Thursday, 26 May 2022

Back to Ethiopia: Queen of Ophir


Who can resist an epic tale about the collapse of an empire? Certainly not me. Ever since I touched on the Judeo-Christian relations in Ethiopia in Land of the Lost Tribe, I knew I would go back to that magical land and era one day. Finally, it happens with the release of Queen of Ophir, now available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

In late antiquity, Aksum used to be the mightiest political force in the Horn of Africa. Like all great empires, it eventually fell into decline. Then it experienced a sudden, violent ravaging, much like the Visigoth sacking of Rome, but a lot less well documented. Ethiopian Jewish legends tell that Aksum's nemesis was none other than Judith, a Bet Israel warrior queen who practically razed Aksum to the ground in one swift stroke.

It was a story I had to write, albeit without claims to historical accuracy.

From the blurb:

"For centuries, descendants of Israelite tribes have peacefully existed in their isolated holdfasts in the Ethiopian Highlands. But when a poisonous arrow kills her beloved father, King Gideon, the young Queen Judith declares war. There are only two possible outcomes for her people: victory or destruction.

To aid her cause, Judith promises to marry Sahama, an ambitious exiled prince. Can she trust this handsome but dangerous stranger? Or should she listen to the more prudent advice of her foreign military counselor?

A rich tapestry of court intrigue, adventure, alliances, and betrayals serves as a backdrop to this alternative history tale."

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

The Farmer's Fancy: New Regency/Austenverse Romance


What do you do when the world turns unrecognizable, work takes over your life, and the future seems uncertain? That’s right – you keep writing.

The Farmer’s Fancy, my new Regency era/Jane Austen-verse novel, is a step aside from intricate fantasy, dark dystopian fiction, and gritty historical tales. Quite simply, it is a sweet and comforting read for people who love to immerse themselves in Jane Austen’s world.

Harriet Smith rejects Robert Martin’s proposal because her grand friend, Emma Woodhouse, convinces her that a mere humble farmer is not good enough for her. Disappointed and mortified, Robert resolves to forget about Harriet forever. Little does he know that destiny will soon bring them together again.

Now available at a special release price of only $0.99 on Kindle.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Across the Miles: New Poetry Book by Annie Douglass Lima

I am breaking this unprecedented blog hiatus by announcing the very exciting launch of Across the Miles, a new poetry book by the very talented author Annie Douglass Lima. 

Watch a violinist spin stars and snowflakes into existence and wake dragons. Step into a bookstore full of dusty treasures, and wander through a graveyard for poems that died before their birth. Join a solitary star treading the measures of its stately dance above a rainbow like a stream of dripping jewels. Then mourn with the alien who crash-landed on Earth and can’t get home - but be careful to avoid the deadly shadow creatures slinking through the darkness.

 Grab your copy of this volume of poetry now and embark on an unforgettable journey across the miles!


These poems touch on themes such as travel, friendship, nature, God, music, fantasy, music, animal encounters, and school. Some whimsical, some serious, they include specific, lesser-known varieties of poetry such as pantoum, rondeau, triolet, roundel, and villanelle. 

Read on to sample two of the poems in Across the Miles!

Monopoly (a Pantoum)

A pantoum consists of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of one stanza become the first and third lines of the next stanza. It works well to describe noisy places or repetitive thoughts or conversations.


“Monopoly’s such a fun game.”

“So now how much more do I owe you?”

“Did you pay as much as you claim?”

“The rules are right here, let me show you.”

“So now how much more do I owe you?”

“You’re not getting Boardwalk from me!”

“The rules are right here, let me show you.”

“It’s ‘Get out of Jail for Free’.”

“You’re not getting Boardwalk from me!”

“Will all you guys please be more quiet?”

“It’s ‘Get out of Jail for Free’.”

“You landed on mine, don’t deny it.”

“Will all you guys please be more quiet?”

“I can’t hear a word that you say.”

“You landed on mine, don’t deny it.”

“Just pass me the dice, then I’ll play.”

“I can’t hear a word that you say.”

“Are Reading and Short Line for sale?”

“Just pass me the dice, then I’ll play.”

“So how do I get out of jail?”

“Are Reading and Short Line for sale?”

“She owes you nine hundred for rent.”

“So how do I get out of jail?”

“You know how much money I’ve spent?”

“She owes you nine hundred for rent.”

“Aha, he’s advancing my way now!”

“You know how much money I’ve spent?”

“You landed on Baltic, so pay now.”

“Aha, he’s advancing my way now.”

“Did she roll a three or a four?”

“You landed on Baltic, so pay now.”

“I don’t want to play anymore.”

“Did she roll a three or a four?”

“You owe me two hundred and twenty.”

“I don’t want to play anymore.”

“Don’t buy more hotels – you’ve got plenty!”

“You owe me two hundred and twenty.”

“Did you pay as much as you claim?”

“Don’t buy more hotels – you’ve got plenty!”

“Monopoly’s such a fun game.”



For best effect, read this poem aloud with a stuffy nose and hoarse voice.

I’ve decided I hate the flu – I really do!

The soreness and aching,

the temp’rature taking

which tries to make me a believer that I’ve only got a fever

of 99.2

but I’m pretty sure that thermometer’s a liar

’cause it feels way higher

and I think I may slowly be going insane

’cause my cough’s such a pain

with its racking and its hacking

while all of the drugs that I take are in vain

and my head and my chest

are both tight and congest-

ed, and I’m faced with issues

like running out of tissues

(’cause my drippy nose never stops)

and having to bring cough drops

everywhere I go

and my eyes getting runny

 – and NO! It’s not funny!

’cause I don’t like being in pain and congested and woozy

And inconvenienced and fevered and fluzy.

Want to enjoy nearly a hundred more poems like this? Click here to download your copy of Across the Miles for just $2.99 (that's only about three cents per poem!). Or gift a paperback copy to a poetry-loving friend or family member for Christmas!

About the Poet:

Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and a fantasy-themed cookbook. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

 Connect with Annie:





Amazon Author Page





Thursday, 24 September 2020

A review of The Duchess, by Danielle Steel: indie authors can do better than this

I rarely bother to write negative reviews, because typically I won't stick with a bad book. But this... This is just beyond anything. The ridiculous contrived plot, sloppy editing, and endless exposition are everything indie authors are often warned against. 

This is not some obscure indie author, though. This is Danielle Steel, a prolific bestselling novelist with an extensive readership and a major publisher behind her. I haven't read other books by this author, but if they are anything like this one, I have to wonder how they are able to captivate and sustain a fan base. 

Warning: spoilers ahead! 

Let's start with the plot. Angelique Latham's father gives her 25,000 pounds before he dies. The interest of this sum, in Regency era England, would be enough to support Miss Latham in the rank of a gentlewoman for her entire life. A capital of 10,000 pounds was considered a respectable independent fortune - remember Mr. Elton in Jane Austen's Emma? "He did not throw himself away - he gained a woman of ten thousand pounds, or thereabouts". 

It makes absolutely zero sense for her to be making a living as a nanny - but her next move, opening a brothel in Paris without any moral scruples, is even more implausible in the absence of some cataclysmic event (such as losing her fortune and being left destitute). 

The characters are cardboard cartoons. The love interest is a boring afterthought that pops up in the last section of the book. There are ridiculous errors, like repeatedly stating "the estate was entailed TO him", rather than "ON him". And the writing?

"Her name was Ambre, and she had worn a very elegant dress to the meeting, which showed that she knew how to dress well" (What an astounding conclusion!)

"She spent a huge amount on their clothes and her own. But the house had become extremely profitable" (Why the contradiction?)

"Related to kings in two countries, and daughter of a duke, banished by her brother, she was reduced to working as a domestic, and at the mercy of anyone who would hire her"

This goes on and on. Rambling sentences. Misplaced commas. Faulty logical sequences.

Guys, I'm an editor working directly with authors, and I would never, ever disgrace myself by releasing a book to a client in this state. It just boggles my mind that a MAJOR PUBLISHER with a serious budget has THIS quality of editing. 

But you know what? As an indie author, I'm also glad. If this is the level traditional publishing settles for these days, we can do better.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

The Berserkers: Frozen World 5 is out!


I've been quiet lately, but guess what I have been working on? That's right - The Berserkers, book 5 in the Frozen World series, is out now, featuring genetic engineering, giant reptiles, and villains you'll love to hate. 

"A society of ruthless genetically modified people seeking to recreate a Viking-like culture.

A formidable leader looking for the perfect bride to found a new, supreme race. 
And a girl who has the misfortune to catch his eye thanks to her unique genetic combination."

Does this sound like the beginning of a romance novel? Hahaha, this could be if anyone else were the author!

I am humbled and incredulous when I step back and observe the journey I've undergone with Frozen World, which started over two years ago and was supposed to be a standalone novel. I hope both new readers and existing fans of the series enjoy this latest installment. I was going to say final - but I am hesitant to use that word, because following feedback from early readers, I tend to think I will need to add another volume to really and truly wrap the series up.

And guess what else? To celebrate this new addition to my bookshelf, I'm making The Last Outpost, the first volume in the series, free until September 2, so people who are new to the series take this chance to jump in. Grab your copy today!

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

An Altered World

Lately, I have found myself putting things off: a visit to the bank, the doctor, the post office… “I don’t have to do it today. There’s time. Maybe in a week or two…”
Then I caught myself: why? What is going to happen in a week or two? Will the coronavirus go away? Will it be safer to go out and about?
Not likely. The you-know-what has hit the fan and is now flying in all directions. I’m afraid the world as we used to know it is no more.
A few days ago, we had a huge local demonstration of small business owners—restaurant owners, tour guides, dance instructors—who were all hit hard by COVID and now demand that the government give them a financial boost to keep their businesses afloat.
I understand their plight, I really do. I know what it’s like to be financially desperate. However, I believe that no amount of handouts will enable businesses to operate if they don’t adapt to the new situation (Zoom lessons, takeout instead of sit-down meals, etc). And it often sounds like that: people don’t want to adapt. They want things to go back to normal, refusing to admit that normal has flown out of the window.
Even if we are lucky and the coronavirus disappears (which doesn’t seem likely), the impact of the past months has already hurled the world into a deep recession with a wide ripple effect. To get through it, we must be resilient, resourceful, and flexible.
In the meantime, there’s writing, yarn, gardening, coffee, and any reasonable and effective means of de-stressing. Oh, and good stories. I'm always up for a good story. Dystopian is fine; just don't let it feature a pandemic.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Some Great Self-Editing Tips

Proofreading vs. Line Editing vs. Developmental Editing ...

This week, Joanna Penn brings us a great interview with writer and editor Kris Spisak, and it's just packed with invaluable tips on bringing your novel writing up to the next level. I know I link to quite a lot of Joanna's stuff, but she just brings in so much high-quality content that's too good not to highlight. Plus, as someone who is both an author and an editor, I had a particular interest in this post.

"When you're talking about editing, I like to look at it in terms of three different levels. You have your macro edit where you're really looking at your entire story structure. Does your entire plots make sense? Does your story begin in the correct place? Does it end in the right place? Are your characters fleshed out as much as they need to be?"

Of course, we all deviate from these rules a bit. For example, I find myself almost incapable of doing a first big read-through while leaving punctuation and sentence structure alone. Authors who have worked with me know I'm obsessed with grammar, commas, and overused words, and get so distracted by any typo I see that I must fix it at once. But this doesn't mean I'm missing the big picture. When I see something that doesn't work at the core level, I suggest that the author does some revisions (or, in case I'm working on my own novel, I go and do some rewrites myself).

Joanna and Kris also speak in detail about the importance of having more pairs of eyes on your work. It is absolutely invaluable. I remember when I worked on my first draft of Wild Children, I sent it to my priceless friend and alpha reader, Anna Mantovani. She said she is missing a detailed and fleshed-out villain in the novel - which propelled me to create the character of Alexander Dahl and, later, his daughter Priscilla, who became a core character of the two sequels. None of that would have been possible without an insightful reader who gave me her honest opinion.

And also this:

"So many times people think, ‘Oh, it's a talented writer. He was born that way, she was born that way,' but here's the big secret. No one is born an amazing writer. Everybody has to learn. Everybody has to practice. Everybody has to put in that time."

Certainly, writing is a form of art. But it's also a craft. Nothing is just born out of thin air; every talented and successful person, in every field, has had to put in the work. Without it, without growth and improvement, there's stagnation. I hope it never happens to me. I love learning, and I love working with authors who are ready to learn and improve as well.

Just make sure you don't miss this fantastic interview. It might well be the best thing you've read this year.