Monday, October 27, 2014

In Between - A Little Shameless Self-Promo

The kind folks behind this new site champion independent and self-published books. But they are picky-picky in order to present only the best to their readers. So allow me to crow just a little about the inclusion of KHAMSIN (and I promise, I won't put my happy-dance on YouTube...not that I would know how to, anyway).

Just knew you were dying to know...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review of Tidewater: A Novel of Pocahontas and the Jamestown Colony, by Libbie Hawker

In August, I featured the launching of Tidewater: A Novel of Pocahontas and the Jamestown Colony, by Libbie Hawker on this blog. 

I was fascinated that this fellow-writer of Ancient Egyptian history had not only changed to a different pen name, but had ‘come home,’ so to speak. With the haunting cover of a girl named Mischief (Pocahontas), I thought my interest with it was done.

Until I started reading the book. As a discerning reader, Tidewater took my breath away; as a writer, it left me humbled. Language is our extraordinary ability so often squandered and defiled these days. With Tidewater, Libbie Hawker has restored this precious gift to her readers. Those who might shy away from the word “lyrical” will sadly be missing out. There are a number of similes and at some time, I wondered if they would become a detractor; but soon, just like "Il Postino" craving the poet Pablo Neruda's metaphors, I savored the trompe l'oeil Hawker created for my mind.

We can be thankful that this—true, quite long—novel is self-published. I shudder to think that a publisher, eager to adhere to production-hemmed constraints, would have slashed and burned much of the descriptive and, yes, lyrical passages. It would still have been a terrific story; but it would have lost its soul. Of course, Libbie Hawker is no newcomer to writing. Under the pen name of Lavender Ironside, her historical fiction set in Ancient Egypt is highly successful.

Back to Tidewater: I am not prone to gushing. But this is by far one of the most beautiful, expressive novels I have read in quite a while. As I said, it is long; it demands care and attention. But the reward is deep involvement, from the natural settings to the people’s lives. You can feel the icy wind bite into bare skin, smell the last frozen berries being harvested, and sense dark eyes ghosting through the underbrush.

The clash of two cultures is insidious at first, ebbing back and forth like the sea washing into the mouth of the tidewater; its mudflats sucking at careless intruders. Timorous trading, bold demands, arrogance and unequal battles finally seal the fate of this New World. Caught up in it, through young curiosity and an inane desire to be recognized by her elders, is the girl-child aptly-named Mischief: Pocahontas.

As the well-adapted ‘Naturals’ and the befuddled English settlers continue to struggle against nature and each other, their survival becomes the focal point of the novel. Without unnecessary gore or heroics, you are placed squarely into the middle of the conflict, rooting for one then the other, wishing that none of it should have to be. Both sides need to stay true to their own culture. It was the only way they knew; their only way to live; their only way to die.

Tidewater is a novel I shall read again, if not solely for its story then for the enjoyment of its writing. As both are fused into this masterful novel, I will find new insights. I cannot recommend Tidewater highly enough. It is truly an outstanding example of the best writing there is.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Behind the Lime Kilns, Poems 2, by Jim Bennett

Almost a year ago, on November 28, 2013, I featured the Canadian poet Jim Bennett, and then began to read and review his work. For some reason, I read his volumes in reverse order from Poems 5 downward (possibly my pithy nod to controversy).
Now, that I arrived at Behind the Lime Kilns, Poems 2, I realize how much had changed over the course of this journey. Regressing, as you will, I find this earlier work gentler, albeit still suggestive–whereas the later volumes show a decidedly harsher side of dreams, of life itself.
What made this poet shed his inhibition? What emboldened him to share? Whatever it was, it works for Bennett and his poetry.

In his foreword to Behind the Lime Kilns, Poems 2, Bennett states: “Poetry is about Truth.”
Indeed. Plus, I think, it is about feelings, and awe; the awe I feel when I come across true poetry. Not words that rhyme in silly cadence, spouting mundane happenings (we’ve all done that); but poems that throng about your very soul, rattle your conscience, stab at your heart. Such is the poetry of Jim Bennett.
Origami, the first poem in Behind the Lime Kilns, is—to those who know, or those who have refused to forget—deliciously suggestive in its simplicity (and this poet definitely has not forgotten). Power Hits indeed hits hard those who are alone, whereas Keyboard and Toothsome Wishes lifts the corner on a bit of wicked humor as, at last, the theme poem Behind the Lime Kilns causes you to breath, “Oh, no.”

Jim Bennett’s later books may be more demanding, more sophisticated if you will, but all five volumes should go down in the annals of True Poetry. More importantly, they should be read, and savored, to make you feel that “Poetry is about Truth.”

Jim Bennett’s poetry books can be found at Amazon

Print versions are available from the Lulu Store in paperback and as e-pubs:

I urge you to visit Jim Bennett’s website where you will find some great images and also a few interesting observations about life in today’s Canada.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Slowly Vanishing - From View, From Memory?

Sold, Defaced or Bulldozed, the Berlin Wall is slowly Vanishing

Peace: War’s Abandoned Grave

From its cache’d acorn womb
the seedling sprouts through pungent moss,
soon greened by a rambunctious spring’s exuberance.
The Westwind, taking pity, laughs and heaves
and trembles off the would-be devourer of tender leaves.

The sapling climbs toward the tranquil summer sky,
shading the meadow by the river,
until the Eastwind, cold and blustery,
defeats the balmy climes
and heralds in this city’s soon-to-come hart-breaking times.

Branches at half-mast, the tree holds silent vigil
against the rapings by lust-driven Ural-hordes.
Its meadow barren, flowers vanquished under iron treads,
the oak, denuded in the smoke-veiled morn’,
breathes acrid mist from the River Spree, forlorn.

Amber tears drip from the tree’s strafed bark
as the proud city, quartered by its raucous victors,
writhes in shredded ruin, a graveyard of the living dead.
A people torn apart, despaired,
as brother now must fear the brother whom war had spared.

A saw’s rasping bite takes hold;
the last tree topples at the cusp of dawn.
The oak’s green planks strain vainly toward freedom
from deep within the cursed Wall.
A fire-blackened church accuses, a grim reminder to them all.

The pendulum of time reverses.
Survivors hail their former foe.
To these living dead, abandoning their graves of war,
as if he were a citizen, but keener,
a young world leader avows peace with:
Ich bin ein Berliner!
* * *

(Excerpt from Moments of the Heart)
"In Moments of the Heart, you are in for a strange and wonderful trip, a most interesting read. Many of the individual pieces are quite unique. This is a writer of wide range and strength. Recommended."
Jim Bennett, KBR Review Team member.
* * *

President John F. Kennedy, right, stands on tower at the U.S. Army's Checkpoint Charlie overlooking the barbed wire wall dividing East and West Berlin, June 26, 1963. In background is East Berlin, Germany. Standing next to Kennedy is West German Chancellor Konrad Adenhauer, back to camera, and standing beside Adenhauer is West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt, back to camera. (AP Photo)

Monday, October 6, 2014


One of the most dedicated - hence prolific and successful - Indie Writers is Russell Blake, a versatile and unstoppable author.

Not even Hurricane Odile, sending him scrambling from his home in Cabo San Lucas to the Mexican Mainland (with two large dogs, no less) could deter his publication schedule.

Despite the destruction around him, Russell has just released Books 1 and 2 of his new Young Adult Series, writing as R. E. Blake.

GOING LIVE on OCTOBER 7  are Books 1 and 2:

        Less Than Nothing

Barnes and Noble:

More than Anything

Check out R. E. Blake's Author Page on Amazon:

Available on Amazon as a Pre-Order is Book 3: 

Best Of Everything

And with that, Russell, 
your followers and friends wish you
The Best of Everything - you deserve it.

* * *
PS - Don't miss Russell Blake's books listed on his other author page on Amazon - You'll be amazed, I promise you.

Did you know that Russell just co-authored a novel with the illustrious Clive Cussler?
I'd give my eye-teeth for a chance like that; oh, wait, perhaps I could offer something else to entice the great man? No worries, it won't happen - and I can just  dream on.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Helen Hollick, A Lady Wearing Many Hats

Helen Hollick

wears many hats not only when it comes to her novels, 
but in her endeavors to bring the best Indie Authors 
to the fore of the reading public.

I knew right away that we had several things in common – and I am not just talking about stylish hats. She loves animals and ships as much as I do.

Her novels--too numerous to picture here--are of kings and queens (British, of course), pirates, damsels, and wonderful old ships sailing the high seas in the 18th Century when a lady was a lady (at least, in public) and a boy became a man quickly, or died trying.

Check out her many interesting novels:

As far as wearing all those proverbial hats, no one evokes the old saying “Give a busy person a task and it will be done” more than Helen. Not only a prolific author, she is also the Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Reviews: 

As such, she has become a great champion of the Indie Author. Throughout the year, she accepts submissions, collates them, and sends them out to be reviewed by her UK team. In the US, her colleague Steve Donoghue does the same.  (I was fortunate enough to have my KHAMSIN not only reviewed by him, but chosen as his Editor’s Choice for that month)

This year, Helen brought to life and organized the judging of the First Indie Award at the Society’s London Conference. If was something she had to fight for as the conference organizers wanted to stick with trad-published books.

It takes really dedicated people to choose, read, and select the best from among hundreds of the outstanding offerings. Eight novels wound up on the short list. From those, four finalists were chosen. (Khamsin was NOT among those, although it did make the original shortlist of eight out of quite a few books, I was consoled. Still, it is something I am proud of and thankful for.)

Did Helen swipe us four aside like pesky has-beens? Certainly not. On the contrary. She graciously featured each of us among the four finalists on her blog. This will give especially the four of us who didn’t make it into the finals added exposure (being somewhat on the prissy side, that’s one type I don’t blush about one bit).

Be sure to follow Helen’s entertaining and informative blog on many subjects; where you’ll get to know some awesome authors:

I am not just happy to feature another interesting novelist, animal lover (and let’s not forget fearless hat-wearer), but this is my way of a much too small Thank You to a tireless champion of the Indie Author.

Thank you, Helen,

as well as your team members of intrepid reviewers.

We Indies appreciate you all

Be sure to read more about Helen and her books on her website and connect with her through her social sites:

Main Blog:
Leaning on the Gate – Devon Diary:
Twitter: @HelenHollick
Newsletter :

Saturday, August 16, 2014


KHAMSIN, The Devil Wind of The Nile,

is being featured at 

eBookSoda -
as their Historical Fiction selection 
on SUNDAY, August 17

For readers who have not come across this new site:
They'll be sent ebook recommendations tailored to their taste, 
check out
you might find it a great free resource for your reading pleasure, and might want to join.

SIROCCO, Storm Over Land and Sea

is being featured at

The Fussy Librarian

as their Action & Adventure selection on

SUNDAY, August 17.


Join for free and find your perfect literary match.

Poor old CATACLYSM -- needs two more reviews to be featured --

Any kind souls out there who have read--and hopefully liked--it?

Can't be featured unless it has 10 reviews...ghost ship, rats, another bad storm and - of course - the Ancient Golden Tablets.

"Like a Dirk Pitt novel, only better..." wrote a reviewer...

So, how about it, friends?
Want to read it for free and review it? Just contact me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Great Story about Pocahontas

Today, I am so pleased to acquaint you with a brand new novel by my
historical fiction writer-friend, 

Libbie Hawker

TIDEWATER is a story about a woman who has captured our imagination for a few centuries now, mostly with myths and legends overshadowing reality. In her novel, Libbie did not shy away to let the truth be known; and therefore instill in us even more admiration for this extraordinary life.

Don't you just love this hauntingly beautiful cover?

Here is what Libbie shares with us about 
researching and writing her novel:

Many people, especially women, are acutely aware of how few women are represented by the annals of history. When our deeds and contributions are recorded by historians, it's often in the context of how we related to the men of our times. Women are frequently given "supporting roles" in history, acting as motivation or reward for the men who move the world.

But of course, women have always played an equal part in shaping politics, culture, and history. It's our status as second-class citizens that relegates us to the sidelines of history. How much more extreme is this effect for non-white women in European and North American history, who are remembered not only for their relationships to men, but to white men specifically?

The Pocahontas myth is one that is hugely beloved by many people around the world, especially in the USA. But I knew that Pocahontas was a real woman with a true history, and that the story of her life probably had little or nothing to do with a tempestuous love affair with a white man. I became interested in writing a novel about Pocahontas's life years ago, and as I researched the true history of this woman and the changing world she lived in, I found that the real story was even more exciting, moving, and awe-inspiring than the familiar myth.

I worked hard to portray Pocahontas and her people as accurately as I could. I hope that Tidewater will give readers a clearer idea of what life was like for the people of the Powhatan Confederacy as the sun began to set on their empire. I hope, too, that seeing Pocahontas in her own light, outside of the requisite context of her supposed "love" for a famous white man, will make her more real to everybody who reads her story.

She was an exceptionally intelligent person with many talents, a charming personality, and a generous heart. She and her family shaped history in such incredible ways that the influence of the Powhatans is still evident in American culture and in the English language to this day.

Without Pocahontas, the history of the United States would have been very different for both Europeans and Native Americans... for good or ill.

* * *

So hot off the press it is still steaming, TIDEWATER is available in Kindle format for right now, but Libbie is working on the print version to be available soon.

Libbie Hawker's Amazon Author Page 
(which also includes her acclaimed Egyptian series, written as L. M. Ironside)

Also, make sure to visit Libbie Hawker's web site:

Friday, August 8, 2014

And the Winner Is ...

Brian Braden, author of BLACK SEA GODS and TEARS OF THE DEAD, and organizer of his great Book Launch, just informed me of the WINNER of my event offering.


But as I am a rather discreet person, I am not going to bandy someones name about without their permission. All I can say is that a knowledgeable lady in the UK answered my trivia question correctly and won the print copy of SIROCCO, Storm over Land and Sea (to arrive at her house by approx. August 12, Amazon-UK promised).

Brian also told me that my little riddle took the longest time to be solved--geesh, someone needs to read more Historical Fiction or love maps as much as I do.

I had asked the Name of the best-known ancient caravanserai located in present-day Mali?
Answer: Timbuktu - (also correct are Timbuctoo or Tombouctou).

If someone ever told you to "go to Timbuktu," it was a sure indication that your presence wasn't quite appreciated.

Anyway, the event is still in full swing on FB through tomorrow. So check it out and answer a few question to win some great books:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014



the exciting  sequel to BLACK SEA GODS,

debuts August 8th

Brian Braden is hosting a Facebook debut party, with dozens of authors and several businesses giving away over 100 e-books, paperbacks and audio books. Joining the event gives you a chance to win.

The winning starts August 7th -

and continues through August 9th.


For this even, Brian has invited dozens of authors to celebrate with him – and I am among one of the lucky ones. Participating authors are contributing lots of books to be won.

Thursday, August 7 – Starting Mid-Afternoon (US Central Time)

“Join” the event by logging into Facebook here:
On the right-hand side you’ll see buttons that say “JOIN, DECLINE, MAYBE.” Click on JOIN and you’re in.

After that, the event will be listed under the Events tab on the left-hand side of your FB screen.

If you don’t have a Facebook account, but know someone who does, you can simply email the link. They can use it to join the event.

I will be giving away a print copy of SIROCCO, Storm over Land and Sea, Book 2 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab (US/Canada/UK only).

Now, go and do a lot of "liking" and even more "sharing,"
and answer a few trivia questions
to win bunches of great Indie Books.

Check out Brian Braden’s First Novel here:
He also reviews books here:

Black Sea Gods, Brian's Book 1 of the Chronicles of Fu Xi

See my review of this great novel in my previous post.