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!