Stonechild and Gilf Kebir

As I read widely on the first few years of the British Empire’s struggle against the Axis forces, the logic behind my main character, Russell Stonechild, and the natural progression of the military struggle led to Africa. I have always been interested in geography, and my early research identified an interesting geographic location. “The Gilf Kebir,” so named by an early Egyptian explorer, Ahmed Mohammed Hassanein Bey. The Great Barrier.

The Gilf Kebir is a rock wall separating the desolate sands of Egypt’s Western Desert from the equally desolate expanse of the Libyan desert. Here occurred events of Ondatje’s “The English Patient.”

This formation is described by Alan Watson at

“Egypt’s Western Desert is full of wondrous natural phenomenon and surprises. Sometimes one wanders over a ridge or through a pass and discovers alien worlds, such as in the White Desert. Less known perhaps, but growing in popularity is the ancient plateau known as Gilf Kebir (Great Barrier), its sides now heavily eroded and penetrated by huge sand wadis and incredible dune systems which, at one point, rise 300 meters to meet the level of the plateau, an irresistible force meeting an immovable object!”

Watson goes on to describe this formation as “a huge shelf the size of Switzerland, it is nearly dissected in two by a large cap. It rises 300 meters from the desert floor (1075 meters above sea level), forming one of the most formidable barriers in Africa.”

I didn’t quite know how, but I knew early in my writing that Russell Stonechild would meet the Gilf Kebir.

I have read hundreds of pages relating to action around this amazing site. I have examined image after image. And now I have Russell Stonechild about to enter the sand-filled and rock strewn wadi’s of the Gilf Kebir. And here, a century and a half earlier, one of the wealthiest Egyptian warlords, Alfi Bey, may have hidden treasures pillaged through a lifetime.

Treasure, however, is low on Russell’s priorities. He has already run from Hitler’s onslaught in France and Belgium, as told in the novel Stonechild’s Enigma.  Now one of the hero’s of that Nazi victory has arrived in North Africa. Rommel’s Africa Corps has pushed the British to a fragile toe-hold on Egypt’s border. Russell fears the little blocking force of which he is part will arouse Rommel’s ire, and once more he will face a formidable foe with superior weaponry and leadership.

Kobo vs Smashwords vs whoknows

The Stonechild Chronicles began to take shape sometime around 2002.  I began to write and to explore publishing opportunities.  I bought books on publishing and completed my first novel, Stonechild Volunteers.  I began planning a series and adopted the overall name, The Stonechild Chronicles.  I began sending query letters to publishers and agents, and quickly determined the traditional publishing route to be a dead-end, both for my topic and the reality of being a non-credentialed writer.

On, or near the year 2005, I abandoned any initial hope of obtaining a publishing agreement and decided to publish on-line.  First, though, I focused on building content.  To the initial title of Stonechild Volunteers, I added, Stonechild and the Minotaur Maze, and Stonechild’s Enigma.

My wife and I had already self-published my dad’s biography, Horses, Trails and Trophies  and I planned for Dad’s book to accompany my novels into the on-line world. With four major works on hand, I began to research methods of publishing on-line.  Fortunately for me I had reached a sweet spot in the evolution of on-line publishing. provided an avenue for uploading Microsoft Word documents, setting one’s price, collecting money from purchasers, and retaining only 15% of the sale price.  Should works submitted come with covers and hyper-linked table of contents, Smashwords would place such works in their premium catalog and forward items to Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, and some other on-line retailers who would then charge about 30% in royalties.

A problem surfaced at the end of year one in marketing on Smashwords.  Readers had purchased a few copies, a mere $75.00  worth, but still a few.  However, for Smashwords to forward a royalty check I had to register with the American Internal Revenue Service

I decided to seek another publisher, more friendly to non-American writers.  I found Kobo and moved my titles to that site.

Again, I haven’t gotten to the place where royalties are flowing, but still hope Kobo to work out.  The process for uploading is similar to Smashwords.

However, uploading to and to the Apple iBookstore offers greater potential than Kobo.  Kindle ereaders and Apple iPads are far more numerous than Kobo ereaders.  As I begin to put more emphasis on marketing and not just writing, I will have to seek the widest possible market-place.

American IRS here I come.