louis area. Knowing the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is determined to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved codex.
In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his 12-year-old son. They travel from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River to settle in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds, Illinois.
Angela recognizes the symbols as Aztec pictograms and begins to translate the story. However, other forces also want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she learn the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?
Please enjoy the following excerpt from Chapter 23 of Chronicle of the Mound Builders.
Dr. Oettendorf sat at the ancient, chipped desk, tapping his pen impatiently as his students turned in their test papers one by one. He could tell by their expressions if they had done well or poorly. He was surprised at the number of glum faces. He hadn’t thought it was an especially difficult test.
He was anxious to get back to the dig and see the progress his assistants had made. When the bell finally rang, he grabbed the stack of exams and hurried to his car.
At the park, Adam was squatting near the skeleton, brushing away dirt. Tonya was nowhere to be seen.
Adam looked up as the professor approached.
“Hi, Dr. O.!” he called. “Let me show you what I’m working on. I think you’ll find this interesting.”
He scooted back to reveal the objects he had uncovered. Next to the original skeleton was a smaller one. A rib cage was exposed, as well as four legs and a tail.
Franklin peered at the new find.
“Good work, Adam,” he said. “These bones must be part of a dog’s skeleton.”
“Is this unusual?” asked the freckled graduate student. “Did the Mound Builders bury animals with their dead?”
“It was a fairly common practice,” replied the professor. “A dog would be buried next to its master with its head facing west, as this one is. The Indians believed the dog would guide the man’s soul to the spirit world and protect him.”
Dr. Oettendorf paced around the burial grounds, his hands clenched behind his back.
“Something’s bothering me about this,” he said. “Usually bodies were left on high platforms for the weather and animals to clean the flesh off the bones.”
“But efficient. The bare bones were cremated in a charnel house, then the charnel house itself was burned and a mound was built over the remains. Artifacts were often buried with the cremated remains, as well as dogs.”
The professor stopped pacing and pointed to the human skeleton.
“But in this burial mound, the man’s skeleton was found intact with its feet towards the east, arms crossed over the chest. It appears the body was wrapped in a reed mat. There are no signs of burning or animal tooth marks. Very unusual.”
“It looks like some type of ceremonial burial,” suggested Adam.
“Yes, obviously,” said Dr. Oettendorf irritably. “The man didn’t just drop dead in his tracks and fall into this position.”
Sorry for trying to help, thought the graduate student. What a grouch!
“Adam, please continue your work. I need to meet with Major Benton. I’ll be back in a few hours.”
Dr. Oettendorf turned and left abruptly, leaving Adam shaking his head in confusion. He’s so anxious to make progress but he never sticks around for long. And where the hell is Tonya?
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Elle Marie, author of Chronicle of the Mound Builder, to the blog today. She is on tour with CLP Blog Tours and has prepared the following guest post for all of you.
Switching gears from nonfiction to fiction was a pretty big deal to me. First of all, I love writing nonfiction. It’s fun and easy. I’ve written technical articles and reports for my ‘real’ job for over 30 years, so I feel very comfortable with factual, nonfiction writing. Just pick a topic you know something about, organize your thoughts, and then start writing. Of course there’s more to it than that. Additional research is always needed, even if you’re an expert in your field.
I wrote my first nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, to tell my story of losing weight and keeping it off for over 10 years (so far!). The research I did was mainly interviewing lots of people to find out their success stories to add to the techniques that had worked for me. All the great information they gave me helped shape the direction of the book. It evolved from a personal story into a blueprint for people to follow for creating their own personalized weight maintenance plans. I invented a fun quiz so readers could find out their eating personalities to guide them in selecting the techniques that would work best for them. I also did a lot of research to find effective exercise and motivation strategies, choosing the most relevant and interesting information to include in my book.
Writing Living the Thin Life was a great experience, but then I decided to turn to fiction. I’d always wanted to write a novel and actually made a few half-hearted attempts over the years, but didn’t get serious about it until I got the idea for Chronicle of the Mound Builders. After reading a newspaper article about a real dig site near my home, I decided to write a mystery about how the Cahokian Mound Builders vanished centuries ago. The ideas started flowing – I created a family from the 1300s and followed their journey to Cahokia, their struggles in building a life there, and their witnessing the final destruction of the civilization. At the same time, I developed a story line about a modern archaeologist uncovering clues and gradually unraveling the mystery to discover what really happened to the Mound Builders – and running into some difficulties herself along the way. Now that I had a concept and a rough outline, I was ready to start.
In some ways writing fiction and nonfiction are similar, at least for me. I was surprised to realize that fiction required a lot of research, too. For Living the Thin Life, I researched articles and books about weight loss, exercise, and motivation. For Chronicle, I researched things as varied as Native American tattoos, Aztec symbols, how to escape if you’re trapped in a cave, and how to make paper from deerskin. Before writing a scene, I made sure I’d done all the research so I could make it as realistic as possible. An example is when I had to describe a bear attack. I’ve never been attacked by a bear, so I researched actual attacks and learned quite a lot. Did you know that bears will typically try to bite the head of their victim? This is because the biggest danger for them comes from the victim’s teeth – their strongest weapon. If the head and fangs are immobilized, the bear can easily deal with legs and claws. Once I learned that, I worked it into my scene. I learned a lot more about bear attacks than I ever wanted to know!
There is also a very different thought process when writing fiction. For technical or nonfiction works, it’s important to have your facts straight and not deviate from the strict truth. But with fiction, you have the freedom to let your imagination run wild and come up with your own ‘truth’. The characters and scenes played out inside my head, and my job was to capture the action and dialogue and put them down on paper (or computer).
Although writing a novel was hard work, for me much harder than nonfiction, in the end I found it very fulfilling. I can’t wait to get started on my next book!
About the author: Elle Marie started writing at the urging of her husband, who always believed she was destined to be an author. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14thcentury? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together.By day, Elle works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card!
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!