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Thursday, July 28, 2016


Reading at the Canadian Institute, Athens,  Oct. 2015

It's been months since I wrote in LIVING THE WRITER'S LIFE.  And yes, it's a very busy life!

First of all, no sooner had Christmas and New Years passed when I was told I'd have to move from the suite I'd occupied for 10 years.  This in itself was a trauma but when I started to look for a new place it was even more nerve-wracking and depressing.  There is a crucial  housing and suite shortage in Vancouver and it's all due to off-shore buyers snapping up houses and paying exhorbitant prices which locals could not afford.  And everyone has gotten so greedy. Imagine asking $1200 for a basement suite!  So for someone living on a pension and considered 'low income' it was a very stressful time. At first I thought perhaps I should put my stuff in storage and go back to Greece but I knew I'd have to soon start edits on Volume 2 of SHADOW so the timing wasn't right.  I thought I'd end  up in a shelter, then a travel writer friend intervened for me and I was shown a suite near where I had been living and I got it.  I moved in the beginning of April but it took a good while to get used to the new place and especially all the traffic noise. But I have adapted and feeling more 'at home' now.
Finally I am able to get back to some more writing, although I have been working on the Greek Island's ebook guide and have completed the Saronic and Ionian Islands part.
Visiting the Cave of Eurypides on Salamina island

Last week I also started the final proof edits for SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES and it is due to be published in October. If' you've read Volume One BLOOD ON THE MOON I know you must be anxious to get this second part of the book. And I can assure you it is one that will keep you turning the pages!

 The Temple of Poseidon

I got some inspiration from Lord Byron when I was visiting Cape Sounion
Meanwhile, I am planning a trip to the Islands, starting with Corfu. Flying to London first, on September 4, and visiting briefly with cousins in Caerphilly, Wales, then on to Corfu and a bit of Ionian island hoping until I reach Athens. Then later I hope to visit Crete and a few other islands including my favorite island, Naxos.
 Temple of Apollo, Naxos.

 Naxos Sunset

It's nice to be back in blog writing mode and I hope you'll see more of me in the future. 

Monday, December 21, 2015


I'm feeling very proud of my writing accomplishments these days. I've just signed about contract which means it's the third one in three years!  This is a contract for an ebook about the Greek Islands, to be published by Hunter Publishing,US. I'm really looking forward to the adventures this is going to lead me on. I've already visited 25 of the hundreds of Greek Islands, and written many stories about these visits. But there are several, namely Crete and Thassos, that I'd like to revisit and also several I'd like to visit for the first time. So it looks like my next trip to Greece will be Island Hopping.  Should be great fun! Like ATHENS AND BEYOND it will not only contain tourist information but stories about the various islands that I have visited.

Signing the contract for the Greek Island e-book, December 2015

A few months ago my second e-book was published,  ATHENS AND BEYOND published on KINDLE, Amazon by Hunter Publisher. I signed the contract for that one December 2014. It is available following this link:
I had fun doing this book too. Of course I have lived in Athens and travel there almost every year so I already had a lot of background stories about the city and surrounding areas. The ebook contains not only tourist information but stories about various places I have visited in the city or for daytrips.

Signing the contract for ATHENS AND BEYOND, December 2014

My first and biggest book signing agreement was in August 2013 when I signed the contract for my two-part novel SHADOW OF THE LION.  Because of the novel's length the published MediaAria-CDM from Bristol England, chose to divide it into two book. So in fact, I was signing a two-book contract.  

The first edition was out in July 2014  SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON and the second volume will be produced in 2016 SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES
This is a historical fiction novel based on a historical time-line that is about the fall of Alexander the Great's dynasty. I did a lot of traveling in Greece and Asia Minor while researching this book and it took a long time to write it with the help of the Greek Ministry of Culture and many academics and archaeological Institutes in Greece.

Signing the contract for SHADOW OF THE LION, August 2013

Available on Amazon or at high street book stores, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, etc. 

So I'd say as we enter 2016 I've gathered a pretty good track record. Meantime I've got another historical novel on the go and hopefully will have it finished before long. Who knows, maybe I'll have another book contract to sign in 2016?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Well here I am again after several months absence!  I left my home the end of August for an extended trip to Europe, starting with London which included a walking tour of the Cotswolds. Then on to Caerphilly Wales to visit cousins. From Cardiff I flew to Alicante Spain and was met by my travel writer friend Inka who hosted me at her home in Torrevieja for several days. Then I traveled by bus to Malaga where I stayed with friends from Vancouver who run an English school there. On Sept. 10 I flew to Athens, Greece where I spent the rest of my vacation which was partly fun and partly writing related work. I went to Naxos for a week of rest and meditation, staying 3 days in a bed-tent at Maragas beach and 3 days in a lovely hotel near Agia Ana. Managed to draft 5 poems and the beginnings of a new chapter for my current w.i.p. Dragons in the Sky.

There were many highlights of this wonderful trip but mainly I want to refer to those related to my writing.  That is, the excellent reading I was invited to do at the Canadian Institute on Oct 7 in Athens.  This was quite a thrill for me. A week earlier I'd been introduced to a group of Greek academics at the Hellenic Institute for Strategies and was treated like a visiting celeb. Many of them attended my reading of SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON at the Canadian Institute.

I have been so well received by the Greeks and by these organizations in Athens who invited me to read. The Canadian Institute has invited me to return next year when book two THE FIELDS OF HADES is published. And I also received another invitation from the Athens Centre where I read last year.

I had many adventures on this trip and most of them were related to finding new travel writing ideas. I'll be posting on my  soon but here's one of the highlights from Greece related to historical writing.

A visit to the Cave of Euripides

The Greek poet/dramatist Euripides was born on the island of Salamina and live for a while in cave up on the mountainside.  When I went to visit my friend on Salamina she told me about climbing to the cave but said it was a steep climb. This year I was determined to make an attempt to reach it. It turned out to be not as difficult as I'd anticipated as it was a switchback trail.  What a thrill it was to stand outside the cave where this renown writer had penned some of his famous dramas!  Apparently there were nine rooms in the cave. You aren't allowed to venture in now as it would be dangerous because of some erosion. But just to stand there and take in the magnificent view down the mountain toward the sea was an inspiring experience for me.

I'll post more writing news here soon. I'm scheduled to go on a radio program next week for World Poetry to talk about my adventures and the book.  SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON has been well received and I'm anticipating the next volume to be ready by next year. Hope to start the final edits on it soon!  While I Athens I also visited some bookstores to inquire about translations and gathered a bit of info for my publisher. The Greeks are very anxious to see this novel translated so I hope this eventually will be possible.

Meanwhile, the book promo goes on. This week I'll volunteer at the Surrey International Writer's Conference which will give me a chance to schmooze and make some new literary contacts.
My writing classes have resumed and soon I hope to be offering some more workshops.

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!