Thursday, October 30, 2014

Diana Wilder goes South

Here is another superb writer of Ancient Egyptian fiction who went “South.” If this is a trend, it definitely is a worthy one, although Diana Wilder’s Egypt is something to behold.

While you are at it, don’t miss checking out The Memphis Cyclea four-volume saga set in New Kingdom Egypt after the time of Akhenaten—fascinating (and there is the promise of a fifth, Kadesh).

But, back to Diana and the American South:
(Here, Diana’s website has great background information)

Imagine Paris in the 1830's. If you can’t do so readily, Wilder’s colorful descriptions will carry you along as if you were there, listening for echoes of Napoleon's France, light, darkness, splendor and poverty, all blending into a stunning tapestry that is The Orphan's Tale.

Diana’s interest in the American South began when she wrote a story some years ago, then put it aside. Lately, and luckily, she retrieved and polished it until it became a story of hope, courage and love set in 1864 Georgia, told so beautifully in

If this hasn’t wet your whistle for some great reading, I don’t know what will. And, as always with Diana, she has two more Southern tales in store. Now, go check out Diana’s author page(s):

You know, this is where you can buy her books for Kindle as well as in print; and when you do and after you read them, please let her know how much you appreciate her talent, time and dedication to research – by leaving a nice review.

Of course you can, nay, must be honest; we wouldn’t have it any other way. Writers don’t mind working hard, getting up in the middle of the night to jot down that perfect turn of a phrase; we don’t even mind starving for our passion and craft – but, oh, how we do appreciate a reaction to all our sweat and tears (true-sometimes) from our readers.

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.