Tag Archives: Ilil-Arbel

Death of Choice – Ilil Arbel

Well over a year ago, my friend Ilil Arbel brought out a delightful detective story set in the flapper era. That story was called Madame Koska and the Imperial Brooch, and you can read my 5 star review here.

I wish I could tell you that Ilil has brought out a second volume in the adventures of Madame Koska, but I can’t. However I can tell you that she has contributed a story to the anthology called ‘Death of Choice’.

Ilil Arbel anthology

If you click on the picture it should take you to the Amazon page where you can do the ‘look inside’ thing.:) To be honest, I didn’t look inside because I know how good Ilil’s writing is, but don’t take my word for it. Look inside and enjoy!



Reviews of Vokhtah

I”ve been very quiet about the reviews of Vokhtah. Not because they were bad, far from it, but because I grew up in an era in which boasting was considered to be very rude. “Only uncouth people boast.” So I hoarded my wonderful reviews like a miser.

I know, I know… missed opportunity, stupid, old-fashioned. I could live with all that but I suddenly realised how ungrateful I must seem. Three generous people have spent time and effort creating reviews for Vokhtah, reviews that may sway more readers to the world, and I’ve barely acknowledged them publicly. That’s just not right.

So I’m not boasting. Okay? The only people who deserve a pat on the back are Ilil Arbel, Lord David Prosser and Rod Scoullar. I’ve provided links where I could and I hope you visit their sites because Ilil and David are both great writers and their work deserves recognition. Rod Scoullar is that rare breed – a reader who likes sci-fi.

Ilil Arbel

‘Vokhtah is a rare book of extremely high quality. It is science fiction at its best, with a tight plot, an alien civilization and world frighteningly real and three dimensional, and a fast pace that makes it hard to put the book down…’

Lord David Prosser

‘Be prepared to be surprised. Be prepared to read of a planet like no other. Be prepared to read of species like no other. All contained within this beautifully yet intricately plotted masterpiece…’

Rod Scoullar

‘”Vokhtah” is fantasy, very good fantasy. In reading I found myself transported to a fantastic, alien world. This world can be forbidding. Bitter cold, searing heat and vicious predators await those who travel its paths. I was taken on such a journey…’

You can read the full reviews here. All three make me blush, and I thank their authors from the bottom of my heart!

I’m not going to get all mushy but… knowing people have read my book, and enjoyed it,  is like having Christmas all through the year.



Meeka’s Maintenance

This post is going to be full of bits and pieces. I thought of calling it ‘housekeeping’, but that had negative connotations coming from someone who hates housework, so I opted for the more blokey ‘maintenance’. Imagine me with an oil can instead of a feather duster. 🙂

At the very top of my to-do-list are some thank yous. They go to my blogger friends who have taken me under their wing on Twitter. While I’ve been fluffing around learning how to use Twitter, they’ve been out there, including Vokhtah in their tweeting schedules. They are all brilliant writers in their own right and have more than enough to do promoting their own books, so that’s friendship above and beyond. Candy, David, Laurie, Carol, Ilil – you guys truly are the best!

While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank the nice people at Novelspot who have given Vokhtah an extra home and a bit more visibility!

Next on my list is Hootsuite. For those who’ve never heard of it, Hootsuite is like a social media organizer. It allows you to access all your social media applications from one place. It also filters tweets into sensible categories that make Twitter so much easier to use. I’ve only been on Hootsuite for one day but I’m already loving it. If, like me, you find Twitter rather chaotic, give Hootsuite a try. [You were so right Candy!]

And now for a weather report. Big chunks of northeastern Australia are once again under water. Many of the people affected have barely recovered from the last flooding. In southeastern Australia [where I am], we are still living with the threat of bushfires because down here, the bloody rain just won’t fall. We’ve had a few, welcome days of cooler temperatures and overcast skies, but no rain.

The two pictures below provide a sharp contrast.

warrandyte view

This was what my block was like in late December 2011. Not lush by any means but okay. Thanks to the terracing I put in over the years, the rain that did fall stayed in place and kept the grass alive.

dead grass

This is roughly the same view today. The narrow band of green in the foreground is from grey water. The band of green in the distance is from the septic line providing some moisture. Most of the blocks around me have no green at all.

In Australia, the grasses always go brown over summer but spring back as soon as we get some rain. At the moment the grass is so dry it crumbles to dust when you walk over it. It’s a bit grim.

All is not gloom and doom however because I have just bought the latest Two Steps From Hell album called Skyworld!

Whatever kind of day you’re having, I hope this track gives you a lift. 🙂



Work-in-progress Blog Hop

Just when I think I’m starting to understand the blogging world, something happens and bam, I feel like a nOOb again. Today though, I’m more than happy to be a nOOb because I’ve finally found out what a blog hop is all about. I’ve also been nominated for this particular blog hop by a buddy of mine, Alex Laybourne. Alex is a writer, a kindred spirit [even though he writes horror -gasp-] and a participant in this year’s nano marathon, so basically he is an all-round great guy. Thank Alex. 😀

Now, is there anything a writer likes to talk about more than their current work-in-progress [WIP]? That was a rhetorical by the way. Clearly, the answer is no, so it should be obvious why I jumped at the chance to wax lyrical about my WIP. My only problem is… which WIP? Technically I should be talking about Vokhtah, book 2 but, I’d rather talk about the story I’ve been ‘plotting’ ever since I decided to do nano this year.

I hate the straitjacket feel of an outline which is why I am a pantster through and through. This time however,  I’m not allowed to jump in and start writing until November 1st, so I’ve been scribbling ideas down instead. Some of these ideas relate to the plot, so technically I am outlining something,  but I fully expect most, if not all, of this pseudo outline to disappear after the first 1000 words. Imho, logical outlines lead to predictable plots and I hate reading those, so I encourage my inner pantster to take me in unexpected directions. -cough- End rant.


***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog.
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

What is the working title of your book?

Innerscape. Or possibly Mira. I may just go with Mira because it’s shorter. 🙂

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the character of Mira came from the very first short story I wrote – 2080. But I’ve been thinking about the evolution of online gaming and virtual living for a very long time. Tad Williams explored the idea in his wonderful series called Otherland, and I’ve read other sci-fi versions as well, but I wanted to push the concept a little further.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hmmm…. the closest definition I can think of is ‘soft-ish’ science fiction. No two writers agree on exactly what soft sci-fi is but the definition I like the most is psychological, social sci-fi. I’m going to be adding a bit more speculative tech to the mix but the overall focus will be soft.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ugh, this is a question I don’t even want to think about. The minute you visualize an actor in the part, some of their quirks and mannerisms inevitably colour the character’s development. I really don’t want to do that, especially at such an early stage.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Another problematic question this one. And no, that was not my answer! Just sort of thinking aloud. Okay, this is the best I can do for now : ‘If you could extend your life by entering a digital reality, would it become heaven or hell?’

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As this will be a nano project I don’t expect the story to be ready for publication for a very long time. However, once it is, I expect to publish as an indie.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oops. As this story is still just a twinkle in my eye, I can’t really say anything about the gestation period. Knowing me, however, I’m sure it will take years!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The obvious choice is Otherland, by Tad Williams. One of my favourite series 🙂

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My direct inspiration was Lady Julia Prosser. She is fighting a losing battle with cancer, yet she lives each day to the fullest. Being a writer, I couldn’t help wondering how I would spend my time in similar circumstances. That’s the underlying thread of the story.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Despite my hard-baked, cynical facade, I am a romantic at heart, so there will be a romance of sorts in the story. Hmmm… correction, there will be love in the story and there may be a bit of romance as well but please don’t expect it to be the focus; you’ll be disappointed!

My 5 nominations are:

[This is hard as so many of my friends have just published so I’m not sure if they have WIPs or not but I hope they do!]

Candy Korman

Ilil Arbel

Laurie Boris

M. Edward McNally

Lord David Prosser

Madame Koska and the Imperial Brooch – a review

This is my 130th post on Meeka’s Mind and it seemed rather appropriate to celebrate that milestone by reviewing the book I finished reading at 1 am this morning.

I’ve know Ilil Arbel, author of Madame Koska and the Imperial Brooch, for a long time now, [by online standards], so I knew she was an accomplished artist, meticulous researcher and a prolific author, but I was not aware of her sense of fun, until now. 🙂 Apologies for the back-handed compliment Ilil – it’s the aussie way!

When I finished reading Madame Koska I had a big grin on my face. This morning, the word ‘fun’ just popped into my head. Good, clean fun. The word we use to describe some of our happiest memories. You know the ones – they have a sort of warm, golden halo around them. Well, that was how Madame Koska made me feel!

Okay, I’ve probably teased long enough. You don’t want my subjective waffle, you want facts and facts you shall have!

Madame Koska is a mystery set in the flapper period of the 20th century and tells the story of a small group of Russian nobility who have been exiled from Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution. As a mystery, the story has all the elements I associate with the genre – lots of subtle clues that make you suspect literally everyone and a protagonist [Madame Koska herself] who is both likable and very clever. But not a professional sleuth.

If a comparison is needed, then Madame Koska is a little bit like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Unlike Miss Marple though, Madame Vera Koska is both incredibly stylish and sexy. Another point of difference is that Madame Koska has forged a place for herself in a man’s world and is doing nicely, thank you very much!

Forgive me if I slip into a little subjective waffle again, but I really, really related to Madame Koska! She has all the get up and go I wish I had had, at ‘that certain age’. She is independent, brave without being a Xena-warrior-princess, and strong willed. The fact that she is also a talented fashion designer and always looks elegant is something I might dream of if I were not sitting here in my trackie daks and ugg boots*.

And then there is Mr Korolenko, a Russian émigré with a scandalous past and an ambiguous present. He is sexy in a very erudite, gentlemanly way, but could he also be a criminal? I did say Ilil kept me guessing didn’t I?

Beyond the delightful characters and the clever unravelling of ‘The Mystery’, the book has something else that truly delighted me. To explain what I mean I’m going to have to ask you to picture the setting of Jim Cameron’s Titanic. Think back to the sheer beauty of everything the camera touched. From the table settings to the lush garments of the upper crust guests, the movie shrieked style and opulence. I wanted to be there. Well, not on the ill-fated Titanic exactly, but in a time and place where such over-the-top beauty was the norm, at least for some.

Can you see it? Well, Madame Koska transported me to that world for a few short hours. I’m not saying the novel didn’t have some gritty moments – as in the opium den for example – but the overall feel was one of elegance and style. And the slightly exotic flavour imparted by the Russian-centric characters immersed me in a ‘vorld’ I had never visited before. It’s a world I would like to visit again and I truly hope Ilil continues the adventures of Madame Koska in the future! Highly recommended. 🙂



*trackie daks = track pants

*ugg boots are sinfully warm, comfortable, sheep-skin boots. If you don’t own a pair then you don’t know what you are missing. 🙂

Is creativity a leisure time pursuit?

I feel as if a big fat finger is poking me in the back, prodding me to write this post so here goes.

A few days ago  Medmcn [also known as M. Edward McNally] and Ilil Arbel, both very talented writers, were talking about the years they had wasted doing responsible things – like earning a living – before finally being able to follow their passions.

Then just yesterday my neighbour Sallyanne, an incredibly talented photographer, laughed off the slow growth of her business with the words
“…but the kids come first”.

The photo on the right is a portrait Sallyanne took of my late father for his 89th birthday. Dementia was slowly eating away at my Dad but Sallyanne managed to capture the old Dad and immortalize him as he used to be. For me that was a minor miracle and shows just how talented she truly is.

The final prod came this morning when Metan, another very talented lady blogger, mentioned how hard it was to find the time to do her research when the dishes had to be done, kids uniforms washed etc, etc.

How could I ignore that fat finger of fate any longer?

The trouble is that I don’t quite know where to take this post. Should I talk about the historical absence of women in the arts? Should I draw parallels with women’s ongoing responsibilities to their families as the cause? Or should I explore the idea that art for art sake can only happen when the artist is freed from the daily grind for survival? Yet as soon as I think along those lines my brain pipes up with ‘but what about the cave paintings?’ It’s hard to see how caveman artists would have had the leisure for art unless art was somehow functional.

I honestly have no answers here so I’m throwing the question[s] out into the void.

If you’ve got any ideas please jump into the discussion by leaving a comment.



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