Reflections on a Week Past

I missed my Wednesday Wander this week. It wasn’t because I’d run out of places, though – I’ve quite a few locations still to share, and more to visit, so will keep the series going as long as I can. No, it was for a couple of other reasons – one, I was part of a blog tour for a new book, The Finding Of Martha Lost, and my slot was Wednesday. The other was that it’s been a strange sort of week. Understatement, I guess. The tragic incident in Manchester affected me (as it affected a lot of people worldwide), and, once I’d posted about it, I just felt like hanging with family, especially my gorgeous girl, so blogging got put on the back burner for a few days.

I’ve done some walking, too, along my favourite canal route and past the river, taking photos of green calm and reflection. The swans I saw nesting the other week now have cygnets, three little balls of grey fluff following their parents across the water.

I did do some writing this week though, managing to sort out a few plot tangles in Silver and Black, my vampire novel. I know, right? I never thought I’d write a vampire novel, but a writing prompt almost two years ago via Ali Isaac brought me the character of Emelia Raven, and her story was too insistent to ignore. So, I’m pretty close to a finished first draft, which I’ll put away for a couple of months before coming back to, as I find that’s the best way to see what changes need to be made for draft two.

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here as well, meaning Monday is a day off work and school (plus it’s the start of half-term). There’s work to do around the house, plus a bit of family fun, so I have fingers crossed the lovely sunshine we’ve had this past week sticks around.

Wishing you all a peaceful and happy weekend. Back to writing and wandering next week xx

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Take A Tour Of Desertera with Guest Author Kate M. Colby

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Today I welcome guest author Kate M. Colby to the blog. Kate recently published her first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, a steampunk dystopian story set in the fictional world of Desertera. Today she takes us on a tour of the world she’s created…

The world of my novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, is Desertera. I call it a post-apocalyptic, steampunk dystopian wasteland—which is a mouthful…and not exactly that helpful to those who aren’t familiar with these genres. So, today, I want to give you all a little tour of Desertera and teach you more about this world that I’ve cooked up. But first, we have to start with a brief history lesson.

Roughly two hundred years prior to the start of my novel, the world of my characters looked very similar to our world from two centuries ago. They had an organized government (monarchy), cities with electricity, vehicles, and advanced technology (though steam-powered), and oceans and rivers and all the other standard geological features we have. Essentially, it was a world much like ours, just with steam as the primary power source. Fans of the steampunk genre can probably envision it rather
easily—I picture “the world before” much like a traditional steampunk universe.

However, the world before ended. A flood of apocalyptic proportions (think Noah’s Ark) wiped out the world and most of its inhabitants. The ancestors of my characters survived by building a steamship (the Queen Hildegard) to carry them through the flood. After years of rain, the waters eventually dried up, and they were left in a desert wasteland. Without an excess of water, they are unable to power their steam technology, and thus, we have a world of “steampunk without steam.” What remains is the steamship and four villages that have emerged around it. This is the Desertera we
see in The Cogsmith’s Daughter.

The Queen Hildegard, or the palace:

This is the steamship that carried the ancestors through the flood. It is named for the mortal queen who ruled during the flood, and it is the center of noble life in Desertera. The royal family and the higher nobles live within the palace, but it also holds libraries, specialty shops, a greenhouse, the courtroom, and the ballroom. Most of the “steerage” section of the palace has been gutted—the materials used for building houses and other objects—but one area, the Rudder, remains occupied.

The Rudder:

The Rudder is the brothel of Desertera. It is located in the back of the ship, with an entrance near the propellers (hence the name). While the citizens of Desertera know the Rudder’s location and what occurs there, most turn a blind eye to the activities unless forced to admit them. The Rudder is run by Madam Huxley, the longest-standing female business owner in Desertera, and is where the novel’s protagonist, Aya, currently works.


Starboardshire is a village to the east of the palace and is home to the lesser nobles and their servants. The most beautiful of the villages, it contains artisan-crafted homes, desert wildflowers, and even a bit of grass for horses (a major status symbol for noble families).


Bowtown lies to the north of the palace and holds the agricultural district. It’s inhabited by farmers, who manage to grow basic crops like wheat and corn. The farmers also have livestock—the descendants of the animals taken aboard the steamship—mainly pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep.


Portside is the economic hub of Desertera, situated to the west of the palace. It is home to merchants and local businesses—everything from bakers to cobblers to blacksmiths. Aya, grew up in Portside, as her father used to have a shop in the village. However, when he was executed, she could no longer pay the rent and had to turn to other means to support herself.


Sternville, to the south of the palace, is the most impoverished village and is where Aya currently lives. The homes are little more than tents or dirt-floored hovels, and its residents either work at the Rudder or as wellmen. The wellmen are responsible for going to the wells each morning and pumping water for the villagers to use. An important job, it is also dirty, dangerous, and viewed as “unskilled” labor, hence
its low status in the society.

The palace and its four villages make for a complex and starkly divided society. There is tension between the five locales, the four villages especially, and most people tend to stick to their “own kind.” In The Cogsmith’s Daughter, Aya spends most of her time in Sternville, the Rudder, and the palace. Despite her connections to each place, she doesn’t feel like she belongs in any of them. This helps her to see the good and bad aspects of each, as well as allows her to challenge the status quo and make others
question what they have always accepted about their homes. I think world travelers, or even just sociology/culture geeks like me, will really enjoy watching Aya dissect her surroundings.

If you think you’d like to take a trip to Desertera, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies HERE.

Don’t like leaving things to chance? Me either. You can purchase your copy of                     The Cogsmith’s Daughter at any of these online retailers:

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.

Barnes & Noble



The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small

Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned
goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.


Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.


When Aya Cogsmith was a young girl, King Archon had her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.

Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.

Kate Colby Photo

Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website:

Guest Post – Geoff LePard – Tracing Your Ancestry

This week I’m starting with a guest post from pink-bearded lawyer, blogger and author extraordinaire, Geoff LePard. I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff at the Blogger’s Bash in August (when his beard was pink and he went by the name ‘Geoffle’ for the day – I’m sure he was thrilled when I told him that ‘jaffle’ was an Australian slang term for a toasted cheese sandwich!). Geoff has written two books – the first called Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, and the second and new release called My Father and Other Liars. Journey To Ambeth is the last stop on his blog tour, and he’s written an interesting piece about our desire to explore our ancestral DNA, a key theme in his latest book. Take it away, Geoff!


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When I began writing My Father and Other Liars I decided to set up my own Church, the Church of Science and Development. As I explained over at Hugh’s Views and News, I needed to write a philosophy for this Church. At about this time, I had been reading an American Crime Writer, Tess Gerritsen. In one book, I forget which, she referenced the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, a Biblical story that recalled days in Sunday School. This is a brief summary of the Ten Lost Tribes:

10 of the original 12 Hebrew tribes, which, under the leadership of Joshua took possession of Canaan the Promised Land, after the death of Moses. In 930 BC the 10 tribes formed the independent Kingdom of Israel in the north and the 2 other tribes, Judah and Benjamin, set up the Kingdom of Judah in the south. Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the 10 tribes were gradually assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared from history.

I had already decided on one theme, namely how the Church leader, Isaac Beaumont was obsessed by his ancestry so I took this story and wove it into the backstory of the Church. This extract is from the Testaments of Truths, the philosophical background to the Church as written by Isaac’s father, Joseph and updated by Isaac (you can find more of the Testaments at the back of MFOL).

“The Bible tells us of 12 children of Jacob, himself a direct descendant of Adam.
Those children formed 12 tribes of which ten were lost. Anthropologists tell us the
original human migration was from Africa and there is evidence of this dispersal
elsewhere in Africa, in China and Asia. But those tribes and their eventual homes
remain a mystery. It is my view that the Diaspora was God’s Plan all along, to spread
Man’s strengths, to let Man develop and then bring the tribes back together to create
stronger, healthier societies and strengthen the species to achieve God’s Highest
Purpose. This was God’s Plan for Man: to improve humanity. But it was a slow and
difficult path. Pollution and corruption are necessary consequences of close
proximity breeding so spreading out, growing stronger then re-mingling and
spreading again was one. The powers he gave us, the instinct to push, to look for
new pastures, to improve… they were all part of His Plan. We are to use every skill to get stronger, fitter and cleverer so we can survive longer.”

Isaac is determined to prove his father right. His mission to Nicaragua as a young man (which is central to the conundrum at the heart of the book) came about because Isaac wanted to study the dispersion of the Amerindian groups and show the links back to the original Jewish Diapsora. His (blinkered) enthusiasm to fund a genetics’ research facility at the Beaumont University is the result. What happens because of Isaac’s one eyed devotion to this idea is at the core of the story and the drama that unfolds.

While researching for this book I found that there are any number of people who are
convinced they have found and can trace those linkages back to those Ten Lost Tribes.

“In 2010, the Guardian reported that Israel was to fund a genetic study to test the veracity of a genetic link to the lost tribes of Israel. The article stated “Historical and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a connection, but definitive scientific proof has never been found. Some leading Israeli anthropologists believe that, of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes, the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case.”

We are fascinated by finding out about our ancestry – the TV is full of programmes tracing someone’s family tree. Increasingly we are turning to DNA coding and genetic testing to show the links. We are becoming familiar with a strange language: Haplogroups – Y Chromosome DNA and mitochondrial DNA – used to determine genetic populations. Isaac is, in his own way, no different for many wanting to trace where they came from, the better to understand who they are today. And in so doing he, as do others, expose some of the lies we are told by our forebears or which we have misdirected ourselves into believing.

Lies. They are at the root of everything, especially a good book.


Geoff L Cover image

My Father and Other Liars is the second book by Geoff Le Pard. Published in August it is available as an ebook and paperback here:

His first book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle can be found here:


Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.