Category Archives: novel excerpt

Novel excerpt: Pulse, by HJ Daly

Today I’d like to introduce author HJ (Helen) Daly, whose debut novel, Pulse, is getting some rave reviews on Amazon UK and Goodreads. The book is a YA story set in a post-apocalyptic world with both futuristic and magical/fantasy elements, and today Helen has very kindly agreed to let me post an excerpt from it. So, without further ado, here it is!


Pulse, by HJ Daly

Pulse, by HJ Daly

The searing pain in her arms told her she was still tied to the tree, yet she felt very little from her shoulders down. As her head still fought against the fog she couldn’t think straight enough to worry about the absence of pain. Hearing the groan at her feet she forced her eyes open. Terry had been dragged to one side, but still in touching distance. Blood from her broken nose was smeared across her face.

Scanning the line of prisoners she noted Rootu, on his knees, blood pouring from a cut over his eye. Flo’s eyes were red; one half closed the bruising taking its time to show, and Ryan struggling to stay up right, blood matting his hair to his head. All those people injured, in pain because of her. If she could only concentrate long enough to put an end to this madness.

A deadly hush had settled over the clearing, black clouds covering the afternoon sky, spots of rain scattered over the bare branches.

“Ah, back with us I see.” Amy turned to face Esa. “Keep the others in line. If they move kill them.” A large number of guards had appeared and positioned themselves along the line, weapons in hand.

Esa met Flo’s eyes; all she saw was panic, which was no doubt mirrored in her own. It was easy to guess what Amy would do next, cause her as much pain as she could before finishing her off. If she could distract Amy long enough she would help the others escape, it was the least she could do.

“Let’s get on with this.” Esa whispered, “Just promise to leave them alone.”

“Let’s see what you have to say and I might consider it,” Amy breathed as her eyes flicked to the flames dancing across her blade in the stirring fire. “Now Ugarth here,” she gestured to the goblin “says you know more than you’re telling.”

“What more do you want to know?” Esa felt a dull ache in her side as Amy leaned in.

“Where to begin?” she whispered in her ear. “How about telling me the name of this famed mage, what she looks like, or where she is now?”

“I don’t know, she kept to herself, barely talked to anyone and left after crossing the boundary.”


Esa tasted the blood in her mouth and the sting across her face. Fog clung to her mind and she tried to concentrate.

“Let’s try again. What does she look like?”

“Me, only not as pretty.” Spitting blood from her mouth Esa managed a smirk.

“Now that’s the girl I remember, pity Thomas isn’t here to see this. Wonder where he’s hiding?”

“I don’t know.” Her tone was full of bitterness as she let numerous images pop into her head. She would die here and he would never know, would never care.

“Oh, this just gets better.” Amy broke into Esa’s thoughts. “He dumped you here with this lot, it’s a shame I don’t have time for some real fun.” The tip of the dagger glowed when she pulled it from the fire and watched the prisoners heave at their bindings. “Tell you what,” she whispered in Esa’s ear, “once I’m through here, I’ll find Thomas tell him how you begged and screamed his name before Urgath had a little fun and then I’ll have great pleasure in watching him die.” She watched the pain fill Esa’s eyes and smiled. “Now where were we … ah yes, tell me where she is.”

Amy grabbed Esa’s bound hand, pulling her fingers forward. She braced herself as the blade touched her skin, the heat searing her knuckles. This time only a moan escaped her lips. She was too exhausted for anything else.

“I said where is she?”

The blade continued down her already bloody arm. Heat rose together with the scream that had been building in her throat. The prisoners moved as one, twisting and turning as they fought with the guards as best they could.

Ignoring her own pain Esa watched the other prisoners as the guards started to push them back. Even bound they gave all they could and in return the guards had drawn weapons and were hacking at those closest to them. She couldn’t let these people die for her, she didn’t deserve it. “Stop!” the shout carried over the clearing. “Enough, I’ll tell you everything just stop this. Please.”

“Esa no, don’t say a word, we’re not worth it,” Flo yelled as the guards continued to slash away.

“Stop!” Amy’s shout resounded around the clearing and the guards backed off. “Is this going to be something special?” Amy’s blade rested playfully on Esa’s throat and she could smell the burning of her own skin. “This will make a nice addition to the others,” Amy continued as she swiped Esa’s hair to the side and indicated to the snaking scar twisting around her neck. “That must have been a mighty beating. You’re always in the wrong place at the wrong time, aren’t you?”


Well, that was a good way to whet the appetite, wasn’t it? Thanks again to Helen for the excerpt, and if you want to find more you can find Pulse at Amazon UK, or Helen on her blog, Facebook and YouTube.

HJ Daly

HJ Daly

HJ Daly is a first-time novelist who used to make up stories and poems for her kids, and then started taking writing more seriously when they went to school full time. Pulse was written very quickly but then sat in a drawer for some time before she pulled it out again and decided to send it out to make its way in the world.


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Novel excerpt: Equinox (Ethos) by Desiree Finkbeiner

Today I’m thrilled to be featuring an excerpt from Ethos, Equinox by Desiree Finkbeiner. You may recall that I featured the first book in the series, Morning Star, back in May, so it’s great to be able to do the sequel as well. The final installment will be out in early 2013.

Ethos, Equinox by Desiree Finkbeiner


Here’s a taste for you:


We hiked down through the trees towards the camp, trying to keep quiet. I counted a few Jeeps, a couple four wheelers, and a rugged camouflage military vehicle with a satellite receiver affixed to the roof. There were footprints in the dirt surrounding the extinguished camp fire, leading off in all directions as if they had been camped there for some time—maybe a few weeks.

“What are you doing up here?” We were startled by a strong male voice with what sounded like a thick African accent, coming from the trees. I spun around and looked up to see a large, dark-skinned man sitting in a deer stand—so dark that the white of his eyes looked like alabaster set into ebony, his irises nearly black. He had a closely shaven head, was armed with rifle, and had a radio slung over his shoulder. He wore camouflage and combat boots. “This trail is closed.”

I glanced at Kalen, who was eying the man down with a discerning glare. “If it’s closed, then why are you here?” he shot back with a challenge.

“I work with the forest department.” He spoke authoritatively. “You have no business being here.” He pointed towards the parking lot where the RV was parked. “Go back where you came from. There are other places to hike.”

“We’re not here to hike.” Kalen stood his ground. “We’re here to see Brach.”

The man lifted his rifle and aimed it at Kalen. “Who sent you?”


The man stood there for a moment, sizing us up, but kept his rifle aimed at Kalen. Without taking his eyes off of us, he reached for his radio and spoke in a foreign dialect. Though I wasn’t sure what language he was speaking or what country it came from, I understood every word. It was definitely an Earth language, something from Africa, but he didn’t realize I could understand him. “Brach, there are people down here at the camp looking for you. They claim Hunter sent them. What do you want me to do with them?”

“Who are they? What do they want?” A deep voice sounded from the radio.

“What is your business?” The man relayed in English.

“We will only speak with Brach,” Kalen demanded.

“You will tell me, or I will kill you.”

Kalen smiled, stepping in front of me. “Your bullets are no good on us. Take us to Brach; we have news for the Rise.”

He glared at us for a moment, then called back on the radio, in the foreign dialect. “It’s about the Rise. They insist on seeing you. Two female, one male. They do not appear to be armed. What are your orders?”

There was a long pause before a response finally came, “Shoot them.”


Okay, I’ve got shivers up my spine! I can vouch for how good the first book was so I can’t wait to read this one, especially with a snippet like that to whet my appetite.

Equinox will be released in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the first book yet, you can find Morning Star on Amazon in paperback or ebook.

About the author

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art– She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events.

She had a scholarship for acting in college though she was not a theatre major. Although she no longer performs or focuses on musical/performing arts, she has chosen to shift her talents to other areas that are more conducive to raising a family.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.



Filed under novel excerpt, reading

Author interview and novel excerpt: Chris Ward

Today I’m very happy to welcome Chris Ward, a native of Cornwall, England, who currently lives and works in Nagano, Japan. He is the author of 33 published short stories and the novels The Tube Riders and The Man Who Built the World. Chris has very kindly offered to answer a few questions for me and even given a preview of his novel, to whet the appetite of all who read it. So, let’s find out what the fuss is about!

Chris Ward

Tell me about the book. What inspired you to write it? What has the response been like?

I always had a rule in my writing never to write the same book twice.  While it looks like this is going to leave me poor and unknown forever, when I came to write Tube Riders I decided I wanted to write a big, epic sci-fi adventure because, while I had often written short stories in that genre, my novels had always been more mainstream.  I didn’t have much inspiration, so I looked through my short stories and came across one about a group of kids who hang from the side of trains for fun and get in trouble with a rival gang.  A couple of hours of brainstorming later I had expanded it into a sprawling dystopian novel.

The response … well, the handful of people who have read it have loved it.  I’ve had rave reviews, and I’ve even had fan mail.  However, so much stuff is being self-published that it’s been utterly buried under a slag heap of junk.  I’ve sold perhaps 40 copies.  I’m hoping it’ll be a slow burner and that by the time the second and third parts come out (tentatively summers of 2013 and 2014) it will be starting to catch on.  I guess time will tell.

How did you go about creating the dystopian landscape and atmosphere for The Tube Riders? Is it cautionary – it could happen if we take a couple of wrong steps along the way – or purely fictional?

Parts of it are very fictional, such as the scientific advances made by Mega Britain’s scientists.  I’ve very aware that it is impossible to cross a dog with a human due to the difference in number of chromosomes, but this is where it goes into Star Wars/X-Men territory and suspension of belief.  However, the world itself, with the perimeter walls, the restrictions on travel, the secret police, is very much based on real situations.  I live in Japan and am very influenced by the situation in North Korea.  We in the West can barely imagine living in a society where you fear for your life every moment of every day or are born into slavery because your grandparents dared to criticise the government, but there are hundreds of thousands of people currently in that situation.  Mega Britain is a kind of reflection of that and I tried to make it as realistic as possible.  That’s also why everything is in a state of disrepair – the Huntsmen don’t work properly, practically everyone is corrupt … I wanted readers to see beyond all the jumping on and off of moving trains to the dark underbelly of the world beneath, to understand what life is like in a failing society.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How long had you been writing before you began to take it seriously?

I was about eight years old the first time I remember writing anything.  Through my early teens I dreamed of being a young sensation, but I was eighteen before I finished a novel.  It wasn’t very good and has never been edited.  Nor has my second or third.  I started collecting rejections on my fourth novel, written when I was 22.  By that time it was my dream to be a famous writer, however I’ve always been someone who liked trying new things so I kept my options open.  That’s how I ended up living and working overseas.

Why did you decide to self publish? How has your experience been?

It was pretty much a last resort.  I’d been collecting agent/publisher rejection letters for fifteen years and always saw self-publishing as a vanity way out.  I was at the point where my writing was good enough to sell to professional magazines and it was this that gave me the confidence in my work to try self-publishing, and the belief that had I been born thirty years earlier I would probably have broken through.  I still feel strange about it, because for me it was always about walking into a bookshop and seeing my books on a shelf.  That might never happen now.

As for my experience, it’s been slow.  I don’t sell much.  One thing I’ve learned is that quality has very little to do with what sells and what doesn’t.  Luck, coupled with a marketing brain seems to be far more important.  I’ve read poorly written rubbish that’s selling hundreds of copies a week.  A lot of the bigger selling authors I come across are retired or don’t work, meaning they have the hours to put into all the boring stuff.  As someone who works full and part time I have time for the writing but not much else.  Plus, I enjoy the writing whereas spending an hour trawling through Twitter kills me.  I’d much rather write five pages of another book than bust my gut trying to get one person somewhere to click on my book link.

What advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there?

Write and publish, but don’t get all whiny when it doesn’t work out.  Quit complaining about not selling and getting bad reviews.  The only way to make sales is to work hard to get your book noticed, and the only way to get good reviews is to get better.  Even then, you’ll occasionally get canned.  One of the best books I’ve ever read, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, has something like 500 one-star reviews.  That book brought me to tears and the story broke my heart.  I thought it was a masterpiece, but clearly at least 500 people strongly disagreed.  Now, with self-publishing, you get people publishing five or six years before they can even write properly, then jumping up and down and having a fit if they get anything less than a four-star review.  It’s very childish.  Along the same lines, it’s really poor form to be jealous of someone else’s success.  Some of the arguing I see on author’s forums borders on playground behaviour.  These are supposed to be grown adults attempting to be professionals and they’re writing bad reviews of each others’ work, arguing, stalking, and basically acting like little kids fighting over who gets to go first on the slide.  Just don’t do it.  Switch off the internet, grow up, and use your time to write more, write better.


Excerpt from The Tube Riders:

As the others said their goodbyes and left, Marta stood for a moment, looking out across the park towards the huge elevated highway overpass that rose above the city to the south. Half finished, it arched up out of the terraces and housing blocks to the east, rising steadily to a height of five hundred feet. There, at the point where it should have begun its gradual decent to the west, it just ended, sawn off, amputated.

Years ago, she remembered her father standing here with her, telling her about the future. Things had been better then. She’d still been going to school, still believed the world was good, still had dreams about getting a good job like a lawyer or an architect and hadn’t started to do the deplorable things that made her wake up shivering, just to get food or the items she needed to survive.

He had taken her hand and given it a little squeeze. She still remembered the warmth of his skin, the strength and assurance in those fingers. With his other arm he had pointed up at the overpass, in those days busy with scaffolding, cranes and ant-like construction workers, and told her how one day they would take their car, and drive right up over it and out of the city. The government was going to open up London Greater Urban Area again, he said. Let the city people out, and the people from the Greater Forest Areas back in. The smoggy, grey skies of London GUA would clear, the sirens would stop wailing all night, and people would be able to take the chains and the deadlocks off their doors. She remembered how happy she’d felt with her father’s arms around her, holding her close, protecting her.

But something had happened. She didn’t know everything – no one did – but things had changed. The government hadn’t done any of those things. The construction stopped, the skies remained grey, and life got even worse. Riots waited around every street corner. People disappeared without warning amid tearful rumours that the Huntsmen were set to return.

Marta sighed, biting her lip. Her parents and her brother were gone. Marta was just twenty-one, but St. Cannerwells Park was the closest she would ever get to seeing the countryside, and the euphoria of tube riding was the closest she would ever get to happiness.

She gripped the fence with both hands and gritted her teeth, trying not to cry. She was tough. She had adjusted to Mega Britain’s harshness, was accustomed to looking after herself, but just sometimes, life became too much to bear.


Thanks Chris! If people are interested in reading more, you can find The Tube Riders (and Chris’ other works) at Amazon. Chris himself can be found on Twitter as @ChrisWardWriter, on Facebook, and (naturally) his own blog.


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Author interview and novel excerpt: A War Below, by Peyton Farquhar

Something a bit different today, in that I’m doing a hybrid guest author post – part interview, part novel excerpt. The reason for this is that the author, Peyton Farquhar, is not just plugging her newly-released books, but is also spruiking for charity as well. Peyton has decided that proceeds from her series will go to charity – indeed, a different charity for each of the three books released so far. I thought this was a fascinating approach for an author to be taking, so I asked her about her motivation for this, and of course about the books themselves.  The series follows Moses Jones, a slave whose attempted escape to freedom triggers events that force him into an underground world of espionage, revenge and murder. It is inspired by true stories from the Underground Railroad and its secret involvement behind the scenes of the American Civil War.

Tell me about the series. What inspired you to write it?

The series is about a slave, Moses Jones, who attempts to escape his evil owner, Simon Dred, just a month before the American Civil War begins. His escape triggers a series of events that force him into a dark world of revenge, espionage and murder. And while he fights to survive on the run, he’s forced to deal with his lack of faith and a secret love he’s always had for one of his fellow escaping slaves. The four books in the series track the four major stages of his reluctant transformation from slave to underground freedom fighter.

I initially wrote the story as an eight-episode mini-series screenplay over seven years ago and always wanted to see it evolve into something. So I went to work converting it into a fiction series about a year and a half ago. The story is inspired by actual events and sewn together with theory and fiction.

I wanted to show a different side to the Underground Railroad – not just scared slaves hiding from slave hunters. There were slaves that not only stood up and fought for their freedom, but some were also involved in secret operations during the Civil War. There was a secret organization of ex-slaves and free-born blacks that ran a clandestine war against the Confederates. I wanted to shine a light on those heroes.

The first three books in the series are now available in the Kindle Store, the iBookstore and the Nook Store. Visit my website for links:

What made you decide to donate the proceeds of your books to charity?

I was inspired by the real-life heroes that were the basis for the characters in the series. They risked their lives (and some died) to help others. That’s something many of us couldn’t begin to imagine doing. I thought it would be pretty cool to allow their acts to continue helping people nearly 150 years later.

How did you choose which charities to involve?

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has always been a charity I’ve supported. I was blessed with a healthy childhood, but some are not so lucky. The last place a child should be is lying in a hospital facing death, and St. Jude’s is doing amazing things to fight childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Their daily operating costs are $1.8 million, and that number is primarily covered by public contributions. So every dollar donated is important. (

Wounded Warrior Project is an amazing organization that helps injured military service members. These individuals fought and sacrificed for my freedom and the least I could do is help an organization that helps them transition back into their “new normal” life. WWP provides wounded veterans with everything from employment opportunities to combat stress recovery. (

Help-Portrait is a very unique movement, and that’s what I love about it. While St. Jude’s and WWP help those in need by way of “straight-forward” or “conventional” methods, Help-Portrait takes a different approach. They are a global collection of photographers that donate their time and talent to provide portraits to those in need. Every time I describe this charity to a friend, the reaction is always the same. The idea of giving a person in need a photo of themselves seems too simple and useless. But I urge you to visit their website and listen to some of the stories of those that benefitted from this movement. I’ve always appreciated people that take a different approach to things. Help-Portrait does just that, and I’m happy to support them.  (



A War Below series by Peyton Farquhar


Excerpt from the first book in the series (A War Below: Run)

Suddenly, a dark silhouette moved out of the shadows of the bunkhouse across the yard from Moses. He was startled by the shadowy figure quietly creeping toward him.

“Have you made your decision?”
It was Solomon Vesey.
“How did you find me?” Moses asked.
“The others told me you might be here,” Solomon replied. “So?”
“So, what?”
Solomon walked closer and sat down on the step next to Moses.
“I asked you a question. Have you made your decision?”
“I thought I told you earlier today. Did I not make myself clear?”
“Yeah, but I thought I’d give you some time to think about it. I have the count from the others. There are five going. That means we’ve got one more spot. What do you say?”
“I say piss off,” Moses replied.
Solomon stood up and took a few steps away from Moses. He paused and turned around.
“I’m not going to fill the spot,” Solomon told him. “If you change your mind, there will still be room.”
“I’m not going to change my mind. Leave me alone.”
Solomon stared at Moses through the darkness for a moment. He turned to walk away but stopped. He spun back around, walked over to Moses and sat down next to him once again.
“There was this one slave about four or five years ago. My partner and I were running the same scam on his plantation owner. Back then we were moving smaller numbers. We didn’t have the number of folks we do now, so it was harder to move big groups. We would only move about one or two slaves at a time. So it was important to pick the right ones. It always took some time for me to weed out the ones that deserved to go. I would only pick the leaders, the smart ones, the strong ones – the ones that would be more likely to make something of themselves once we got them North. We thought that maybe they would join the cause and help others get to freedom. As I was saying, there was this one slave…what was his name? Doesn’t matter. Anyway, he was smart…smarter than you, Moses. No matter how much I tried to talk him into it, he wouldn’t run either. I guaranteed his safety, but he still wouldn’t do it. When I asked him why, he told me he was afraid. When I asked him what he was afraid of, he just shook his head and walked off. And then I figured it out. He wasn’t afraid of being hurt or killed. He was afraid of being nothing. All of his life, he had been the smart one. He had been the one that every slave looked up to. He was the king of slaves on that plantation, and he thought that if he left that plantation and went out into the real world, he would be nothing. He knew that nobody would ever respect him the way that those other slaves respected him. That’s why he didn’t escape. He was afraid of being nothing.”
Solomon stood up.
“But there was something he didn’t realize, Moses,” Solomon added. “When you’re a slave, you’re already nothing. You’re just plain property. You see, getting free is like getting born. In one push, you become your own person. Regardless of how much respect you get from others, you’re finally your own person. And when you have that, there are only two things that lie in front of you…life and possibility. And those are two beautiful things.”
Moses looked back up at the stars.
“We are meeting inside the barn at the north end of the plantation at midnight tomorrow night,” Solomon said. “I’ll leave the spot open for you. Come if you want.”
Solomon turned and walked away. The night swallowed him up.


Peyton Farquhar is from Nashville, Tennessee, USA.  The first installment of A War BelowRun (currently available from iTunesAmazon andBarnes & Noble) was released in February 2012. Hunt and Run followed later in the year.  Peyton has written a guest post for this blog before, which can be found here. You can follow Peyton on twitter @peytonfarquhar, and you can find out more about the series at


Filed under author interview, novel excerpt

Book excerpt: From Dunes to Dior, by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

From Dunes to Dior, by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Today we have an excerpt from a memoir by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, about her time as a South Asian American woman living in Qatar. Mohanalakshmi is a writer, scholar and mother who has written a number of successful books about her life and experiences and, as you’ll see from this excerpt, does that exceptionally well. If your appetite is not whetted simply by that, you can check out the trailer for the book here. Take it away, Mohanalakshmi!



“That’s really long.”

This, the standard response to seeing the enormity of my name in print, was universal and startlingly unoriginal, whether from the checkout counter clerk or the substitute teacher. Really, I always wanted to reply, I find yours short and insipid.

My maiden name, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, always ensured I stood out while growing up in predominately white suburban neighborhoods across the United States, announcing I was different even before I materialized in the body, with brown skin, black hair and dark eyes confirming me as child of immigrant Indian parents rather than hippies turned yuppies. Many of the years during middle school and high school were spent in a small city in North Florida where I was rare, strange, special, and unique. This was the 1980s, a decade before Americans were aware it was chic to be interested in cultures besides their own.

I mistakenly thought of going to college in North Carolina, as a cultural relocation to the north. A few weeks into the semester, I was like a fly in a glass of milk and most people had about as much interest in my Indianess as they did in the northern practice of calling Coke“pop.” Yet even here, there remains a gap between my name and who I really am — sort of like the vast gap between the substance of grey matter in our craniums and the miraculous marvels of
modern history lurking within that dark tissue.

From rare, exotic, different, I have become an anomaly: the monkey that, given enough time, and left alone with a typewriter, produced the works of the great Shakespeare — in other words a dubious, purported genius among my species.

Here in the middle, between Europe and Asia, my name advertises that I come from India, a country that supplies roughly 50% of the migrant workers in the Arabian Gulf.

The number one export in the Indian state of Kerala, the one that neighbors mine, is the young Keralite male, aged 25-45, capable of fulfilling any number of the low skilled jobs the affluent societies of the Gulf have not performed for themselves in decades. The sub-continentals — Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans — are the drivers, maids, cooks, nannies and construction workers.

Yet, every day I go to work in this intensely class and racially conscious society to an office, sit behind a desk, wear a suit, and type at a computer. The Indian woman striding in high heels, the non-white foreigner who isn’t cowed with her head down, body enveloped in a fading house dress, waiting for madam to decide on a purchase so she can take the shopping bags.

Perhaps the most comical reactions to my name began when I moved from the expatriate heavy Education City to the national university, Qatar University. It was during my three years there that I discovered Mohana sounded very much like Muhanna, a very common and popular man’s name in the GCC.

“You are Doctor Muhanna?” was the common refrain when I showed up for meetings, in the aforementioned suit and heels, usually the only woman in a room full of men in traditional thobe. “I am,” I learned to say with a rueful smile.

The most dramatic reactions were when I was pregnant and working, up until the eighth month of my pregnancy. During this time I wore the traditional abaya of women of the GCC as a way to minimize my morning routine and also draw attention away from my dual purpose as an incubator of life and professional woman. The female body in Qatar is like the attitude many people have toward young children, only here the sentiment seems to be breasts, hips, and legs are better if unseen or heard. As senior manager of a growing start up, I must tell you that modest maternity wear was always the furthest thing from my mind. So I developed a collection of abayas, five in total by the day of delivery, which I wore for nearly six months. The reactions to the sight of a pregnant woman, wearing an abaya, clearly not Qatari, and showing up for a meeting scheduled for Dr. Muhanna, were probably some of the funniest moments of my life.

“I didn’t want to tell you this,” Rima, my very first Arabic tutor, said sighing, “but your name does not have a good meaning.”

“MoHUnA,” she said pulling at the edges of her headscarf and lining up the sides of laminated note cards, “means dejected or one who is disappointed.” She waited a moment before looking up at me, the curved rims of her eyeglass lenses framing soft brown eyes.

“My name is Mohanalakshmi,” I responded, “and it means beautiful goddess of wealth.”

But the Bagavagita is not part of “the Book,” nor Hindus people of “the Book,” like Muslim, Christians, or even that vilified enemy, the Jews. And this is perhaps why it was news to my tutor that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in Hindu tradition, could never have been anything other than parental blessing upon a child.

Those people of that polytheistic religion, monotheistic Muslims might say, if they stop a moment to think about their servants, who comprise an invisible class of workers. These men and women are trapped somewhere between adulthood and adolescence because they are forever regarded as “girls” and “boys.” Unlike me, with my western education, they are drivers, messengers, tea bringers, and carriers of shopping bags, never to be more, often treated as less.

All my life I have been a counter culture character, running counter to the main story, without ever intentionally trying. And here, only three hours by plane from my birthplace, I find that I’m more unique than ever.

“She keeps good company,” my college professor said the night before my wedding to assembled friends and family. “Of one name women the world over: Elizabeth, Madonna, Mohana.”


Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was good in many ways since that is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to her full time gig. She has published three e-books this year including Mommy But Still Me, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, and Coloured and Other Stories.  Since she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines.

Her work has also been published in AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

From Dunes to Dior is available as a ebook from, and more information can be found at or by following Mohanalakshmi on Twitter at @moha_doha. If you are interested in reviewing the book, please contact the author at Mohanalakshmi[at]hotmail[dot]com.


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Novel excerpt: Morning Star (Ethos), by Desiree Finkbeiner

Ethos: Morning Star, by Desiree Finkbeiner

Today I’m privileged to host an excerpt from Morning Star, first novel in the Ethos series by Desiree Finkbeiner. It was released on March 28 and already has 70 reviews on Amazon, 68 of which are five stars.

Here’s a taste of this very highly rated book:

Life goes on as it normally does… work, school, recreation, taxes… and for the ignorant, life is bliss. But when a mysterious stranger enters Brianna’s mundane routine, her eyes are opened to the dark underbelly of reality. She’s thrust into a race for her life when Kalen, a warrior from Ethos, discovers that she is harboring a secret… a secret that he’d give his life to protect.

There’s just one little problem… they are tempted by a forbidden romance, which threatens to compromise a divinely appointed mission. They are faced with a choice… love eternal, or the end of the world…

Sound intriguing? Well, the news gets better. Up till midnight US time, the book is FREE on Actually, there are ten books that Hydra Publications are offering free till midnight, so if you get in quick you can load up your kindle with some great titles for absolutely nothing. So what are you waiting for?

The books can be found here:
Morning Star (Ethos) by Desiree Finkbeiner
Andraste by Marisa Mills
Bridgeworld by Travis McBee
Gnosis  by Tom Wallace
Heart of the Hunter  by Linda Anne Wulf
Secret  by Morinda Montgomery
The Heart Denied  by Linda Anne Wulf
The Universal Mirror by Gwen Perkins
Ukishima by Nigel Sellars

About the author:

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art– She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events.

Desiree Finkbeiner

She had a scholarship for acting in college though she was not a theater major. Although she no longer performs or focuses on musical/performing arts, she has chosen to shift her talents to other areas that are more conducive to raising a family.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.


Thanks, Desiree! It looks like an awesome book and I can’t wait to read it. I hope that everyone who sees this post makes the most of the free offer at Amazon while it lasts – get in quickly!


Filed under novel excerpt, reading

99 Reasons Why – the ending (or, well, one of them)

99 Reasons Why cover

99 Reasons Why, by Caroline Smailes

You may or may not be aware of the recently released book 99 Reasons Why, by Caroline Smailes. It came out on Monday and has eleven possible endings, depending on how you want to read it.  Nine of these endings are available in the ebook (available from Amazon and itunes): the Kindle version has a series of questions you answer that determine which ending is best for you, whereas the iPad version has a spinning wheel to work out which one to use. Ending #10 has been handwritten by Caroline, and will be auctioned off for charity, while ending #11 has been made available to the blogosphere where people like me can share it with the world.

I hope you find this possible ending interesting enough to want to read the whole book. I certainly did!


99: the reason why I was only worth ninety-nine quid

It’s been six days since the little girl in the pink coat went missing and me Uncle Phil’s in me bedroom.

We’ve been watching the little girl in the pink coat’s mam on the news. She was appealing to the public for witnesses.

‘Didn’t realise she had a mam,’ I says, looking at me telly.

‘Everyone’s got a mam, pet,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘She sold her story to The Sun,’ I says, looking at me telly.

‘Got a few quid,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘She wanted nowt to do with that bairn before all this,’ me Uncle Phil says, looking at me telly.

‘Do you know where she is?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘Belle?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.

I nod.

‘She’s safe,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘Your mam’s keeping an eye on her.’

‘Can I be her mam?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘No, pet, you’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘Can you make Andy Douglas come back, Uncle Phil?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

Me Uncle Phil shakes his head.

‘I love him,’ I tell me Uncle Phil.

‘Andy Douglas is your brother, pet. You didn’t seriously think Princess Di was your mam, did you?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.

I nod.

‘You’re a cradle snatcher just like your mam,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘Your mam miscarried when she found out I’d been banging Betty Douglas. Betty was expecting you,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I don’t speak.

‘When you was born, your mam went mad and I ended up buying you from Betty Douglas for ninety-nine quid,’ me Uncle Phil says.

‘Ninety-nine quid?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘I paid a hundred but got a quid change for some chips for your mam and dad’s tea,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘You bought me?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

I’m a little bit sick in me mouth.

‘It was the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘I got Betty Douglas pregnant straight away with Andy.’

‘I’m pregnant,’ I says to me Uncle Phil. ‘I’m pregnant with me brother’s baby,’ I says, and then I throws up on me purple carpet.

‘You’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘What am I going to do?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘You’re going to have the baby,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘Have me brother’s baby?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘Then I’m giving it to Betty Douglas to bring up,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘You what?’ I says to me Uncle Phil.

‘It’s the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘I can’t—’ I says to me Uncle Phil.

‘It’s either that or I’ll make you disappear,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I don’t speak.

I’m thinking, they’re all a bunch of nutters.

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