Friday, December 13, 2013

Cover reveal: The Sacred Lake, Book 4 in the Shioni of Sheba series

The Sacred Lake
Book 4 Cover: The Sacred Lake


Shioni of Sheba: The Sacred Lake is coming soon, the fourth volume in the Shioni of Sheba series. Prepare to be swept away into the unique historical and cultural setting of ancient Sheba in 2nd-century Ethiopia. Illustrated by the Ethiopian artist Senait Worku.

In this latest, blockbuster adventure in the acclaimed Shioni of Sheba series, a journey to Gondar and the Sacred Lake in search of medicine for the stricken King of West Sheba turns into high adventure for Shioni and Princess Annakiya. Stampeding elephants, treacherous kings, a den of lions and the great secrets of the island of Tana Qirqos await! Can Shioni defeat the wiles of the King of Gondar, secure the medicine, and win her freedom?

Coming just as soon as I finish the editing - I'm aiming for Christmas! Thank you for your interest in the Shioni of Sheba series and I hope you enjoy this book very much!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Islesong Book 1: The Girl who Sang with Whales - Print Edition Released

**Update** The Print edition is now released for your enjoyment.

I'm delighted to announce the release of the first volume in the IsleSong series, The Girl who Sang with Whales. Richly imagined and evocative, this is a story for anyone who loves the ocean and its whales, salt water in their hair, and the gentle rasp of beach sand between their bare toes. This story will transport you to a beautiful, unspoiled ocean world where people have to rely on Whales to travel between the islands. A world where danger can, and does, lurk beneath any wave

Purchase now: Kindle versions on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and multiple formats on Smashwords .

Imagine an island world where the seas seethe with dangerous creatures, where those rare men and women called Bard-Navigators have learned to sing Whales to protect their ships. Only on the wings of Bardsong can ships avoid the Sea-Dragons and travel the great gulf between the Atolls scattered across the World-Sea.

I sang to the Sea; She sang back to me,
Tales and travails wreathed in mystery.

Zhialeiana has an astonishing gift of song. She can sing the unique songs of the mighty and magical creatures of the World-Sea. She can touch their souls. When her gift is discovered at her mother's funeral, the current of her life begins to sweep her to a future that she could never have imagined. She must navigate both opportunity and danger, and lay her life on the line for the Whales she loves. But Zhialeiana also has a toxic secret - a secret that will force her to undertake a journey beyond faith, beyond all hope, and beyond the World-Sea.

The cover art is by Corinna Spiekermann.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What is it with the slavery?

Recently a reviewer pointed out that both my Islesong and Shioni of Sheba series deal in with the issue of child slavery. What's the deal? Shioni is a slave to the Princess of West Sheba and wears a collar stamped with the Lion of Sheba. Zhialeiana, the main character of IsleSong, is sold to the Harbourmaster of Germioi Central Atoll to work off the price of her contract.

That comment set me thinking. Why do I write about this particular issue? Well, simply put, it is because this is a reality I see every day as I live and work in Ethiopia, and it is a reality around the world. For example, Compassion.com notes that 1 in 6 children in developing countries (5 to 14 years old) is involved in child labour. Around the world, 126 million children work in hazardous and demeaning conditions. That is more than the entire population of Ethiopia. The figures for child poverty are far more staggering - 21,000 children under 5 die every day. And this is apparently not newsworthy.

So next time I stop at the street corner and have my shoes shined by an eager boy, and hand over my couple of Ethiopian Birr that will buy him bread, I'll think about who he is, why he's out there, and what I can do to make even just just a small difference every day.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Coming soon: The Girl who Sang with Whales

I am excited to announce that my new book The Girl who Sang with Whales, book #1 in the IsleSong series, will be published soon. I'm targeting October 2013 for release.

Imagine an island world where the seas seethe with dangerous creatures, where those rare men and women called Bard-Navigators have learned to sing Whales to protect their ships. Only on the wings of Bardsong can ships avoid the Sea-Dragons and travel the great gulf between the Atolls scattered across the World-Sea.

I sang to the Sea; She sang back to me,
Tales and travails wreathed in mystery.

Zhialeiana has an astonishing gift of song. She can sing the unique songs of the mighty and magical creatures of the World-Sea. She can touch their souls. When her gift is discovered at her mother's funeral, the current of her life begins to sweep her to a future that she could never have imagined. She must navigate both opportunity and danger, and lay her life on the line for the Whales she loves. But Zhialeiana also has a toxic secret - a secret that will force her to undertake a journey beyond faith, beyond all hope, and beyond the World-Sea.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Does Amazon CreateSpace pay all its royalties?

Recently there's been some discussion about Amazon not paying all the royalties authors are entitled to. Here I am talking about print copies which have been published via CreateSpace. So I decided to try them out.

Yesterday a friend placed an order for 3 print copies of the first book in my Shioni of Sheba series, The Enchanted Castle, on Amazon.co.uk. The order showed up on my royalty report within 24 hours. Now that's decent service, well done, Amazon!

However Amazon.com has been less impressive. I helped a friend place an order for 1 print copy of each of my books on September 5th (you'd think that should be easy to track...). The order was delivered on the 14th, and as of today the 19th, nothing. I've contacted CreateSpace customer service with the order details to see what they say. More on this when I hear from them!

If this happens to me, and I am relatively small fry in the world of book sales at present, then I wonder what other authors are missing out on. And surely Amazon is legally liable to pay out royalties due to authors? I wonder what the scale of these 'glitches' are, which are surely helping Amazon's profitability?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shioni of Sheba: Upcoming plans for books 4, 5 a 6

I am currently planning the next 3 novels in the Shioni of Sheba series:

The Sacred Lake
The Fiuri Realms
The Black-Maned Lion

Let me know what you think. How would you like the series to proceed? I'd love to hear from you!

In The Sacred Lake Shioni is part of an expedition to Lake Tana where she must find a cure for the King of West Sheba. But first the Shebans must pass through the ancient city of Gondar and win the favour of its ruler, the Priest-King Tewodros. But peril awaits - can the King of Gondar be trusted?

The Fiuri Realms takes Shioni to a place she had never imagined, home of the Fiuri Azurelle, to discover (maybe...) the source of her power. Azurelle wants to win back her power from the treacherous Tazaka and so return home. But Kalcha has other plans, plans that do not include a happy ending for anyone who has dared to cross her.

And in The Black-Maned Lion Shioni must explore the secret world of the lions of the Simien Mountains. When the Sheban warriors dare to kill a lion, one of Anbessa's own, they incur the wrath of the Lord of the Mountains. Can Shioni win back his trust? Or have the Shebans brought their own doom upon themselves?

Enchanted Castle giveaway

I am giving away two copies of Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle on Goodreads. Sign up for your chance to win!



Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Enchanted Castle by Marc Secchia

The Enchanted Castle

by Marc Secchia


Giveaway ends September 30, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Announcing publication of The Mad Giant - Update

I am delighted to announce the publication of Shioni of Sheba: The Mad Giant, the third book in my Shioni of Sheba African fantasy adventure series for secondary age readers and fantasy lovers. If you enjoy unique settings, unforgettable characters, and the grit of African dirt between your toes - this book is for you!

A theft and a race against time through the ancient garnet mines. A bargain with the Mad Giant. Captain Dabir's revenge. A battle royal at the bridge over the Mesheha river. Join Shioni of Sheba in her most hair-raising adventure yet!

The Mad Giant is available on Amazon.com, Amazon UK and other Amazon stores for Kindle e-reader and now in print.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Political correctness in a world of differences

This month I had the opportunity to travel through Southern Ethiopia, through an unspoiled, beautiful rainforest territory in the old Ilubabor province . This area is recognised as a UNESCO biosphere, an area of outstanding natural beauty and environmental importance. One of the main exports is wild coffee which is grown right in the forest as pictured below (the coffee bushes are the lower foliage in the picture and you can see the unripe berries clustered on the bushes):


We travelled from Addis Ababa through Jimma to Metu and then turned south on the Tepi road to stop near Masha to visit with a people group called the Shekkacho, over 200,000 people who live in this rainforest and practice traditional methods of conservation. I met this delightful gentleman called Dambaally who apparently killed two lions in his youth. He's pictured standing alongside a traditional Shekka hut. Just in front of him is the well from which water can be drawn by hand.



Near an area called Tepi the views are simply forest and range upon range of mountains as far as the eye can see:


I wonder what you picture when you think of Ethiopia? Do you picture the scenery above, or do you picture poverty, disease and need? One thing such a trip reminded me of is how different a culture and background I come from, and in many ways, how privileged I am for example in terms of resources and education  - even though I also come from Africa. And that started me thinking about differences.

In South Africa, where I grew up, differences were institutionalized and enshrined in law under a system called apartheid, the policy of separating different racial and ethnic groups - supposedly to help preserve or keep pure their language and culture, amongst many other economic and political reasons. One learned to see not in terms of similarities or common humanity, but in polarised terms such as black/white, empowered/disempowered, first class/third class (different carriages on trains, first class being for 'whites' and third for 'blacks'). Words followed, a language of differentiation - for example, a common word for a black person in South Africa was 'kaffir', which carries the same connotations as 'nigger' for Black Americans, except that in South Africa the word is only ever negative whereas in America the n-word has been appropriated into common slang in some communities.

Much has changed for the good in South Africa, and there is much to be thankful for. I can now take a train with anyone I like, thank you very much.

But I wonder how one un-learns to see differences? Are differences necessarily bad? Do we need to use a language of political correctness to avoid giving or receiving offence? Are differences to be celebrated or swept under the carpet? Did you watch the Paralympics in the same way that you watched the Olympics? With the same thoughts going through your mind?

And of course, children see differences as much as anyone else and they will stare and ask questions, and they will learn from our responses how to treat difference. In a hotel we stayed in one of the staff was a midget - at least, until my children started asking questions and I got to thinking and questioning my responses, that is the word I would have used. The correct word is 'little people'. The m-word carries connotations of circus freak-shows and can be deeply offensive, I have learned. The m-word is to be avoided. So I struck it out above.

The questions followed, "Why's he so small, daddy?" "I'm taller than that man, aren't I?" "Can he do everything a normal person can do?" "He's funny, isn't he?" Can anyone help me come up with some easy parental answers to these questions? That are neither judgmental, nor politically incorrect, nor point out differences in a negative way? He might have a great sense of humour and be a very funny man, how would I know? I felt compelled by their questions to build him up, to say he can do anything I can, to underline his worth as a human being as best I could - and yet there is difference and that is simply the way it is. And after that, I started to wonder what the 'right' response is. Was my motive in answering the way I did born in some kind of pity? Should I not have noticed he was a little person? In meeting poverty, is a 'right' response to perceived suffering, the same response that might rob a person of their dignity and self-worth? How is our 'help' seen? Condescending or compassionate?

I believe it comes down to seeing the worth in a person - in taking the time to really get to know them before we presume to judge or understand or meet their 'needs'. Simply in telling our stories we might learn from each other. I would never have guessed I was speaking to a lion-slayer when I met that elderly gentleman in the picture above. How many lion-slayers have you walked past without knowing it?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Simien Mountains Wildlife Exhibition

This weekend I will be at the First Ethiopian Wildlife Exhibition just off Meskel Square for a book signing. The Enchanted Castle and The King's Horse will be on sale in both electronic and paper versions. There will be fun and games for all the family. Come and  support this worthy event.

Times:  Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June 10 am to 5:30 pm
Venue: Addis Ababa Exhibition Centre off Meskel Square

Friday, June 21, 2013

Congratulations to the Goodreads winners!

I would like to congratulate the winners of the Goodreads giveaway for Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle. I am looking forward to making the Addis Ababa post office a tad busier on Monday morning.

And to the 1195 good people who entered and did not win - thank you for participating! Lots of copies going begging here, both paperback and electronic, why don't you treat yourself to a breath of ancient Africa?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Goodreads giveaway ends June 19th! Don't miss out!

Don't forget to sign up for the Enchanted Castle giveaway on Goodreads! Ends June 19th - over 400 people have already entered for a chance to win one of 5 author-signed copies.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Goodreads giveaway! Sign up to win one of 5 author-signed copies on Goodreads.com!



Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Enchanted Castle by Marc Secchia

The Enchanted Castle

by Marc Secchia


Giveaway ends June 19, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Enchanted Castle now available in paperback

The first Shioni of Sheba book, the Enchanted Castle, is now available in paperback on Amazon in the UK Amazon.co.uk and in the US at Amazon.com.

You can also purchase directly through Createspace. Thank you for supporting good causes in Ethiopia!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Editing like mad... Shioni of Sheba: The Mad Giant

I've been working like mad on The Mad Giant (part 3 of Shioni of Sheba) over the last few weeks - editing, re-editing, correcting, trimming... I feel it's coming on well. Here's a little taste of what to expect in Shioni's most exciting adventure yet...

There's a great battle“WASABI DOGS!” Talaku’s challenge thundered out over the din of battle, at a volume no ordinary man could have matched. “You whelp of scabby hyenas, born in a rubbish pit; you filth; you pus-licking worm-ridden sons of a camel’s lice!”

More magic and intrigue: The courtyard was deserted, silent; shadowed by the baobab’s leaves which gleamed silvery-grey in the moonlight. She could almost hear the castle breathing. Shioni shivered. Was the whole place steeped in magic? Or was this inkling merely her imagination, magnified by the lateness of the hour?

A flying elephant and a flying horseA peculiar thing happened just then, as she held that image of the flying horse lightly in the forefront of her mind. Her ears, attuned to the rhythmic drumming of Thunder’s hooves over earth, rock and water, suddenly told her they were hearing nothing of the sort.

And of course, the mad biter gets a piece of the action (literally): Flattening his ears and snorting like a furious warthog, Thunder surged forward and sank his teeth with the greatest relish right into the seat of Captain Dabir’s trousers.

Join Shioni and her friends in their most hair-raising adventure yet, in Shioni of Sheba: The Mad Giant. Coming soon! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Announcing Shioni of Sheba Book 2: The King's Horse

I am delighted to announce the release of the second volume in the Shioni of Sheba series called The King's Horse. Currently available here on special at Smashwords until April 9th by entering the coupon code DD33R during checkout for half price.

Available for Kindle on Amazon US, UK and all other Amazon stores.

The King lies in a coma. Princess Annakiya must rule the castle in his stead. But Kalcha, witch-leader of the Wasabi, is far from defeated. Through scorpions and arrows, assassins and living nightmares, she seeks to destroy the Kingdom of Sheba. She will have her revenge.

When General Getu orders Shioni into the Simien Mountains to track down the runaway King's Horse, she must grapple with treachery and peril amongst the wild volcanic peaks. Can she trust her companions: the troubled giant Talaku, and the ambitious, two-faced warrior Tariku? What of the rebels who would sell them to the Wasabi? Could mountain legends and the mysterious stele hint at the hidden presence of dragons?

In this exciting new adventure, Shioni of Sheba must draw on all of her courage and ingenuity to thwart Kalcha's wicked plans, and return her companions and the King's Horse safely to the castle. But even the Sheban stronghold is far from safe...


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Smashwords promotion

Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle will be on promotion over at Smashwords this week. Don't miss your chance to pick up a $1.00 copy!

Here's the full URL to the book:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281260

Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

By hook or by crook, get this on your Nook!

I am pleased to announce that Shioni is now available on Nook over at the Barnes & Noble store.
Click here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Join the Adventure on Amazon!

The Enchanted Castle is now available for purchase on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.de. Come and enjoy the adventure!

Includes original illustrations by the Ethiopian artist Senait.

I am currently working on a print edition, and hope to make it available soon. (I love eBooks, yes, but I also love the printed page - it has a different kind of magic) Watch this space!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Enchanted Castle is now on Smashwords

Book 1 of Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle is now available in a Smashwords Edition, which covers Kindle, Epub, PDF, and other popular eBook formats.

Go to The Enchanted Castle.

The price is $1.99 on Smashwords.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Welcome!

Welcome to the home of Shioni of Sheba, an exciting new fantasy series set in ancient Sheba. Step into a truly African fantasy adventure with Shioni, slave to the Princess of Sheba, as she battles Sheba's enemies against the spectacular backdrop of the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

I am looking forward to publishing Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle on Kindle very soon - watch this space for news!

On this blog I hope to keep you up to date with happenings in Shioni's world, and provide exclusive insights, previews and news. I invite you to explore the fascinating, mythical land of Ethiopia through Shioni's eyes, and experience for yourself the magic and mystery only to be found in ageless Africa.