Month: August 2015

Readers Favorite! Roman Mask, 5 Stars! #books

You may notice a silver medal on the top right hand side of my blog, showing five stars.  This is from readers favorite, who have awarded me this after reviewing my book, Roman Mask.  Readers favorite are The fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet.  They are the recipient of “Best Websites for Authors” awards by the Association of Independent Authors. They are also used by the large publishing houses Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House, and Simon & Shuster among others. The reason I went to these guys to review my novel, was because I felt it was important to get a completely impartial view on my novel, from a source that is world recognised and renowned for their fair and honest reviews.  Needless to say, I was delighted to receive 5 stars!  They also have an annual book award contest in April, so who knows, I might just take part in that too! Anyway, here is the review I received: Reviewed By Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers’ Favorite Thomas MD …

10 Great features of a castle #writing #fantasy #history

You can’t beat a castle to form a dramatic setting for a novel.  If you are writing a story from the past, you can steep it with the historical detail so beloved of the genre.  Equally, if you are writing a fantasy novel, you can let your imagination run free as you create a great stronghold.  One of my favourite aspects of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is the number of incredibly expansive and spectacular castles, all uniquely different, that form the seats of power for all the great families. If you want some pointers where to start, here are 10 to get you going. picture from lookandlearn.com Battlements and Machicolations.  A few crossbowmen along the battlements go a long way to deter any but the most determined attacker, but if necessary, you can have machicolations – stone boxes that project from the wall and had holes in the floor – ready to pour boiling oil, rocks, or any other nastiness down on the poor unfortunates below. picture from travelblog.org Arrow slits.  Such a simple …

Calling all authors and book reviewers…FREE marketing! #bookmarketing #authors

picture from youtube.com My own novel ‘Roman Mask’ is about to appear on a blog tour of historical fiction websites, through the end of August and throughout September.  It has made me appreciate how important it is for authors to gain the exposure necessary to get a new book up and running.  As I have a website of my own, it only seems fair to make the same offer to other authors in need of marketing their own novels.  So you will see there is an extra tab on my site called ‘Submissions’.  This shows how you can submit a post to my website promoting your own work, providing it is a fantasy or historical novel.  It is completely free of charge; I just need a post that tells the readers something about your novel – it could be the inspiration behind writing the book, or why you were interested in a period of history, or anything really that tells us something about the novel.  I will then post this with a description of the …

Allan Massie, Augustus. A Emperor like no other… #books #greatreads

If you really like your Roman Imperial history, or would like to learn more, this is a great place to start.  Alan Massie’s novel on Augustus is both detailed and engaging, an excellent commentary on the man who probably did more to shape the Roman Empire than any other – high praise when you consider Julius Caesar is on that list. Augustus is largely accepted as Rome’s first Emperor (Julius Caesar was dictator for life) and although Augustus preferred to go by the term ‘princeps’ or first citizen, he completely reformed Rome’s old Republic into an imperial super-power capable of controlling the vast lands and provinces that stretched through Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. Alan Massie’s novel is a fictional memoir from Augustus, as he recounts his life.  It is divided into two parts.  The first is recounted by a middle aged Emperor in a triumphant tone as he retells the period of the civil wars which followed the assassination of his uncle, Julius Caesar.  He tells of his ascension to power as, with the …

What I love about writing… #writing

picture from en.wikipedia.org What do I love about writing most? Well, it’s the same things that made me such an avid reader in the first place.  Books have the ability to transport us to new worlds, or periods of time that are otherwise completely locked away from us.  The immersion can be so deep from a novel that we can imagine every step that any given character makes, and it is bringing those same characters to life that is the greatest joy for me as a writer. A book needs to be well written and full of descriptive passages, as they play an essential part in setting a scene and giving the writer’s world depth.  But it is the characters within that world, their hopes, wishes, loves, and desires that will make the story come to life.  When constructing a character for a novel, you want to be able to really get under their skin, understand all their passions and frustrations, their strengths but equally their weaknesses.  Only then can you understand how they will …

A new widget has appeared…

You may notice that a new widget has popped up to the side of my blog.  This is my Goodreads bookshelf that shows a few of the books I’ve been reading recently.  Goodreads is like a Facebook for book readers, where readers can compare the books they read, write reviews, and join discussion groups.  As an author I get an author page so others can follow me, and this blog now feeds directly into my Goodreads page – so if you’re reading this there, welcome!   I am new to Goodreads and to be honest I’m a bit lost navigating my way around it, but it looks to have lots of features I’m looking forward to exploring in the coming weeks.   Being so new, I don’t have many followers or friends on it yet, so if you’re on Goodreads already come find me, or if you want to join make sure you add me as a friend as soon as you do as I could do with some company on the site!  However, I already have …

Julian May, The Many Coloured Land….more fantasy than Sci-fi #greatreads #books

Okay!! I know what you’re thinking! How can you call this a fantasy novel? This is surely Sci-fi, after-all it starts in 22nd century Earth?  Not only that, the plot includes two exiled warring alien races.  Surely Sci-fi right?  Well no, not really, and that’s because the Saga of the Exiles series, which starts with The Many Coloured Land, actually reads far more like a fantasy novel than anything else.  That’s because the advanced technology of the 22nd century has given Earth’s inhabitants the ability to create a time portal back to Earth’s Pliocene Era (basically six million years ago, long after the dinosaurs but before the arrival of man).  The time portal is a one way trip, so only the 22nd century’s discontents, disenfranchised, and the odd criminal are willing to make the journey, seeking a technology-free wilderness on the other side. What they find instead is the exiled warring alien race, users of powerful mind powers, who have also cast aside the advanced technology that took them to our world. The wilderness of the …

How to avoid writer’s block whilst writing your novel #writing #writingtips

Writer’s block can come in many different forms.  For some it will mean they literately cannot write a word and stare at the screen, for others it means they can write but hate everything they do.  Others will get stuck coming up with ideas, whilst some will never finish a story as they don’t like the direction it is heading.  So what can we do about this? Well, there are no hard and fast rules here, and no cure-all fixes.  Each writer is different and they may have their own way of tackling this issue.  I’m not saying mine is any better or worse than theirs – this is just what has worked for me when I wrote my two novels. Firstly, let’s think about our writing environment.  If the only time you think about writing is when you sit yourself in front of your PC or typewriter you might be making life hard for yourself.  People often ask me how long I spend writing – as if it is a quantifiable amount of work that …

2 books on Roman cookery to give away!

Today I have two copies of Mark Grant’s book on Roman cookery to give-away.   I used this excellent book on researching the food eaten by my characters in my novel Roman Mask.  Roman cookery is so intriguing because it is both so similar to our modern palettes, but also subtlety different.  The Romans were of course famous for lavish banquets, but Mark Grant focuses on what the normal people ate, rather than the over-indulgence of the few.  His recipes come from ancient writings and he attributes each source for each of the dishes.  The Romans used herbs and strong flavours and you can see the origins of the Mediterranean diet that we know today.    Having an authentic meal in a book is a great way to set a scene and instill a particular mood, and I found this book incredibly useful in my research.  It also comes in handy if you want to host a dinner party that has a unusual edge.  All his recipes can be compiled by gathering commonly bought ingredient’s today – …

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, a different kind of hero

In most fantasy novels we have become quite accustomed to heroes with impressive physiques, great with a blade or bow, probably good looking too.  There is nothing wrong with that, one of the great things about fantasy writing is that we can escape to other worlds, where an early grave is often only avoided by our heroes’ physical prowess.  However, there are other ways to be remarkable, and sometimes it’s refreshing to find someone who survives through their wit rather than their brawn. That’s the case with Joe Abercrombie’s new ‘Shattered Sea’ series, which starts with the novel ‘Half a King’.  The lead character, a prince of a ruling family, has been born with one withered arm and a malformed hand.  As he lives in a warrior society, where a man’s worth is judged by how adept they are with their weapons, he suffers the scorn of his peers and his stern father.  But our character has assets that the others don’t, a sharp mind and resourceful spirit. I won’t go into the plot in …