Category Archives: Nephilim Quest

The importance of a good editor

I decided to finally start the interview pages I had intended to do for months now. All my time went into learning how to self-publish my first book so this had to wait.

But now I had the time to finally begin. As the first person to interview I chose my editor, Miriam Bibby. Miriam2

I had read about the importance of an editor all the while I concentrated on writing my book and then doing the first edit myself. So on a theoretical level I knew it would be important to have a professional editor.

Then, one day I sat there, having done the first round of edits, and knew this was the moment. Whom should I choose? Where could I find an editor who would be professional, whom I could trust? At the moment I was not a member of ALLi yet so I had no professional organisation to turn to for advice (The Alliance of Independent Authors, if you wish to know more, click on the logo on the right ride of the page).

And then I suddenly knew whom to ask for the task. Miriam Bibby! I had “met” her (via internet) during my Egyptology studies at the University of Manchester. She was a published author and had an excellent command of English. She had done editing jobs.

As I had nothing to lose, I wrote to Miriam and asked if she would be kind enough to help me. I knew she was busy with her horses and writing her own books, but I was lucky – she agreed to work on my book.

And this is when I really understood how a good editor can make a book better… No, how a good editor can make a book. Period.

I had planned my story line, generally speaking. But then new characters just jumped in without asking me, and the story began to write itself into unplanned directions. As a result the first draft was a bit of a muddle. Two wonderful people had read the first draft and encouraged me enough to believe that people would really want to read my book. But it needed developing.

And oh boy did we develop it… Miriam made me re-write, change the order of chapters, write more, introduce many of the characters much earlier in the story than I had originally done. Her comments were right on target and I knew I was working with someone whose passion was the story itself, who wanted to make it shine.

It was a lot of work, but I had decided I would do whatever necessary to make the story the best it could be. We emailed chapters to each other, commented, tweaked, deleted, rewrote… And on 31st of January this year Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter was published. (By clicking on the link above you can read the first 25 chapters – what better place to check the quality of the writing and editing.)

The whole pre-publication process of a book was a completely new experience to me. But oh boy was I the luckiest wannabe author out there when I found Miriam to work with me. I understand now what an inseparable team an author and her editor are – yet many people forget the role of the editor when they read a book. No first draft is good. It can be pretty horrible, actually. Refining it into a good novel doesn’t happen automatically. It is a lot of work, sometimes quite painful work when you have to “kill” the words you were so proud of in the beginning. But making the book the best it can be doesn’t happen without an editor. I now have the greatest respect for these “invisible” professionals to whom we and our books owe so much.

Here is Miriam’s interview page for you to read. If you need an editor, I sincerely recommend her. I only ask you won’t take all her time – I need her for my future books!



Champagne breakfast

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So the day is the big day. My book Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter  is now live on all the major e-book stores. I have been working on it for about two years, and was planning basically just to check this morning that the book really was live all those stores.

I did not have the time to do so before my husband had already risen from bed and checked. He came to give me a kiss and announced: “It’s live on iBooks!”

I got up from bed and checked all was well on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords and Payhip as well. And there my book was.

And then I was in for a treat. People had been asking would I have some kind of publication event and I wondered whatever for. (I’m not much of a party animal) Just another day in my calendar. Lots to do.

My husband was making breakfast while I wrote a letter to my preview team, letting them know the book could now be reviewed online. And then I headed for a cup of coffee.

What awaited me was not a cup of coffee champagne breakfast. Yes. Champagne, strawberries, newly baked bread, scrambled eggs and delicious coffee. He said this day was worth it – poured champagne on the glasses, and pronounced he was so proud of me.

I have the best husband ever…



Pre-Review of Nephilim Quest 1 Shadowhunter by Leena Maria

Oh my goodness – my first review…


A stunning and magical debut novel!

Five StarsNephilim Quest CoverLength: 561 pages         Publishing: 31 January 2016


Dana’s best friend Kitty has died in a car accident, and the only ray of light in the misery is when her grandmother appears in her spiffy red sports car to cheer her up. At the same time a nightmarish shadow appears to hunt Dana and she has to flee from her ordinary life with grandma, who turns out to be something quite different than what Dana had thought – a Huntress of Shadows. 

The truth about her ancestry is not an easy thing for Dana to accept – she was deliberately created to perform a task, to find something that should stay hidden, or it might threaten the world of humans as Dana knows it. Her existence is tied to the myth of the Nephilim, the descendants of angels, and her…

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So what’s with the dream world and buffer zone?

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Ok, so some people who have read my book Shadowhunter asked how I came up with the idea of the buffer zone around our world, and interacting with the “other side” through dreams. Not to mention life continuing after death.

Well, I have often seen precognitive dreams and even received information on how to do things – information I did not have read about before.

For example if I see a dream where fish or seals are swimming in the air, I know someone is about to make their transition from this physical existence. I have seen beforehand events that happened the next day  – the exact place and event, even though everything was a mirror image.

And once I had a dream where I walked in a forest and came to a little hut. I knocked on the door and an old man opened it. He welcomed me in and said he would now show me a special painting technique. He showed me a black and white painting he had made, and then how he layered thin layers of color on top of it, bringing it to life with vibrant colors. I tried to technique the next morning with a horse painting I was working on in acrylics, and to my surprise it worked perfectly. Only later did I learn the very technique is called the grisaille- technique. I had never heard of it before.

People who have died often come to my dreams, and the fun thing is that they are younger and more vibrant every time they appear. The encounters are brief, but I always feel good after such a dream.

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When I was younger I studied interpretation and translation at the university, and by accident ended up doing interpretation in a rather surprising environment – an English medium had arrived to where I live, to give a public demonstration, and the lady who was supposed to interpret for her caught the flu and had no voice. Someone knew me and asked if I could help them out. Well, I have to admit I was pretty curious about mediums, and so I agreed.

I was expecting a dim-lit room with a skull and a crystal ball and the medium wearing a turban, but instead I found myself in an ordinary lecture theater with a completely normal looking lady and ordinary people filling every seat. The medium began to talk and deliver messages from the “dead”, and I was totally surprised on how exact the messages were.

I interpreted for her and other mediums as well a few times, and they did not fish for information. Actually they told the clients were not to tell them anything, it was their job to deliver the information. I also got a message from someone I had known and the medium told the exact way this person had died. There was no way she could have known this beforehand. And all the messages from the “other side” were loving and encouraging, never dictating what the one still living here was supposed to do with their lives. The messages emphasized the fact that we are to make out own decisions in life. And that life continues after the doorway of death, and those who have already walked through it are still obseving our lives, and loving us.

So, these kind of experiences from my own life had an impact on Shadowhunter when the story began to form in my mind years back, and so this story has a buffer zone where the dearly departed can come to interact with us, and where dreams can be used for these interactions. The actual visiting this buffer zone in physical form is all imagination, though.

Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter at Amazon

Some Holiday Research


A week’s holiday was in order. Hubby and I decided to go sit by a pool in a sunnier climate for a week. The idea was to do nothing and get rid of work-related stress. Only eat, drink and be merry.

Guess twice did I succeed…? Well, a writer’s mind never stops working on the plot of the next novel. Which will be the second part of the Nephilim Quest series. And of course it happens in ancient Egypt (at least half of it does, as the story moves on different time levels). And Amarna is the place of choice in the second book. I admit it – I’m hooked to the New Kingdom period, and the royal house of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten (and yes, Tutanhkamon).

You would expect me to know my facts after studying Egyptology for five years, but it seems the more I read about the period, the more I realize I need to research more. Which is what I spent my holiday doing – reading about Amarna, making detailed notes (notice the little notebook), knowing I have several more books waiting at home on the same subject. Well, as I am the merriest when I can read and write, I had good fun.

And I got an idea for another book completely, not a fantasy novel, and thought the plot through when I wasn’t researching for Nephilim Quest.  Or rather let my mind develop in on its own when I put down the Amarna research for short moments. (The good point about siesta is that you are relaxed and lazy enough to let your mind wander) Explained it all to hubby dearest when we were sitting at a romantic little restaurant. His smile widened as I explained the whole thing and when I finally realized how amused he looked, I asked the famous “What?” question.

Apparently it was fun to watch me talking about ancient Egypt (don’t ever get me started by asking something about the subject or you’ll have a full lecture). He asked when will I start lecturing about Egypt to others. Don’t have the time, I answered – with a full time job and writing and painting I have enough on my plate. Let’s return to the subject if I ever can survive with the income from my writing and can use my days as I please.

Now comes the question of where to get the time to write all those stories… Anyone have any spare time to sell?

Writing Is Reading?

Hmm… I was complaining the other day (oh well, most of the days) that I don’t have time enough to read stories. At the same time I was formatting my story ready for publication. Going through those 180.000 words I thought about my writing process.

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And really – I had made plans on how the story would develop. I’m very good at making plans. Just ask my hubby dearest who is shaking his head at all my calendars – both paper- and digital ones. Well you gotta have a calendar where you plan your writing schedule – your work calendar. And then a smaller calendar for the handbag you can dig out to check your everyday events (the handbag in question is actually big enough to accommodate the bigger work calendar as well, but that’s beside the point…)

I learned to plan every day beforehand when I had to write all those essays during my Egyptology studies. When I planned everything in my calendar the first day of the new semester, I always knew what I needed to do each week and day. Lessened stress considerably.

So plans, careful plans, were made to write Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter. Only the story had other plans. It took over. New characters appeared and much to my surprise seemed to have a will of their own. When I really got into the flow of writing, my fingers typed and I just stared at the computer screen, wondering what was being written. It was like I was reading a book while it was being written. And oddly enough when I read the story through, I noticed my subconscious had tied the story nicely together. (Ok, well, nicely… The editing part took over a year)

So who am I to complain I don’t have time enough for novels? I was reading a story while my fingers typed in on the screen. Quite a wonderful experience, really, to see how a story pours out and onto the “paper”.

And now I need to take that work calendar and start planning the next story in the series… I do try to keep up with my plans, but most likely I’ll end up reading a story that writes itself through me. Still –  for a short while I can pretend I have it all planned beforehand, before I start the actual writing again…

The first chapters of Nephiilm Quest Book One: Shadowhunter can be read here.

If you have already read the previous chapters, you can continue with Chapter 2. Kitty Is Gone


And finally, the book is ready

I had a plot in my mind for years – one I wanted to write into a book. I started many times, but somehow never got any further than a few chapters. I could not understand why the story would not come out.

On hindsight I understand better. My father had suffered from cancer for years, and when his condition started to worsen, waiting for the inevitable simply stole so much of my creative energies I could not get the story out.

After he passed away, and the funeral was over, it was like floodgates had opened. I was in the process of writing my final essay for my Diploma in Egyptology studies (Middle Kingdom Fortresses in Nubia) and yet, at the same time, I wrote the whole story in four months. 150.000 words. It was like I had tapped to a never-ending energy source.

I then edited the story on my own for eight months (I was in no hurry to publish it). And after the first round of edits I knew I needed a real editor to work on my story – I wanted it to be the best it could be. I found Miriam Bibby, who had studied Egyptology at the University of Manchester as well, and who is a published author (for example her Mistress Meg stories are such a pleasure to read if you like stories set in the Elizabethan age).

She made me restructure the book, correct my writing, introduce some characters earlier into the story (which meant I needed to write more chapters). Miriam did not let me go easy, and I am grateful for that.  I did not perhaps fully realize how important an editor is until Miriam began to work on the story. Wow. Thank you so much, Miriam!

And then came the question of the cover… I had joined ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors), and one other member recommended Avalon Graphics to me. I wrote to Cathy Helms, and was impressed at how quick she answered – and delivered three wonderful suggestions for the book cover. Seriously – I could not decide on the cover, and had to ask my husband and Miriam for advice. They both liked this version the best, so here it is. And you bet I’ll have the covers of the other books in the series made by you, Cathy!

I shall publish this as an ebook in January 2016 (Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Nook…).  And as this is my first published novel, I want to give people a chance to check out my writing before making any decision on buying it. For that purpose I shall be publishing the first chapters in small bits on Wattpad and also here on my blog. Check out the tab that says “Books”, you will find “Nephilim Quest” underneath it and then the chapters.

And here’s a limited time offer: you get this book for free in return for a review on its publication date.

The reason I’m asking for reviews: reader reviews are the lifeblood of any author’s career. For someone writing after a 9-5 job, like myself, getting reviews means I can actually sell a few copies from time to time – which is always a nice bonus 🙂

So every review means a lot to me.

Click the picture below to leave your contact information and I will send you a link to the book in January 2016.