Book Jacket


rank 5100
word count 39897
date submitted 01.09.2009
date updated 30.09.2010
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Popular Culture,...
classification: moderate

Diamonds and real gems

Dago Siko

Fate finally smiled on Africa and assembled seven great minds under a vision that would revolutionise the world. Then they found the bag of diamonds.


This is NOT a story about poverty.

This is a story about genius and opportunity, and a radical new vision that just might be the solution to world poverty.

An unapologetic portrait of contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa, sometimes stark and grim, sometimes idyllic, sometimes old and irredeemably corrupt, sometimes young and idealistic. But always suffused with that electric vibrancy that has become an African trademark.

Alang is poor and struggling to fit into university life. But he is gifted with a strange power to influence people.

Eddy is rich and tops the University's social ladder. But his intelligence keeps steering him towards deeper and more fulfilling pursuits.

Adeline and Cecile are intelligent and exceptionally pretty. But where one is open, impulsive and vivacious, the other is delicate, refined and disarmingly down-to-earth. And there's Eddy thinking he can just date them both, without consequences.

Ike is angry and frustrated. His single-mother cannot afford to send him to university and his 16year old girlfriend is pregnant. Then one night three men hire his taxi. By the next morning, he is sitting alone in the taxi with half a million in dollar bills and diamonds. And a dead man.

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, adventure, africa, class, colonisation, controversial, exciting, geo-politics, laugh-out-loud funny, poverty, revolutionary, romance, wealth

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Carrots wrote 1643 days ago

This book is a total delight and for me a real find on Authonomy. The author has a highly distinctive voice, with a fine sense of humour, great descriptive powers, but ,above all, a deep feel for the human condition. I'm so pleased somebody is introducing this part of Africa onto the contemporary literary scene. It's long overdue.

Jared wrote 1659 days ago


This is definitely a different book than anything I've seen on the site - your unusual premise and excellent pitch are a refreshing change of pace. A heavy subject, but one very worthy of exploring. It's a glimpse into a world that many of us don't get a chance to see.

You've got a superb way of describing this poor African setting in vivid detail, allowing the reader to see, smell and experience everything through the eyes of your characters. Alang, Eddy and Ike are all very well drawn out and compelling main characters, and your storyline flows at a nice pace. I felt after reading four chapters that your plot was well established and definitely moving in the right direction - not too fast, not too slow.

You've got a knack for portraying the basics of humanity in its simplest form through this story. Your voice and style are confident and delivered perfectly for this type of book. I didn't find any critiques to offer other than what has already been mentioned. This is very good, and I'm glad to back it.

Jared (Mummy's Boy)

mikegilli wrote 1693 days ago

Sitting on the shelf.
Ha, I´m just laughing at Simon´s battle with the fly..
maths, heat, religion and sex..Ch 6 is brilliant.
But so is Alang and the rat and Samson and Ike`s
terrifying dream.
This technique works..starting with action then pausing to
introduce the fascinating characters and cultural settings.
My only query is if 7 is too many for the reader to get his/her
head around.
Little style things..repeat words occasionally, eg Ch 1 repeat
bathroom 3 times close together. Could vary.
Some mega huge paragraphs you could put in bite sized chunks, eg
Ike's dream.
Only got to Ch 6. Catch you later......Lotsaluck.......Mikey (The Free)

tojo wrote 1685 days ago

This is a very unusual book, authentic and yet entertaining. And eye opener from this part of the world. an easy pace which reads well. I am not good at nit picking. I like a book or I do not. this is on my shelf with good reason.

karelkoninkrijk wrote 367 days ago

I'read it

RichardBard wrote 987 days ago

Hi Dago!

Since you haven’t been to Authonomy for a while, I hope it’s okay that I’m sending this through your book comment:

I’d like to thank you for backing BRAINRUSH (a Thriller) last year. Because of you it hit the Authonomy Number-1 slot, attracted an agent, and landed a film option. Now that’s a brain-rush! The formal book launch is September 1st and the sequel will be released in December. None of this would have been possible without your help. So, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Richard Bard, BRAINRUSH

PS. If you want a good laugh, check out the temporary book-trailer video on the BRAINRUSH website. It’s there as a placeholder for the upcoming professional video. The current one features children and it’s guaranteed to make you smile! And yes, the younger kid on the screen is really me. You can see the video at The link is also on my Authonomy profile page. Special offer for former Authonomy backers between now and the formal launch on Sept 1st: If you would like to receive a “Review” copy of the eBook (plus 2 FREE thrillers from the Kindle Top-20 PAID Bestseller list – yes, really), go to the website, click the “Contact” button, and leave a message that includes your Authonomy username and the secret code words “I Feel the Rush!” Details of this promo will be emailed to you. Thanks!

name falied moderation wrote 1358 days ago

Dear Dago
what a wonderful book this is. firstly the book cover is so attention grabbing and the long pitch just reeled me in like a good pitch should, it sells your book for sure. You have given me a window in which to peer through that shows me this wonderful country and some of the culture. of course you have also written a fabulous thriller, so well crafted, i have not read it all yet, but I will carry on reading and comment further on as I would like to get this book of yours backed to assist it on the climb to the top.
Backed for sure my me. ..I would really appreciate it if your would look at my book, COMMENT , and back it. If not that is OK also
The VERY best of luck with your book

The Letter

PATRICK BARRETT wrote 1451 days ago

This is thoroughly absorbing, you could write on any subject and gain my attention immediately. A continent the size of Africa doesn't produce anywhere near the amount of writing relevant to its size and you seem to be the writer to correct that. The characters are real and the authenticity drips off the pages. Paula Barrett (Cuthbert-how mean is my valley)

carlashmore wrote 1453 days ago

This is a refreshing change to many of the books I have read about Africa of late. Your pitch is fascinating and I loved your prose. Simple, accessible, yet there is hardly a word out of place and a page-turning pace to it. I am delighted to back this.
The Time Hunters

Andrew Burans wrote 1453 days ago

Your use of imagery and discriptive prose takes the reader right into the scenes that you are painting. A finely constructed and well written story, authenticity rings throughout your story, with just the appropriate amount of humour sprinkled in. Backed with pleasure.

Andrew Burans
The Reluctant Warrior: THe Beginning

A Knight wrote 1454 days ago

This is wonderfully strong writing, and you can feel the joy and despair so clearly. You have done a fantastic job of bringing us into this world which so many have heard of but never truly experienced.

Backed with pleasure.
Abi xxx

gerry01 wrote 1462 days ago

A well written and informative book. Best fo luck with it. Gerry

Andy M. Potter wrote 1477 days ago

hi Dago, nice writing! excellent scene setting. hooked me immediately. loved the insights into A's character as he watched the rat & thought of his debate. scene by scene, you drew me into your story.
on my shelf.
best wishes, andy

mariecapri wrote 1479 days ago

I hope your book is read and your voice heard. Kind regards, mariecapri (Cosmic Linx)

missyfleming_22 wrote 1498 days ago

This is just beautifully written. Your sense of description is so vivid, I felt like I was right there with Alang. I love your narrative voice, it flows so naturally and I found it easy to read. Your book truly took me away to someplace new and if I had the time, I would be reading this all night. Great, great book.

Mark of Eternity

Burgio wrote 1498 days ago

I like stories that transport me away from my everyday world to one in a different time and place. And this story does that well. I’m suddenly in Africa in a very mean place and surrounded by some very mean men. A good read. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

udasmaan wrote 1503 days ago

A very good start. you are able to explain the sheer force of poverty in a powerful way, really powerful. I enjoyed it. the rat thing, the hunger, the bathroom, the father in the family, the education, and the poverty, they all support your story. it is good and fun to read. backed

shah - the interpreter

Barry Wenlock wrote 1509 days ago

Hi Dago -- I can't add to the comments but I really enjoyed this. An excellent read. Best wishes, Barry
(Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys)

Nick Poole2 wrote 1521 days ago

Well this is a glimpse of Africa that we don't often see. Not Wilbur Smith certainly.

But we do start with Alang and a rat. Then off to see Boboh and wife.

And we have Eddy, his rival. The debate. Should Africa be re-colonised (ha! That should go down well).

Thousand francs. That's supper sorted! I'll read on...

This really comes alive with Ike in Chapter 4. Not to say it wasn't lively before. But we are really into the story here.

As I said, we tend to only see tiny glimpses of Africa. The World Cup will show us a bit of South Africa. But we forget how huge and varied a continent it is, thronging with millions of Alangs, Eddys, Ikes , Adelines and Ceciles.

More than happy to shelve this.

"Mirror In The Sky" (featuring an Africa that never existed at all!)

lionel25 wrote 1526 days ago

Dago, I like the setting in this first chapter. I've never been to Cameroon but you've shown me a piece of it in your story. I can't really fault anything in this chapter.

Happy to back this.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

SteveLB wrote 1569 days ago

This is very well written and very skillfully evokes the scenes you describe. The characters are strong and the dialogue well put together.

A very enjoyable read.

Shelved for further reading


runestone0 wrote 1574 days ago

Here in America one only sees coverage of the poverty, non-stop warfare and depravity of Africa. I'm so glad to be let into the vibrant intellectual life. It reminds me of the intellectual culture portrayed in 19th century Russia; poverty-stricken intellectuals in Crime and Punishment. How one lives in the world of ideas yet faces the bitter reality of poverty. Very refreshing and I'm learning a lot.

Jillylinton wrote 1583 days ago

Descriptive, which makes it very easy for me to be where the characters are and I also like the quiet humor, especially in light of the important topics it touches on.

Caroline Hartman wrote 1584 days ago

Dear Dago Siko,
I found your novel a pleasant surprise, very intellectual and well done. The way you use words, your voice, is refreshing. My life has been so easy compared to of what you write, and my college days, those days of such strong beliefs, have faded into jaded memories However, 'Diamonds..." brought back memories of the raw intensity of that time in my life. Your charaterizations, your pacing, the rhythm of language enhanced the story, and right from the beginning I sensed an undercurrent of anxiety. My only suggestion is to perhaps in the novel itself meniton earlier the exact geographic location of he story. I am shelving 'Diamonds...' for its excellence. It will go far..
KC Hart
Summer Rose

cat5149 wrote 1585 days ago

Hi Dago,

This is a very distinctive book and deserves to do well on Authonomy. When I read I love to learn about different cultures and you've certainly done that. Your writing--prose, dialogue and description are all first rate. I also knew that you were using the rat as a metaphor, yet it disgusted me and drew me into the story all at the same time. Shelved.


FrancescaPolini wrote 1585 days ago

I am so glad to have found this book. Love the topic and how you use sense of humour in a topic that could have been depressing. Really like the title too and the way you write. Excellent in so many way.s Backed with real pleasure.

C W Bigelow wrote 1587 days ago

Dago, love the way you use the rat to symbolize the struggle and the fight to survive - how it depicts everything Alang hates but they are much alike it seems to me. Very nicely written with a very comfortable pace and found the descriptions excellent Look forward to reading some more. Backed. CW (To Save the Sun)

Tim Pertwee wrote 1589 days ago

Hi Dago

I think your long pitch is one of the best I have read on this site. It is clear, outlines succinctly the main characters and their relationship, establishes the tone and ambitions of the book and (particularly with the last two sentences) provides a great hook.

I have only read the beginning so far but enjoyed what I have read. The scene with the rat is both grotesque and amusing at the same time. Because it is quite an extended scene I couldn’t help but view the rat as a metaphor for the downtrodden. Whether this is right or not probably doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you manage to place us very vividly in Alang’s world.

I do have a couple of nit-picks which I only mention because they are at the beginning of the book which is probably where you are going to have to hook an editor or agent. I wondered if you could find an alternative word to “dotted” for the shallow puddles. Dotted would be ok for raindrops, but puddles? In referring to the puddles, I would omit the word “literally” from “literally heaving with microscopic life”. I don’t think a puddle can literally heave. “Teeming with microscopic life” perhaps? And I don’t think you need the weak adverb “really” in “A rat in the bathroom was not really a strange occurrence…” It adds nothing.

This is an ambitious and original book which I am happy to shelve.


Leigh Fallon wrote 1590 days ago

This instantly appealed to me. I have a soft spot for all things African. The opening chapter is brilliant. I'm upto chapter 3 and still enjoying. You have a really great writing style that I feel comfortable with and your charactors really come alive off the page.
Enjoyed and backed.
Leigh Fallon
The Carrier of the Mark

JD Revene wrote 1590 days ago


I'm returning your read of Appetites. Thank you for your support of Appetites.

Starting with the pitch. Your short version, doesn't quite work for me: the wording 'under a visions', I think throws me. But the long pitch is great. I was initially unsure about the opening line--a little too strident?-which reminds me of Bono introducing Bloody Sunday, but the whole is so good . . .

Into the work proper. Chapter one I've read without taking a single note. Great stuff with an easy flow.

There's an amount of exposition but it's neatly handled not slowing the story down.

Three chapters in and I have little to offer by way of constructive critique.

To be honest not the sort of work that I would read, but undoubtedly well written.


DurbanSun wrote 1590 days ago

this is quite an intriguing book. As I am very interested in Africa this was interesting for me to read. I think that at times the tempo of the story needs to be picked up to keep the reader engaged but overall the strength of the story compels the reader. There are also some minor grammar errors that need to be ironed out. But once these are fixed I think this should climb up the charts. Backed.
Best of luck.
(Squash Diary)

sjbal wrote 1591 days ago

Hi Dago,
This is a real gem - shelved.
Good luck,
James (The Lycetta Legacy).

pialia wrote 1593 days ago


I backed this a few days ago and just have time to leave you a note. The opening is strong with immediate immersion in Alang's environment. We learn of his likes, dislikes, his position in society. Then we meet Eddy, who is a calculating womanizer, and I think you have done a great job with characterization, keeping them consistent yet surprising. The debate over whether Africa should be re-colonized is such an explosive issue that I have trouble believing anyone would argue in favor of it. But I'll be interested to see how it plays out. The writing has depth and local flavor. It's an impressive work so far.


Strayer wrote 1593 days ago

Who would ever think that a rat would draw the reader into the story? I would like to read the rest of this because I want to know how it ends. This was a great read and I enoyed the book. The writing is smooth and easy to understand.

fifi wrote 1594 days ago

This is really very good indeed. I have to confess that I wasn't particularly looking forward to it as I thouight it might be a bit 'worthy', but you had me in the first 500 words & I just kept reading. The characters are real and engaging, the sense of place drags you right in. Although you fgeel sympathy for the poverty of some of the characters because they don't pity themselves, you don't get the whole condescending charity case feeling that these sort of things so often generate.
Most definitely backed & I really feel I've found another WHY ISN'T THIS PUBLISHED book.
A couple of miinor points - there are the odd words & phrases that either aren't spelt right or with the wrong sense. You might want to get someone else to take a look at it to pick them up.
Also your pitch is not great (hence why I was so unsure of this.) The opener is OK, the introduction of the characters is OK but cut the rest of it.
The very best of luck with this, it deserves to get right up there.
Fi. :-)

Brian Ford wrote 1595 days ago

Dago. First of all I found your pitch intriguing but slightly confusing at the same time. All in all I think it contains slightly too much information, and you could think about working on it a little. I then read chapters 1 to 6, and enjoyed them very much. You have a fine talent for characterisation. I feel I can see these characters instanty and hear their different voices. The only slight doubt I have concerns the opening. It's excellent and evocative writing, but choosing the rat episode as your opening paras possibly comes across as a stereotype of poverty. As you say in your pitch, this is not a book about poverty. These are minor quibbles. This is already very good. With a little polish I think it could be truly excellent. Shelved. Good luck with it.

Tony Lewis wrote 1596 days ago

Interesting pitch that, with its final paragraph, plunges us immediately into what’s in store in an alien world we know very little about, or what we do know is conveniently filtered for our own benefit. I found the rat scene excellent in so many ways – it told us so much.

Your scene-setting and character creation are excellent: just enough detail to enable us to feel part of it, but not too much to be overloaded with detail. And every detail is included in such a way that counts.

I spotted a few punctuation errors here and there, but we’re all guilty of that! All in all, I found the first four chapters well-written, both intriguing and insightful and I backed it as it is something very different to much of what is on the site. Good luck with it.

Tony (If Only I Could Talk – a Canine Adventure)

AlanMarling wrote 1599 days ago

Dear Dago Siko,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I appreciate your dimensioned depiction of Africa, a place that often only receives negative media in too many countries. You also have outstanding pitches. After giving a firm nod to your opening paragraphs, I skipped to chapter seven. Here you describe the amusing courtship of Adeline by Dr. Atem. I also couldn’t stop reading about the over-the-top courtship of Cecile’s boyfriend.

In my fallible opinion, you could make your narrative flow even better by adding a speaker attribution to the line “So if someone tries to brain you….” as the speaker is unclear. Also, I believe a typo snuck into you story in “inspired inspiration.” Also, a capital escaped you in “leaning forward.” A few dialog lines don’t have their end punctuation, starting with “Tell me”

These small matters aside, I enjoyed your story. Bravo! Backed.

Best wishes,
Alan Marling

lisawb wrote 1599 days ago

Great insight into another culture. Good character building and nice descriptions, not so nice of the dying rat!!! Seriously a good read and very interesting. There is a passionate feel about the read and it is easy to engage and get into. It is compelling and I shall probably return to read more.

Shelved with ease.

ww Lisa

S Ridley wrote 1601 days ago

Every character I've read, so far, is filled with brilliance and contain thier own distinctive voice. You've got a great sense of story and writing. I found no nits.
Enjoyed every bit I read. I will be reading further to see how these characters intertwine.

S. Ridley

jfreedan wrote 1602 days ago

I believe your writing accurately describes the setting and creates believable characters. I will say that your pitch does introduce the characters, but it is vague on what the central plot of the book is about. You may want to consider tightening the pitch, as a good pitch can be used to build your query letter for agents and publishers.

I've only read a few chapters so far, but I have enjoyed your writing so I am backing.

maryinflorida wrote 1602 days ago

Your “Diamonds and Real Gems” thrusts the reader into an unfamiliar world when Alang steps on a rat, squirming underfoot on the gravel of a rugged bathroom, all while he carries a bucket of water. While many folks in the USA experienced this kind of life in the 1930s (my own parents) by the end of World War II, with rural America loosing workers to the automobile factories, things changed as big cities got bigger, among them plumbing. But I digress.

Alang hates rats, flies and mosquitos, and he’s horrified to have a squished dying rat lying in his bathroom. He retrieves a broken rake to scoop it up, but the rat lingers, squeaking. It manages to flee to a corner. Alang forces it out into the open, all the while it screeches and he howls from this primeval fear he has. At last, he succeeds in tossing the rat out of the building. He ties the door shut and uses what’s left of the water to bathe. He thinks of the essay he’s writing on famine, all the while himself hungry. His father has spent years slaving away to earn enough money to pay for University educations for his children, even if it meant they sometimes had little to eat. Jacob finished a degree in physics the previous year and this was to be Alang’s final year.

Alang is dressing to meet Mr. Senjo, a man who’s mentored him since secondary school, as they both desire social change. Mr. Senjo’s world is affluent and very different from his own. Alang lives in three worlds: that of his family and their poverty, that of his peers and their big dreams, and that of his dreams, where he’s a prince. He hides his poverty well and befriends people who never hear him speak of it, as his intelligence overrides his hunger.

He uses his last hundred franc coin to take a taxi to Mr. Senjo’s home with it’s fancy gated entry. Mrs. Senjo receives him warmly. He’s there to prepare for a UNESCO club debate on a controversial topic: Should Africa be re-colonized? The Prime Minister of Cameroon was scheduled to attend and the school hoped to squelch the risky topic, but after a news leak and the PM’s office confirming his attendance, the debate was still on. Even so, the school’s Rector has made it clear there should be no personal attacks. Alang was an avid reader and could debate extemporaneously with ease. He’s preparing more carefully for this debate because his senior club members are split on where they stand on the issue. His lead opponent is Eddy – wealthy, flashy, good-looking and a chic-magnet. He hardly cares about the Club, having joined just six months earlier in a rare effort to win a girl who didn’t fall at his feet. Clearly, Alang is envious.

Mrs. Senjo brings him snacks and juice and finally Mr. Senjo makes his appearance. Alang explains the reason for his visit. He’s opposed to re-colonization and needs to pick Senjo’s brain. Hours later, toting 3 big books, Alang leaves and Senjo gives him a thousand franc note for his taxi. To Senjo, it’s nothing; to Alang it will solve many problems.

Your take topics that would normally be found on page twenty of my newspaper and bring them to life in sympathetic characters, with terrific description and settings, and easy dialog. I’ll move this to my bookshelf.

Rosali Webb wrote 1602 days ago

This could be turned in to a film. I can envisage it all now. You do a fine job of evoking Africa in its truest light. I remember the metal sheeted toilets, the small children living with nothing but mastering English better than a lot of English children! This book is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully the start of a long line of them. Well done. Backed
Fieldtrip to Mars

Jupiter Echoes wrote 1602 days ago

An interesting premise. Actually, your premise was marked by big words and intelligent writing. I could back you on your premise alone!

The work begins strangely, with the rat. It was real encounter that shook me out of reality. BAM!
This is good. Too many books feel artificial, but this had an edginess in the writing which was reality.

Your style was a competent as Kuzuo Ashiguro (can never remember how to spell it). YOu linger well in the moment. Much better than i can. So i learnt something today.


J. G. Reynolds wrote 1602 days ago

Hi Dago
This is hugely impressive. Lovely flowing prose which sticks in the mind after you've read, good paced action and a fabulous sense of place. I like this a lot and really hope it goes somewhere for you as you've clearly worked very hard on it. Backed.
Hope you're tip top,
JG Reynolds (Head, Heart & Trousers).

DBraverman wrote 1603 days ago

Hi Dago,

I just read the first chapter of DIAMONDS AND OTHER GEMS and found it fascinating. I can't wait to go back for more. It is a real gem! I'm happy to back it, and appreciate your offer to do a swap read.

Best wishes,
Douglas Braverman

S.D. Gillen wrote 1603 days ago

Your pitch had me in a heartbeat. I'm not sure its good or not, I just know it was something I would like. I like how Alang considers himself a warrior. He is a great character and the rat grossed me out too.
Eddie is a likable character as well. I want to smack him, being I'm a girl, but he's fun to read about and he thinks fast on his feet.
I have yet to get to the rest of the characters, but if they are as intriguing as the first two, this book will fly on the shelves after being published. I think the storyline is excellent. I can't wait to read more.

SD Gillen

Pat Black wrote 1604 days ago

Hi there - a real find, this one, a genuine voice and a vision of the future as much as a modern-day parable. The story with the rat in chapter one was strong - I could almost smell the toilet and felt Alang's sympathy for the poor creature. Then we move into Alang's dialogue with Mr Senjo and their political viewpoints - with a hint of Eddy, and the contrasting figure he cuts with Alang. Excellent stuff

Pat Black

BL Phillips wrote 1604 days ago

Diamonds and Real Gems-

Great opening and very accomplished writing. A joy to read.

Maybe correct your title to capitalize Real Gems? Good job -Brad (Larcenous Tendencies)

Howard Matthews wrote 1604 days ago

Very realistic and evocative. I think you're probably ready for a re-read and an edit. (I'm at that stage now. All the stuff I thought absolutely fine I now see doesn't flow) just a few examples:
Chapter 2 He always came down every weekend” don't think you need always and every in the same sentence.
“When he had first had to go to..” too many had?
“Just when it was looking more than likely that he would “ Could there be a neater way?
She headed towards the door where he stood- - we'd been told earlier that he was leaning on the door.

Just details I know but that's good because the story and the setting are eminently readable so backed for that.

Good luck.

He's Dead, You Idiot

maitreyi wrote 1604 days ago

I love the way the Mofors and the Senjos are introduced. Starting with the shock of the rat and then placing Alang within his house and family before taking him off to the Senjos is a really good structure.

I never felt I was being given an exposition - it all seemed part of the story, as it should - and yet at the end of chapter 1 i am equipped to move on into the plot already acquainted with a good cast of characters.

very good. backed.

ALPACAJUNCTION wrote 1605 days ago

Africa has its problems. Most of the world is ignorant of them. Your book opens up a view into a different culture and displays problems not known to many living in "civilized" lands. I enjoyed your writing style and the way you describe surroundings and the chaacters themselves. Very good book and backed. Regards, Gordond

Ariel Du Plume wrote 1606 days ago

Dago, I love the way you write. It is as expressive as Africa herself! I enjoyed a couple of pages and had a good laugh. Your descriptions are excellent and not over done. Backed.


RSA wrote 1606 days ago

Hi Dago,

Diamonds and Real Gems deals with serious issues, but the way you approach them is fresh and interesting. I love the proud, strong character of Alang, and how you put a character like Eddy alongside him to make the differences in the personalities and worlds really pop. You descriptions are fantastic. I felt transported. Best of luck and on my shelf,

Rachael (Swimming in Fountains)

p.s.- a few specifics:
"There were shallow puddles dotted" I think removing 'there were' would make the sentence stronger.
I loved the part about Alang living in three worlds, one of which is in his mind, and the way you had him wait five minutes to drink the juice to show his discipline.
I think there are some places that need additional commas.