‘USAVIA’ is a trilogy of novels I have written for teens of all ages. What’s it about? Here’s a brief summary:-

Two great rival expeditions race across ocean, rivers and jungle in search of a fabulous lost city. And exploration turns to all-out war.

The totalitarian Axist Empire sends three thousand well trained and disciplined soldiers and airmen in a fleet of huge armed airships.

The (wildly) democratic city-state of Usavia sends a similar number of civilian volunteers, also armed to their proverbial teeth, but with little training and less discipline.

What Usavia does have is the 80,000-ton ocean liner Gloriana, the boundless enthusiasm of amateurs, a million or so bullets, and teenager Jimmy Fort.

Jimmy strives to join Usavia’s expedition, stay on it, help beat the Axists, and live to tell the tale. The last literally, since he is a cub reporter. So he joins a liner-load of trigger-happy lunatics. And they’re the GOOD guys!

To be sure to be sure, the Axists also send saboteurs, a fleet of armed trawlers and submarines, and enlist the aid of huge sea monsters, an army of small but nasty green alien Nazis, and even the weather, in the form of a lethal storm that has raged a thousand years.

More to come…


Author and social media expert Nathan Bransford interviewed social media expert Sarah Hill.


This interview has inspired me to up my game! I’m definitely going to move from smoke signals and carving stone tablets to inscribing papyrus, once I’ve harvested enough reeds. I may even try vellum! I’ve heard it’s great once you get someone else to kill and skin the sheep.

But seriously, many thanks to Sarah Hill and Nathan for this. Opportunity can become overwhelming and we need experts as much to advise us on what NOT to do as what to do. The sheer scope and width of social media can induce shallowness of engagement and low conversion rates, measured in actual sales. I see that from my own reactions to social media. I easily get overwhelmed and speed-read or just turn the whole damn thing off. But I return again and again and learn something new every day, if not every hour.


Publisher’s Weekly published an article criticizing vulgarity in publishing:-


If book sales have dipped entirely or substantially because of vulgar titles, this is the first I’ve heard it suggested. If readers are really so put off by vulgarity that should be reflected in bestseller lists, with vulgar titles selling less. Is that really the case?


The Hobbits had no cars, but Middle Earth did have AIR transport! So here’s my rewrite:-

LOTR abridged by John T. Shea.

Once upon a time Frodo Baggins hopped onto an eagle, flew to Mount Doom, dropped the Ring into the volcano, flew back home, and lived happily ever after.

The End.

Peter Jackson is making a movie version that will be thirty seconds long and cost 500 million dollars.

Shaky Cities and Mortal Engines?

Many thanks to Radio Retrofuture’s Bonsart for his Youtube video about the box office failure of the ‘Mortal Engines’ movie about moving cities in a post-apocalyptic future, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLtSlbd4r7Y

He’s right about the Cities’ integrity. Brick and stone buildings like St. Paul’s Cathedral would fall to bits in minutes since the City’s movement would feel like an endless earthquake, UNLESS it had some incredibly clever suspension. Likewise lack of audience familiarity, particularly in the USA, where the novels are not as well know as in the UK. But there’s also simple bad luck.

So, no more Steam movies! Unless it’s a ship, Mr. Cameron. Or a train, Mr. Branagh. So, steam yes, but no punk?

Dieselpunk remains a different matter, as we will be hopefully reminded when they finally make the fifth Indiana Jones movie. Internal Combustion may therefore triumph again on our movie screens before it’s replaced by electricity on our roads!

Bookstores and novel series.

A few thoughts on Publisher’s Weekly articles about bookstores and novel series:-

It was once widely predicted that people would live their lives online and never leave their homes. Yet the Internet has, if anything, encouraged more physical travel than before. People value experiences as much or more than ever. Our bookstores can be attractive destinations in their own right.

I was surprised when I first read Scott Westerfeld’s Young adult steampunk novel ‘LEVIATHAN’ that it ended inconclusively. The hardcover I read gave no indication that it was not a complete story. I still enjoyed it and bought and read the rest of the trilogy when the books were published.

This happened again with Marie Lu’s novel ‘WARCROSS’ which ends on a cliffhanger. I enjoyed the next book ‘WILDCARD’ but some indication when a book is the first of a series would be welcome.