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Sunday, July 26, 2015


Well my goodness! It's been months since I posted here. I hadn't realized just how remiss I had been. The reason, of course, was that I have been busy with other blogs, stories and writing events.  Most importantly though, I have been doing a lot of promoting for SHADOW OF THE LION; BLOOD ON THE MOON and this has included various readings and presentations which included writing workshops. I presented a workshop on Travel Writing Basics for the Royal City Arts Society last November and also presented a workshop on So You Want to Write a Historical for the Lit Fest in New Westminster in April 2015.  More recently I conducted a travel writing workshop at my home in the Spring and this weekend did one on Travel Writing Basics for the VPL which was attended by a huge, enthusiastic group of would-be travel writers. 

The "Empowered Writer" award from World Poetry Assoc.

I have also been actively trying to catch up on my travel blogs which you can find here at  
And planning my next adventure, leaving here Aug 28 for England, Wales, Spain and, of course, Greece.  I had run out of travel writing material for one thing and needed some new destinations to write about. And I also love visiting my cousins in Wales, will see some friends in Spain (Torevieja and Malaga) and reunite with all my friends in my adopted city, Athens. 

Meanwhile I am also working on my Celtic novel DRAGONS IN THE SKY, which is moving along rather slowly these days because of all the other distractions. And yesterday I did a Travel Writing Basic's workshop for the Vancouver Public Library which was hugely successful.

So...I HAVE been living the writer's life. And now I'll share a few of the adventures I've had with SHADOW. There's been many great comments about the book and some very good reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads which I appreciate.  After the book launch, I did a reading to a book club group on Vancouver Island thanks to my cousin Lynette.  Then I did a reading/workshop for Grind Writers and Burnaby Writers Spoken Word. I was invited to read at the Vancouver Public Library in June for Greek Heritage Month and also at the Kitsilano Library.  The day I read at the VPL (June 10) happened to be the exact date of Alexander the Great's death.  Both these library readings were well attended and successful. I more recently read for Surrey Muse at the Surrey Public Library, to a small but enthusiastic audience.

Showing my book off to cousins in Wales, 2014

Showing my book off to friends in Athens, 2014

I've been doing a lot of book promo on-line which includes queries to as many local writer's groups (and some across the line in Washington State) in regards to reading and workshops.  I have also sent out notices to as many independent book stores I can find across Canada and to Writer's festivals as well as university classical studies departments.  Unfortunately I have not hear anything back as yet. I really don't know what it takes here to get yourself noticed and invited to these events. I can be rather discouraging when you get no replies at all!  But I will continue to press on with this and hope that eventually a bit more notice will be taken and sales of the book will increase.  (SHADOW is available on Amazon as well as by order through other bookstores such as Barnes & Nobel, Chapters/Indigo etc).  

I am pleased to report that the Canadian Archaeological Society of Athens is planning a book reading for me on October 4.  I'm really looking forward to this and will also be contacting other associations there for the possibility of more readings.

Reading at the Kitsilano Library, June 18, 2015
So that's all the book news I have for now.  I will begin posting bits and pieces about DRAGONS again soon. Currently, I'm trying to catch up on a few blogs and those will include blogs for the novel which can be found at   

 Reading at the Athens Centre, Sept 2014

 Reading at the Athens Community School, Oct 2014 

 Books on display, Burnaby Writers' Spoken Ink, November 2014

Book launch, Hellenic Community Centre, Vancouver January 14, 2015

VOLUME TWO, SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES is due to be released in 2016 by my publisher, MediaAria-CDM,  Bristol England. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015


After a fifteen year journey SHADOW OF THE LION is finally launched into the world.  The first volume of two, SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON was introduced at a very successful book launch sponsored by the Greek Consul at Vancouver's Hellenic Community Centre on January 14,2015.  I couldn't have even dreamed of the reception I got, with a packed house, standing-room-only crowd of fans and supporters.

Mr. Ilias Kremmydas, the Greek Consul spoke highly of the book. He calls it "Greek's answer to Game of Thrones, only it's a true story!"  I have to thank the Greek community, especially the Consulate, for all the support they have given me going back to 1993 when they sent me to Greece to do research.

Mr. Ilias Kremmydas, Consul of Greece 

Here is the opening speech I made, thanking them and to my friends who have supported me and participated in this wonderful event:

My relationship with the Consulate of Greece began in February 1991 after a letter I had written to the Vancouver Sun was published defending the Greek’s Macedonian history. The consulate sent me a book about Macedonia as a way of thanks. Following the letter, a story I wrote, “Macedonia, Greece: The Spirit of Alexander” was published in the Vancouver Province.  This story further piqued the interest of the Greek Consul, Helen Sourani-Potamianos, and she invited me for coffee. During this meeting she expressed thanks that a non-Greek person should support the Greek cause reading the Macedonian question. She was a Greek Macedonian herself and appreciated that I would support this through my writing. I explained that I had studied this history since I was a teen-ager and was just beginning to research and write my novel SHADOW OF THE LION. I had also lived in Greece from 1983 – 87 and had intended to return to Greece when the first Gulf War broke out.  Mrs Sourani-Potamionos suggested that the Consulate would help me return to Greece so I could do further research and she arranged this with the Director for Canada of the Greek National Tourism.
Once I arrived back in Athens, a Greek journalist friend got me an appointment with the Ministry of Culture and in turn, they arranged for me to go to Thessaloniki to meet with the Society of Macedonian Studies. I had an interview with Dr. Prof. Theresa Peutzopoulou who was the secretary at the time and she also arranged for me to meet with a professor from the Aristotle University regarding the history surrounding Alexander the Great. However, he was unavailable, but kindly sent me a bibliography list of book I could use for research.
For most of the ‘90’s I lived in Greece for six months at a time doing research with the help of various Classical scholars, the Finnish Institute who arranged for me to have a museum pass, the Norwegian Institute and the British School library and Gennadius Library where I did some research.

Through the years I’ve kept in touch with the Consulate here in Vancouver to inform them of the progress of the novel, finally its completion and acceptance by MediaAria-CDM publishers. When Mr. Kremmydas received my letter he immediately contacted me and suggested that we meet.  He has taken a genuine interest in my work, both the novel and travel writing about Greece and links have been posted on the Facebook page of Greece in Canada. I have even been invited, if possible, to do some readings back East while the current exhibit “From Agamemmnon to Alexander the Great” is on display.
I have always appreciated the help, encouragement and enthusiastic response for my writing that the Greek people have shown and the generosity of the Greek Consulate in helping me forward my dream, assisting with my research and promoting my novel.
When I was in Greece this past September I was invited to read from SHADOW at the Athens Centre and they provided a reception in the courtyard. I was also invited to Larissa to present my book at a conference for World Poetry, and when I returned to Vancouver, the World Poetry organization here awarded me with an ‘empowered writer’ award.  I also read to two classes of grade 9 students at the Athens Community College. The Greek people have warmly welcomed me to their country which I consider my ‘second home’ and for this I am grateful. Thank you, Greece. This book is for you!

To my 2 children, Alexandrea Evans and Steven Kozak to whom the book is dedicated and my late friend Roberto Hallberg who was such a great support while I was writing and researching in Athens.

To my Scribblers Writers Critique group some of whom, like my friend Susan Lundhal who spoke on my behalf tonight, were with me from the beginning of this 15 yr journey
To my Critique readers:  Ingrid Klassen and Renate Ford who meticulously plowed through the whole 1700 page of the original manuscript and helped me see where I could correct and cut.
To my editor, Joyce Gram, who is the best editor in the Lower Mainland and whose excellent skills were noted by my publisher, MediaAria-CDM of Bristol England to whom I am also so grateful. When the publisher first read the novel he fell in love with it, being a huge fan of Mary Renault. Because it was such a long novel he suggested we split it into two parts. Blood on the Moon is the first part of the story and the second half, The Fields of Hades will be published in 2016. You will also note in the book my acknowledgments to writers Steven Pressfield, Scott Oden and Dr. Jack Dempsey who were my mentors.
Thanks also to my friend, and talented artist PATRICK MCFARLANE who worked diligently on the artwork which unfortunately wasn’t used to its advantage other than the back cover, much to his and my disappointment.
Thanks to my brother-in-law JIM NIELSEN who kindly offered to be my publicist.  And my writer friends MARI KANE who agreed to handle the slide show for me, and DIANNE MAGUIRE for her introduction. And PETER PRONTZOS who generously offered to write a review on SHADOW for the Vancouver Sun and participate in this launch.
And thanks to all the writing community including our guest reader, award-winning poet MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS. I had the privilege of attending a book launch for Manolis in Thessaloniki last September.

My son Steve Kozak and me 
When I was in Greece last September, I purchased a Grecian style gown to wear for this important occasion. I also bought some gold Greek patterned earrings to go with the expensive Macedonian style gold necklace that I had bought previously. My hair stylist, Jackie Love, even did my hair for me (free!) that day.  So I really felt like a kind of 'celebrity' and especially with the grand reception I got and the lineup of people later wanting to buy a signed copy of my book. (I could have sold three times as many as I had on hand!)

So now the launch is over, I am busy promoting the book, lining up book readings and other events. It required dedication to get it all done but it's worth every minute of my time!  I can't express how happy I am about the book finally getting published, and I look forward to volume two THE FIELDS OF HADES which will come out in 2016.  Then we get to do this all over again!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: An Amazing Year of Accomplishment!


Signing the contract for the Athens Guide e-book

Here we are at the end of the year and on the brink of new opportunities.  2014 has opened new doors for me and I know, as I enter the New Year that the way is cleared for me to follow. It’s going to be even more exciting than this year has been.

It all started last February when I received an unusual phone call from Montreal offering me a trip to Egypt (which at first I thought was a scam). It was true, though. I was offered a trip to Egypt by Egyptian tourism to write favorable travel stories.  None of it seemed ‘real’ right through until mid March when the dream trip came true and I found myself sailing down the Nile, crossing the Sahara, lounging by the Red Sea,  visiting the amazing pyramids of Giza and finally, a specially arranged trip to Alexandria.
Visiting the Temple of Hatshepsut

Me and Alexander at Alexandria
You can read my Egypt blogs here:

I was barely catching my breath from that amazing adventure when, in August, my novel SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON was published. Wow! It had been a long, 15 year journey to finally see it in print. (Second volume comes out in 2016). And the incredible thing was, it came out at the same time the archaeologists in Greece announced the discovery of the huge tomb in Amphipolis, which happens to be the setting in part of my story. I was so excited to get my book that a friend drove me down to the States to pick up one she had ordered at Pt. Roberts. What an exciting day that was!
 The book has arrived!


By the end of August I set off for England and Wales, first to visit my relatives in Caerphilly and then to attend the Historical Novel Writer’s Conference in London. While at the conference, who should I run into but Margaret George, one of the famous historical writers who I had spoken to a couple of years ago at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference. At that time she had told me not to worry about the length of my novel, just to keep writing it. (Her books are at least 1000 pgs long!). So imagine how surprised she was when I spoke to her again and told her I ended up with a two-book contract because my book was too long. She was very pleased and we had a nice chat about our writing. (She said she is now being asked to keep her current work in progress down to 400 pages!)

The statue of Alexander in Thessaloniki
Relaxing on the beach at Asprovalta

After my stay in London I headed for Greece. First I headed up north to Thessaloniki to attend local poet/friend’s book launch (Manolis Aligazakis is a Greek/Can award winning poet and will be reading at my book launch in January). I spent a couple of days exploring Thessaloniki and then headed for a few days by the beach at Asprovalta. My purpose for going there was, it was close to Amphipolis and i wanted to see if I could visit the tomb. So I took a taxi and the driver showed me all around. I’d been there twice before but this time I was shown more archaeological sites including a distant view of the famed tomb. 

Distant view of the tomb, Amphipolis
Back in Athens I was warmly received by my friends as well as some of the Greek people who had heard about my book (thanks to my friends who had done some promo work for me!) So I was invited to do a reading at the Athens Centre which included a nice reception in the courtyard. A good crowd attended including people from the Canadian Archaeological Society.

At the Athens Centre.

After that I went up to Larissa where I had been invited to present my book at a World Poetry Peace Conference. That was another special event thanks to Ariadne Sawyer who had introduced me to Chryssa Velissariou who heads World Poetry in Greece.


Young musicians perform at Larissa World Poetry Peace Conference'

Then it was time for some leisure, although I had work to do for the Athens Guide e-book that I was working on so I spent a lot of time checking out new places around Athens including some nice restaurants and wine bars. Meanwhile also doing more book promo, going with my friend Dina to the New Acropolis Museum library, Finnish Institute and checking out other places that might be interested in my book.  My  hostess at the Villa Olympia (Carole) kindly purchased 10 books so there were some available to friends in Athens who wanted to purchase one.
My Friends in Athens

Dina and her family, the two Andreases and young A's girlfriend.

Zoe and me

Carola, Chris and Kim
The whole gang at To Kati Allo
 While in Greece I visited a few days on the island of Salamina (where the famous Battle of Salamis took place in the 5th century BC between the Greek and Persian navy). Christina and I went explore to find some of the archaeological sites and one of the big thrills was coming upon a ‘dig’ and talking in length to the archaeologist who was very interested in hearing about my book.
Christina and me

The archaeology site, unearthing a memorial to Ajax.

Thanks to my friend Zoe, I was put in touch with the principal of the American Community School in Athens and he was happy to arrange a reading for me with the students. So I did two readings at the school for two double-sized Grade 9 kids who were very receptive and appreciative.
The students gave me a beautiful silk scarf

I returned to Canada in October after a few days stop in Germany to see my friend Patrick.  He arranged with his friends for us to go on a tour of the Rhine castles and we also went to the city of Worms so I could gather more travel story material.

Patrick, Juergen and me
Since returning I have done a couple of book readings thanks to my writer friend Eileen Kernaghan (we shared readings) and have made other contacts including that of the Consul of Greece, Ilias Kremmydas, who will sponsor my book launch in January.
After I returned I was also awarded an ‘inspired writer’s’ award from the World Poetry – a mini gold Oscar. That was another cause for celebration! And in December I was invited back on Ariadne Sawyer’s World Poetry radio show for another interview. (That was the second time this year!)
At the awards.
On the Air
My three morning classes “Write from the Heart” went well this past term and will begin again in January as well as (hopefully) a couple of night-school classes thru Langara. I am also doing one-on-one writing coaching and plan to do a travel writing workshop at home. And, I was just offered a job editing a non-fiction manuscript. So I enter the New Year with a lot of interesting things to look forward to.

This year I published 22 travel articles. Got my book published (volume one). Was elected president of the BC Assoc. of Travel Writers. I joined the Canadian Author’s Assoc. and was accepted as a ‘professional’ writer. ( I will soon join the Writers Union of Canada too. ) Finished the Athens Guide e-book for Hunter Publishing US and I look forward to lots more writing in 2015. Mainly I want to finish my current work-in-progress “Dragons in the Sky”.

You can order my book on or ask at your local bookstores

What I’m looking forward to most now is my official book launch on January 14 at the Hellenic Community Centre, sponsored by the Greek Consul. This is such an honour for me and very exciting!
Everyone is invited: 7 pm at the Hellenic Community Centre 4500 Arbutus behind the Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Here’s to 2015!  The doors are opening wide! Let’s hope it’s another year of great opportunities and success!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


My first stop overseas was a visit to my cousin's in Wales.  One night we had a small get-together in a pub and one of my cousins brought her copy of SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON  for me to sign.  That was a thrill, signing my very first book, and with my special golden Horus pen that I'd bought in Egypt.
 After attending the Historical Novel Writers Conference in London (Set 5,6) I went to Greece to visit, promote SHADOW and do some research for the Athens Guide e-book I'm working on for an American publisher.

My first stop in Greece was a quick trip up to Thessaloniki where I attended a poetry book launch of a Vancouver Greek/Can poet friend Manolis Aligizakis. The next day I delivered a copy of SHADOW to the Society of Macedonian studies and then I toured around the city. This included a stop at the statue of Alexander the Great at the harbour of course, and later a tour around to see Kamal Ataturk's house and some other sights.

I was very fortunate to be received so heartily by the Greeks and was invited by the directors, in particular Joanna Theiakou, to do a reading at the Athens Centre (Sept 24) after which there was a reception.  There was a very good attendance and this included some people from the Canadian Archaeological Institute.  I have to thank my friend Zoe Loukopoulous for setting this up for me and putting me in touch with the right people.

Two days later I headed up to Larissa where I was invited to present my book at a World Poetry Peace conference. I spent a delightful evening there with Chryssa Velissariou, my hostess and friends. Then back to Athens on the train the next day. That contact was thanks to Ariadne Sawyer who is in charge of World Poetry here in Vancouver. I have been on her radio program and she introduced me to Chyrssa through FB.

Also thanks to my friend Zoe, I was put in touch with Steve Madeiros, dean of the American Community School in Athens.  We had a meeting and he was enthusiastic about me coming to read to the students. So on my last day in Athens I went and read to two double-sized grade nine kids. They were very receptive, asking interesting questions.  All the staff at the school were so warm and friendly and I really enjoy my morning there. 

Most of my time in Greece was spent in Athens either planning the readings or doing research for the Athens Guide. I did make a 3 day visit to Salamina and enjoyed exploring archaeological sites with my friend Christina.  And one day my friend Carole Barkas, hostess of the B&B where I was staying, invited me to join her on a senior tour up the coast to visit 3 volcanic islands off the north tip of Euboeia.  Carole had also invited me to read for a couple of her reading group friends. And she was very helpful in promoting the book, even ordered a box to sell for me there.

I stopped in at Mainz, Germany for a couple of days enroute home to visit my friend Patrick and do more touring for travel articles material. Then home.  And the excitement continued.

On Oct 19 I was awarded an 'empowered writers' award at the World Poetry Peace Poethon here in Vancouver.  I have a certificate and cute little golden 'Oscar' which sits on the coffee table by SHADOW. That was thanks to Ariadne Sawyer who nominated me for the award. A big honour!

Meanwhile the publisher says he has sent a copy of the book to Oliver Stone because so many people say what a great movie or TV series it would make!  And the Greek Consul, Mr Ilias Kremmydas, has been helping me organize my official book launch which will be on January 14 at the Hellenic Centre here in Vancouver. Meanwhile he told me to send my info to the Greek attache in Ottawa and she has responded with an invitation for me to come to the East (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto) on a reading tour as there are large Greek communities there. I am definitely going to plan for that and will organize something with her for later in the Spring.

I did one reading here when I got back, and there's another coming up in two weeks.  I have been busy sending out promo material about the book and will be seeing my brother-in-law this weekend as he has offered to be my publicist.  Lots to do even though the book is published so there seems no end to it and I'll appreciate the help.

Remember you can get the books at local bookstores if you ask them to order it. In the States or UK they may be on the shelves of main bookstores. In Canada Coles or Chapters will order them. Or get them thru   The local libraries will also be stocking them.

Friday, August 29, 2014


To celebrate the publication of SHADOW (volume 1) I had a little reception and invited some of my most supportive friends to share the afternoon with me. Everyone was really thrilled to actually hold the book in their hands. It looks so impressive and I can hardly believe, when I skim through it, that I wrote all those words!

I'm just about to set off on another adventure, this time partly a book-promo for SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON,  partly for new travel writing material including some research for the Athens Guide e-book I'm working on for a US publisher.

It's been exciting so far, planning the trip. First I'm going to London to attend the Historical Fiction Writer's Conference in London Sept 5 and 6.  Between then and arrival Sept 1 I'll be in Caerphilly Wales visiting cousins.  I leave London Sept 8 for Greece and immediately will go up north to Thessaloniki first to attend a Greek/Can friend's poetry presentation and then to visit the Society of Macedonian Studies and tell them about my book. 

Then I'm going to stop by the archaeological site of Pella for some research for my current w.i.p. and retrace some of my research steps to Amphipolis where they have discovered the famous tomb (probably one of Alexander's generals). Part of book one and most of book two THE FIELDS OF HADES (to be published in 2016) are set in Amphipolis.

During my stay in Athens I'll be doing a reading at the Athens Centre on Sept 24 and then I'm going up to Larissa to a World Poetry Conference on Sept 27 to present my book there. I was recently nominated for an award by the World Poetry and will present my book when I return on Oct 19 at Simon Fraser Uni. downtown campus.

Everything is happening so fast it's breathtaking. And I hope the book sells well. It should now be available through bookstores and libraries. If you don't see if on the shelves, ask if they can order it for you thru

Check out the blog for SHADOW at

Friday, August 08, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


What Have I Been Doing?

Signing the e-book contract
My goodness! It's been six months since I contributed anything to this blog. Meanwhile I have been posting on my travel blog at  But it's time to catch up here with all the news that has been happening which is part of the reason I've not taken the time to post blogs on Living the Writer's Life.

First, besides my book contract for SHADOW OF THE LION (Volume One "Blood on the Moon" will be out by mid August!) I also signed a contract to work on an Athens Guide e-book for Hunter Publishing, US. This is exciting as Athens is like my second home. I'll be returning there in September and while there will do more extensive research for the Guide. Meanwhile, I have most of it written and the publisher is pleased!

Unfortunatly, I haven't had any time at all to work on "DRAGONS IN THE SKY" my Celtic tale. But I'm about to start a new chapter just as soon as I can clear my writing desk of the various projects at hand.

Where Have I Been?
A day at Giza

I've been focusing mostly on travel stories, especially Egypt, since my wonderful, surprising and magical trip there in late March. This amazing travel writer's tour included a special side-trip to Alexandria for me because of the research I did for Shadow of the Lion. So far I've had three of the stories published, one is out to market now and there will be several more written in the next few weeks.  I am writing the blogs first, then the articles so it takes a bit of time.
 Alexander and me at the Library of Alexandria

What's Happening Now?
My night school classes ended with the Winter term and will be no more. However I have still some morning groups, though only the WAVES writers is running now, on Monday mornings. The others will resume in mid October. Meantime I am doing a bit of in-home writing/coaching and this Spring I also did an in-home travel writing workshop. I plan to scout around for more venues to teach classes at and will also try to do more in-home workshops in the Fall.

What Are My Plans?
I'm going to England on August 31 and will visit family in Wales, then attend the Historical Novel Writers Conference in London Sept 5/6. I hope I can do some book readings in UK while I'm there. I fly to Athens September 8 and already have two book readings scheduled. I am planning to go up north to Macedonia -- Thessaloniki and around the area such as Pella, where I'll do some more research for my Dragons novel. I'm hoping to get in touch with the Society of Macedonian Studies who were helpful in my early research of Shadow and perhaps do a reading there. As well I am planning to attend a Greek poet friend's presentation in Thessaloniki.

I will be in Greece untill Oct 8. I plan to stop off in Germany en route home to visit my friend Patrick for a few days. Homeward bound Oct. 11

So that's all the updated news. I'll try to begin posting here again more frequently as soon as I clear my writing desk of projects and get some time to write more blogs.

Enjoying some souvlaki in Monastiraki, Athens.