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Reading books. Reviewing books. A Fantasy Blog.

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MY ‘TBR’ (To Be Reviewed) Pile

I like to read, no, scratch that; I LOVE to read! From fantasy to thriller, not much is off limits – although I’ve never been one for romance. I also review the books that I’ve read, as a way of sharing my opinions and hearing those of others. Do we like the same book? Yeah? Cool. No? Cool, tell me why.

There’s nothing better than talking to someone who loves the same book or author that you do, and waxing lyrical about that character or this character. It’s awesome! And this is why I get excited about the books I haven’t read yet; I am about to discover a character that I like, or even better, a character that I absolutely hate!

Below is a list of just some of the books I currently have on my ‘TBR’ pile. Let me know if you’ve read any of them yet, and if so, what did you make of them?

Continue reading “MY ‘TBR’ (To Be Reviewed) Pile”

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A Great Way To Conquer Writer’s Block

A Great Way To Conquer Writer’s Block

Do you ever find yourself sitting down at your computer with the will and determination to write something but not being able to actually type, well, anything?! Instead of creating the next bestselling novel, you end up watching funny videos of cats falling off things or the latest ‘fails’ compilation and wondering where the last three hours of your life have gone. Writer’s block hits everyone at some point, hell, it hits me every other day! Sometimes a little advice is needed on how to get yourself over that big bloody wall that is in front of your screen. Well, this may just be the answer…

Embrace Imperfection…and Say “No” to Writer’s Block!

by Mark David Gerson

“Embrace Imperfection” is the fourth of my seven surefire ways to unblock your writer’s block. You’ll find all seven in my book Writer’s Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow. 

Whether in writing or in life, many of us are addicted to getting it right. Being perfect, we believe, guarantees that we won’t be criticized, won’t be judged, won’t be humiliated, won’t be rejected. On top of that, we hope that a perfect first draft means fewer revisions…or none at all.

Being perfect is, well, just a good thing to be. Isn’t it?

I have bad news for you: Your writing will never be perfect. Never. Ever. Ever. It may be excellent, accomplished, creative, innovative and insightful. But perfect? Not possible.

It’s not possible because there is no exact or perfect way to translate the intangible (ideas, thoughts, visions) into the tangible (words on a page).

There is no exact or perfect way to describe a brilliant sunset or a profound emotion in a way that ensures each reader an experience identical to yours.

That isn’t a bad thing. This “approximate translation” gives your readers the space to have their own experiences of your words, to paint their own pictures from your descriptions.

Just as there is no way to control the words that flow from you onto the page and, at the same time, write from an authentic place of depth, there is no way you will ever be able to control your reader’s experience of those words. Nor would you want to.

How often have you been disappointed by a film portrayal of your favorite literary character because your inner director cast the role more astutely than the movie director did? How often have you read meaning into a novel that the author never knew was there?

Empower your readers to have their own experiences and recognize that all you can do is translate your experience as heartfully as you are able into the little squiggles on a page that we have agreed to act as imprecise outer symbols of our inner world. Begin by recognizing that most of the time you are only going to come close. Continue by knowing that it remains within your power to have your words incite revolution, topple dynasties, overthrow “reality.”

Do your best. Be aware, though, that if you remain intent on making it perfect, you will likely find yourself stuck on the same story — or sentence or word — for the rest of your writing life, never growing into something new.

As Salvador Dali once said, “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.”

TRY THIS

Can you let go of your natural human perfectionism long enough to let your story tell itself to you on the page? What are you waiting for? Pick up your pen. Describe what you see, what you feel, what you yearn for, what you love. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try at all. Just allow. And know that from that place of surrender, you are cre-ating perfection.

Adapted from Writer’s Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow. © Mark David Gerson

Look for Writer’s Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow in paperback from Amazon and other online booksellers, and in ebook form from the Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and Nook stores. You’ll also find it, along Mark David’s other books and recordings for writers at www.books4writers.com.

 

Mark DavidMark David Gerson is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books whose readers span the globe, Mark David Gerson electrifies groups and individuals around the world with his inspiring stories and motivational talks, seminars and workshops.

Mark David’s books include critically acclaimed titles for writers, including Birthing Your Book, The Voice of the Muse and Organic Screenwriting; award-winning fiction, including The Sara Stories and the Q’ntana Trilogy of fantasy novels; and such compelling memoirs as Acts of Surrender and Dialogues with the Divine. His screenplay adaptations of the Q’ntana books are on their way to theaters as a trio of epic feature films.

Known as The Birthing Your Book Guru, Mark David works with an international roster of clients to help them get their stories onto the page and into the world with ease. Having overcome his own writing challenges, he is uniquely qualified to fire up novices and seasoned professionals in any genre to unleash the power of their creative potential and get their books (or other writing projects) done.

Passionate, inspiring, insightful and intuitive, Mark David Gerson is popular with readers and book clubs and is a highly sought-after speaker, media guest, coach and editorial consultant.

So, what did you think of ‘A Great Way To Conquer Writer’s Block’? How do you cope with writer’s block? What’s the biggest ‘block’ that you have? Please comment and let me know, oh, and please, as ever, share on whichever social medium you prefer to use 🙂

Thanks for reading

 

 

Guest post: 5 Useful Principles When Self Publishing (Or The Only One That Matters)

Guest post: 5 Useful Principles When Self Publishing (Or The Only One That Matters)

Hi, my name is Timandra, and I’m a self published writer. Just a few weeks ago I published my debut fantasy novel Touch of Iron which Dan reviewed here. And today he’s being so kind and letting me take over his blog. So, strap up your boots, and let me march you through self publishing; what works, what doesn’t, plus 5 useful principles I learned along the way.

TW picture PotC

So let me get my teacher hat (and chalk) and write on the blackboard of your mind a truism you’re gonna have to deal with when self publishing: a lot of self published books out there are shit. Shit nobody wants to read. So how do you get people to read your awesome book when there’s so much sewage out there?

 

Enter the indie writer gurus. These are the people who have been in the scene for years now, have carved out a living from their writing, and teach others how YOU CAN DO IT TOO. Our heroes. The people we look up to, listen to, want to emulate.

Baseline? Your self publishing strategy should look like this:

  • WRITE, PUBLISH, REPEAT.
  • Write your first book.
  • Publish it. Set the price to zero $.
  • Distribute it as widely as you possibly can.
  • Advertise it over Facebook Ads.
  • Do giveaways to get even more people in front of your book.
  • While doing this, write the next book in that series.
  • Keep doing this for at least five or six books (two trilogies for example).

 

So, last year I was determined to do exactly what my gurus were telling me. Until suddenly, caught up in the middle of publishing, I found I wasn’t. Why?

First up, my credentials: at the time of writing this guest post I’ve been published 6 weeks. In that time I’ve sold 84 ebooks, and 4 print copies. And I’ve given a number of books away for free in exchange for reviews. However, Touch of Iron ranks pretty consistently in the 300/400’s (fluctuates a bit) in the category Dark Fantasy in the Kindle Store on Amazon.com. It has 16 reviews, averaging on 4.4 stars. Is that any good? I dunno really. It’s my first time. I think so. Here’s how I deviated from the Self Publishing Formula™

I started out like all others do: I wrote a book. Only I didn’t write in the preferred money-making genres of Romance or Thriller. Instead, I wrote a fantasy story. Grimdark even. In my defense, it was the story I wanted to read, needed to write. But, sheesh, fantasy? Ain’t no one got time for fantasy. Audience is too busy watching Game of Thrones.

 

So I wrote and tweaked until I was sure I couldn’t improve it anymore on my own. I didn’t publish it, though. Professional authors, the big names you love to read, well, the publishing houses that pay them … they also pay for editing those books. So I got myself an editor and listened to him.

Then I rewrote.

Then I paid for beta readers who weren’t related or befriended to me. At all. I randomly picked a handful of beta readers on Fiverr.com.

Of course Mummy loves your book, sweetie. Here, have some coffee.
Of course Mummy loves your book, sweetie. Here, have some coffee.
Then I rewrote.

 

You know what other service publishing houses pay for? Copyeditors. These are the people who check your manuscript line by line for your grammar errors, typos, and language glitches. Got me one of those, too.

I made changes accordingly.

But see, I still hadn’t hit that publish button. A weird compulsion drove me to diverge from the pattern the gurus had laid out so neatly, and instead adopt a marketing strategy as though my book were traditionally published.

You know who else publishing houses hire? A proofreader. Someone new to the project to read over the entire body of work and check everything. Every-fucking-thing. So I paid for one of those.

I made changes accordingly.

So, I’ll stop here, but I hope you’re seeing the pattern: I paid for quality control. In fact, I’m paying a lot for quality control. On what should be a free, scatter-it-to-the-wind kinda book. Why? Remember that foolproof marketing strategy, Timandra? It really does work, you know.

Yes. It worked three years ago, and probably will work for a bit longer. But not forever.

It’s pointless to follow guidelines when everyone is still making it up as they go along. So maybe you too have to make it up as you go along.

There are two basic ways to market your self published book.

One is quantity.

This is what has become the Self publishing Code. You produce the best book you can as fast as you can. You’re gonna give it away, remember? Besides, you can easily upload an updated, typo free-er version later on. Change the suck-y cover. The point is to get your shit out there fast. Outshit the others, so to speak.

But …

I can’t. I have one demanding day job, two lively, young kiddos to parent, a husband who does occasionally yearn for my attention, and I already sleep less than 5 hours most nights (it’s 00.03 AM and I’m jittering on my 4th cup of coffee as I write this). There’s no way I can outshit the others by writing quantity.

So what else could I do? The gurus had no answer.

I was in the middle of publishing and realized I had to figure it out on my own

Scary, but it boils down to this: quality.

Granted, the product I’m selling won’t appeal to everyone. I don’t want it to. But it is the highest possible quality I could pay for, and I believe there’s an appreciative audience out there waiting for those kind of books. Sure, I’ll have to wait longer for my single book to earn me back the cost. I’ll have to take longer writing the next book in the series, because it too must attain to my set standard of quality. I’ve involved a lot of other professionals in my venture. They each have their own schedules and can’t work faster than they already are. Also, I want to keep this writing business up for a long time, my whole life preferably. There is no (Kindle Gold) rush.

Summing up, I’m not doing it according to the Self Publishing Formula™. I messed up the guidelines. (I’m sorry, guys. It’s not you, it’s me!) I improvised, I binge studied the night before, and frankly, on some days simply bluffed my way through it all. So …

5 Useful Guidelines When Self Publishing:

#1 Write the book you want to read.

#2 Make it the best you can. Get an editor already.

#3 Nothing beats word of mouth. You need reviews. So … hustle with the book bloggers out there. Hustle hard.

#4 Most of all in self publishing: you ALONE are responsible. Take the advice out there, but make things work for you. The industry is ever changing. No one even knows what’ll be the deal next year, let alone in five years time.

#5 Write the next book you want to read. No one will do it for you.

 

Resources:

My gurus:

Sean Platt & Johnny B Truant with Dave Wright: Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) (The Smarter Artist Book 1)

amazon

Nick Stephenson, Supercharge Your Kindle Sales: Simple Strategies to Boost Organic Traffic on Amazon, Sell More Books, and Blow Up Your Author Mailing List (Book Marketing for Authors 2) amazon

Mark Dawson, Facebook Advertising for Authors www.selfpublishingformula.com

 

My beta readers and proofreader: www.fiverr.com

 

My editors:

story: http://harrydewulf.com

copy: http://www.bookflydesign.com/editing/

About Timandra Whitecastle

Tim Whitecastle

Timandra is a self-confessed nerd and a writer of fantasy. She is a mother to two children and balances this with her writing AND a day-job!. Her debut novel Touch of Iron was released recently and is also an entry into the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) hosted by Mark Lawrence. The book has already been voted into second place for best cover by the adjudicating bloggers (it is seriously cool) and it’s easy to see why!

11 random things about Tamara:

  1. Best ISTJ of all times? Batman.
  2. I was born in Germany, but on British ground. (Interesting 1980’s legal technicalities.)
  3. I hate pizza. It is known.
  4. My favorite reading genres are Fantasy and Cook Books.
  5. In my class, I was the geek. (We were over twenty girls and only six boys. No one ever dated.)
  6. I used to play Everquest II online, but then … (wait for it!) I took an arrow to the knee.
  7. I sometimes use the TV as a babysitter AND promise my kids dessert if they eat their dinner.
  8. My goal in life is to leave behind as little as possible that my children have to throw away.
  9. I mostly eat a paleo diet. Except when I’m on the stuff-your-face-with-chocolate-diet. Then I don’t do paleo.
  10. I studied Literature at University. Finally I got to read as much as I wanted. And more. It was great.
  11. Now I’m a teacher for English as a Foreign Language. Basic principle? Message before accuracy!

My book: Touch of Iron (Click the image for the link)

touch of iron cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Tim (in a super non-creepy way. No, you can’t have her address)

Website: http://timandrawhitecastle.com/

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Book Review – Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga #1) by Steven Kelliher

Book Review – Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga #1) by Steven Kelliher

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

The book blurb;

‘For hundreds of years, the flame-wielding Embers have been the last line of defense against the nightmare creatures from the World Apart, but the attacks are getting worse. Kole Reyna guards Last Lake from the terrors of the night, but he fears for his people’s future.

Continue reading “Book Review – Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga #1) by Steven Kelliher”

GIVEAWAY – Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden

Hi all, I am very happy to announce that I have another giveaway to run on my blog 🙂 this time, it’s for ‘Killing Pablo’ by Mark Bowden, the description of which can be found below;

‘A tour de force of investigative journalism, Killing Pablo tells the story of the violent rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar’s criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage in a reign of terror that would only end with his death.

In an intense, up-close account, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes details never before revealed about the covert sixteen-month manhunt that was led by US Special Forces and intelligence services. With unprecedented access to important players – including Colombian president Cisar Gaviria and the incorruptible head of the special police unit that pursued Escobar, Colonel Hugo Martinez – as well as top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar’s intercepted phone conversations, Bowden has produced a gripping narrative that is a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world.’

So for all of you ‘Narcos’ fans out there, this will be a real treat!

To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is retweet this tweet (https://twitter.com/dannygokucross/status/776086278710370304), it’s as easy as can be!

Unfortunately, this competition is open only to UK residents, sorry, it’s not my fault, I promise! But, if you’re interested in buying the book, it can be found here: http://amzn.to/2ciWu3U

The closing date of the competition is 29th September 2016.

And last of all, good luck 🙂

*BLOG TOUR* For the Love of Grace by Andy Blackman

andy-blackman-cover Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour of Andy Blackman’s ‘For the Love of Grace’!

Here is a little about the book (and the blurb, of course);

Grace Backer had a life full of tragedy. But despite everything, she raised her son, Tom, with her secret intact. Tom is a prodigal child, destined to escape the slums of the East End of London for a better life; circumstances will make him flee his loving mother and their home much sooner than expected.

‘Tom starts a new life in Odessa, Russia, and with the help of new-found friends starts a business. At last, he is finally accepted into a new and loving family, but one which holds its own dark secrets. A chance meeting with the son of a duke of the realm leads to close friendship and a new business partnership. When Tom decides to move his company to London and have his regal new friend run it, the firm thrives. However, not everything is as it seems, and Tom’s business soon conceals dangerous secrets of its own.

Years later, when Tom finally decides to return to London, he is a wanted man, one hunted by the intelligence agencies. If he is finally to be reunited with his beloved mother and his best friend, he must fight to put the past behind him. But keeping secrets is never easy.’

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it wasn’t what i thought it would be. Let me explain…

When you start reading this book, it seems like a real slick thriller that is full of action, acronyms, and alliteration pretty women. But this isn’t, it’s so much more. What I think the author has done well is he has given this story some heart, and this creates a foundation for the characters, and as a result of this, you start to really find yourself enveloped in their world.

The portrayal of mid-war London and of the ‘Motherland’ is just enticing. The scenes are set very well, and without the need for useless, endless description and with a sure hand. the streets of London are immediately vivid in your mind and the lives of the people living there feel so familiar. They are heavily affected by the war and they all suffer their loves, and their losses. The war is not lost within this book and provides a great backdrop for the story.

The characters are one of my favourite things about this book, and their respective journeys are winding and long. Grace is the adoptive mother of Tom, the story’s protagonist, and her story contains many losses, many through her devotion to her son. What i liked about Grace is her willingness to provide him with the best life possible, and her enduing faith in him. This love that is shown for Tom shapes him and his decisions, the continuity throughout the characters is perfect.

Tom is a character who I warmed to immensely. He is one who hasn’t yet realised his brilliance, but when he does, wow, he really does. With a brilliant mind and an eye for business, Tom is just fantastic. I also enjoyed how he was made to be  shadowy, threatening character through the eyes of the authorities, but actually, you already know him, and you know how his experiences have shaped him.

I really enjoyed reading this book and you can count me in for Andy Blackman’s next story!

Rating

4/5

Where to buy ‘For the Love of Grace’: (click the image for the link)

amazon waterstones-logo barnes-and-noble-logo

 

In Memoriam: David Gemmell 1948-2006

In Memoriam: David Gemmell 1948-2006

On July 28th, 2006 the man who had single-handedly ignited my passion for fantasy fiction, sadly died, at his computer, in the middle of writing his final piece of work Troy: Fall of Kings.

David Gemmell’s first novel was Legend and introduced us all to Druss the Legend, a seasoned warrior who carries a double-headed axe named Snaga. Legend tells the story of the battle for Dros Delnoch and the Drenai army who are defending the walls. My favourite thing about this novel is the way that Gemmell deals with the minutiae of the characters, their hopes, their dreams, and their grim reality. Each character is fleshed out and real, the action is delivered at breakneck speed and the war is almost tangible. This is something that Gemmell managed to do within each of his 32 fantasy books. He dealt as much with the characters as he did with the worlds he created. Each of his characters are products of their world and are examples of the ‘greyness’ of humanity, they aren’t cut and dry, there is no black and white here. Koen Peters sums this up brilliantly;

‘Gemmell’s characters are always struggling with their inner demons. Past mistakes, hubris, greed, you name it. Yet in spite of these ‘flaws’, the protagonists fight for what they think is right.’

via geofftaylor-artist.com
via geofftaylor-artist.com
Gemmell’s own view of humanity is easy to see and this is reflected in all of his works. However, the world building is also a feature of Gemmell’s works. I love the world in which the Jon Shannow novels take place and the physical features of this. The gunslinger was foreign territory to Gemmell in terms of the physical nature of the warfare, where before he had dealt in mass war, and hand-to-hand combat, now he was dealing in new-age machinery and warfare. The change as something I enjoyed greatly, particularly the ideas behind the Sipstrassi novels.

Gemmell then moved into the historical fiction side of fantasy and wrote the Troy Series. These, for me, are when Gemmell was at his greatest. Gemmell focused on the characters and themes from Homer’s The Iliad and focuses on the events and characters taken from the poem. Gemmell played around with the characters and out his own spin on them, for example, Paris is studious and shy, and Helen of Troy is plain in appearance. I loved this unique take on the ever-famous characters and with Gemmell holding the pen, it’s hard not to fall in love with them. Achilles and Hector are given new life and felt really ‘fresh’ to me. I loved them both and really was swept along for the ride as their destinies were soon to entwine. My favourite pairing though, is Helikaon and Odysseus. Their relationship journeys from the loving, to the warring, to the regretting, something that every intense relationship will encounter. Gemmell does this with such authenticity and humanity that you really feel their hurt and their loss, it’s just brilliant.

Gemmell loved the idea of humans and heroes battling internally with what they want to do versus what they think they should do. Feeling this as the characters do will make you realise just how good Gemmell was when it came to exposing our true nature. He gave his heroes tough choices and ensured that they weren’t given an easy ride as they made them. I mean, in reality, who does? We are all faced with tough choices at some point or another and we all have to make a decision that does not rest easy on us and that we aren’t sure was the correct one. This is humanity, and this is what Gemmell cut his teeth on.

He also gave us lessons throughout his work, there are many different quotes and sections that I could pull in order to highlight this point, but, for now, I’ll choose my favourite;

‘Danyal was awake, her lip swollen and a bruise on her cheek. Caymal sat beside her. The wagon was cramped and the baker’s two young children were sleeping beside Danyal.

‘Thank you’, she said, forcing a smile.

‘They will not trouble you again.’

Caymal eased himself past Waylander and climbed out over the tailboard. Waylander moved up to sit beside Danyal. ‘Are you hurt?’ he asked.

‘No. Not much anyway. Did you kill them?’

‘Yes.’

‘How is it you can do these things?’

‘Practice,’ he said.

‘No, that’s not what I meant. Caymal tried to stop the man…and Caymal is strong, but he was brushed aside like a child.’

‘It is all about fear, Danyal. Do you want to rest now?’

‘No, I want some air. Let’s walk somewhere.’

He helped her from the wagon and they walked to the cliff face and sat on the rocks.

‘Tell me about fear,’ she said.

He walked away from her and stooped to lift a pebble.

‘Catch this,’ he said, flicking the stone towards her. Her hand snaked out and she caught the pebble deftly. ‘That was easy, was it not?’

‘Yes,’ she admitted.

‘Now if I had Krylla and Miriel here, and two men had knives at their throats and you were told that if you missed the pebble they would die, would it still be easy to catch? Think of those times in your life when you were nervous, and your movements became disjointed.

‘Fear makes fools of us all. So too does anger, rage and excitement. And then we move too fast and there is no control. You follow me?’

‘I think so. When I had to give my first performance before the King of Drenan, I froze. All I had to do was walk across the stage, but my legs felt as if they were carved from wood.’

‘That is it. Exactly! The onset of fear makes the simplest of actions complex and difficult. No more so than when we fight…and I can fight better than most because I bring all my concentration to bear on the small things. The pebble remains a pebble, no matter what hangs upon success or failure.

‘Can you teach me?’

‘I don’t have time.’

‘You are not obeying your own mantra. This is a small thing. Forget the quest and concentrate on me, Waylander – I need to learn.’

‘How to fight?’

‘No – how to conquer fear. Then you can teach me to fight.’

‘Very well. Start by telling me what is fear?’

‘An ending.’

‘Make it worse.’

‘Maggots and grey rotting flesh?’

‘Good. And where are you?’

‘Gone. Finished.’

‘Do you feel anything?’

‘No…perhaps. If there is a paradise.’

‘Forget paradise.’

‘Then I feel nothing. I am no longer alive.’

‘This death, can you avoid it?’

‘Of course not.’

‘But you can delay it?’

‘Yes.’

‘And what will that give you?’

‘The prospect of more happiness.’

‘But at worst?’

‘The prospect of more pain,’ she said. ‘Old age, wrinkles, decay.’

‘Which is worse? Death or decay?’

‘I am young. At the moment I fear both.’

‘To conquer fear, you must realise that there is no escape from what you dread. You must absorb it/. Live with it. Taste it. Understand it. Overcome it.’

‘I understand that,’ she said.

‘Good. What do you fear most at this moment?’

‘I fear losing you.’

He moved away from her and lifted a pebble. Clouds partly obscured the moonlight and she strained to see his hand.

‘I am going to throw this to you,’ he said. ‘If you catch it, you stay – if you miss it, you return to Skarta.’

‘No, that’s not fair! The light is poor.’

‘Life is not fair, Danyal. If you do not agree, I shall ride away from the wagons alone.’

‘Then I agree.’

Without another word he flicked the stone towards her – a bad throw, moving fast and to her left. Her hand flashed out and the pebble bounced against her palm, but she caught it at the second attempt. Relief swept through her and her eyes were triumphant.

‘Why so pleased?’ he asked.

‘I won!’

‘No. Tell me what you did.’

‘I conquered my fear?’

‘No.’

‘Well, what then? I don’t understand you.’

‘But you must, if you wish to learn.’

Suddenly she smiles. ‘I understand they mystery, Waylander.’

‘Then tell me what you did.’

‘I caught a pebble in the moonlight.’

– David Gemmell, taken from Waylander (1986)

His fictional heroes include Olek Skilgannon, Druss the Legend, Waylander and Connavar. They are all an ode to David Gemmell and his brilliance.

I consider myself very lucky to have been introduced to his various works and I have read each of them multiple times. What Gemmell has done for fantasy is immeasurable. He has introduced a style of writing that incorporates all of the necessary fantastical elements whilst ensuring that those reading them can do so with enjoyment, enthusiasm and ease.

David Gemmell lives on through his works, and I hope people continue to buy, and read, his stories. Also, there is the annual ‘Legend Awards’ which highlights the best upcoming and established fantasy writers, as well as those that have the best cover designs.

Thank you for reading ‘In Memoriam: David Gemmell 1948-2006’, I hope you enjoyed it. Please comment and let me know what your favourite David Gemmell book is, and why 🙂

 

Author Interview – Michael R. Miller

HI guys and gals! So, I was lucky enough to get a copy of The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller for the purposes of a review, and I was even luckier that he agreed to do an interview with me! If you haven’t yet read The Dragon’s Blade (and really, you should) it is available now on AmazonWaterstones, and Barnes & Noble. I loved this book (my review is available here) and I think you would too.

The book and its blurb;

via: iamselfpublishing.com
via: iamselfpublishing.com
‘Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.

Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon’s Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons and fairies has fractured.

Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging…’

About the author;

Michael was born and raised in Ayrshire in the West of Scotland. Being useless at kicking a football around, he often resorted to imagining tales of magic and adventure in which he and his classmates would battle to save the school during their lunch hour. Fortunately for all, such embarrassing tales never made it out of his head and onto paper.

Like many young boys he quickly developed a love for daring knights who battled evil. When this was combined with endless hours playing Age of Empires and watching Lord of the Rings, a love for both history and fantasy was born.

He studied History at the University of St Andrew’s, dabbling in everything from Ancient Rome to Modern Scotland and a good deal of things in between. Graduating in 2014 he moved to London to pursue law and somehow decided it was a good idea to start writing a fantasy epic at the same time.

Let’s dive right in, I ain’t got time for niceties 🙂

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What/who was your inspiration for The Dragon’s Blade?

It’s hard to boil it all down to one single creative spark but it all began with the sword. The Dragon’s Blade popped into my head, at least in terms of its look, when I was about nine years old on the way home from seeing Monsters Inc. It’s a strangely vivid memory. Throughout the years it has been a constant, even when so much else changed, and the legendary weapon I wanted my main character to use. A world and story has slowly built up around it.

As for Darnuir himself, it was a combination of inspiration from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a philosophy question on memory loss and replacement, and the broad idea of exploring nature vs nurture.

Now that is an answer that begs more questions! So Darnuir is a man whose journey has been nothing short of unique and makes for very interesting reading. In terms of the ‘world’ that you created, did that form over a period of time, or did you already know what it would look like?

Like the story, the world building came in bits and pieces over the years. The plot, characters, setting and magic system all grew organically with each other. However, the map was in my head in a vague form for a very long time even if the finer detail wasn’t added until more recently. There was always going to be ten important mountains that tied together with the world’s magic and growing up on the coast of Scotland, with a mountain island that I looked out to every day, the roots of that aren’t hard to find. Even when I moved out for university I was still near the sea. Making the world essentially one enormous island with lots of mountains, cold snows, marshes and long summer days felt natural to me. I discovery write a fair amount of the time and so I have added bits and pieces to the world as I’ve gone along. The town of Torridon, for example, with its large crannogs out on the loch and oversized smoke houses, was added on the fly as I was writing. Characters and plots were about to converge and I needed somewhere for that to happen and it happily turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the whole book.

Mine too! So, from one fantastical world to another; the mysterious world of self-publishing… What persuaded you to self-publish your work instead of going down the traditional publishing route? Was it an easy choice or was there some deliberation process for you?

I’ve always liked to take charge and soldier on with something I’m interested in. Self-publishing appealed to me because I could move the book along quicker and at a pace I was happy with. As we know, traditional publishing generally takes a long time to break into. I was proud of my book and felt it had a strong premise on which to market it to readers. I felt that if I could make this first trilogy a relative success by myself then I’d have the experience, knowledge and confidence to approach a larger publishing house one day. Or perhaps I will remain indie. We’ll just have to see. It certainly wasn’t an easy choice. By going indie you are essentially giving up the idea of getting into most bookshops and will likely avoid an audiobook due to the high cost of quality production. I listen to a lot of audiobooks so that was a tough one for me. If I’m lucky I might be able to sell those rights one day.

Traditional publishing can seem cold from the outside – I wrote a piece on the London Book Fair to that effect – but everyone I’ve met who works in it has been incredibly open and friendly. The SFF community is especially welcoming. To anyone who is considering self-publishing I think you have to be honest with yourself as to what your goals are and what is important to you. If you desperately want your book on the shelves then going indie probably isn’t right. If, on the other hand, the idea of taking the reins and being more agile in things like prices and giveaways, and having the final say in everything, does, then consider it further. There are many excellent sites and books out there for better information such as those from Joanna Penn and Ben Galley.

Thanks for that Michael, I’m sure that will have given the budding authors out there some food for thought when it comes to the indie v traditional publishing debate. One positive of publishing your own works, is, of course, that you can participate in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) 2016. It’s fair to say that The Dragon’s Blade has gone down a treat, especially the cover! How did you feel when you saw that The Dragon’s Blade had won best cover at SPFBO 2016? Also, what made you decide to enter into SPFBO 2016?

 The cover has certainly gone down a treat – I’ll keep all my fingers and toes crossed for the book itself! I was genuinely taken aback when I saw the results because Timandra Whitecastle’s Touch of Iron was in the lead on the blog vote right until the end. I got very lucky to have such an incredible cover and can only hope the book lives up to the expectation it creates.

The honest answer for entering the SPFBO is the hope of getting some reviews from well-respected bloggers, if The Dragon’s Blade makes the final. I wasn’t aware of the competition until mid-way through last year’s contest. I met Ben Galley at the British FantasyCon and he educated me on the matter. After that, I followed it closely and hoped the opportunity would come up again. Aside from the chance for great exposure it brings the indie community together and lets both readers and authors discover each other in a way we might not otherwise have done. I really do hope it becomes an annual event.

As a reader, I too hope SPFBO becomes an annual competition! So where next for Michael R. Miller? How is the second book coming along? Have you got a release date slated yet?

Ah the second book…I keep promising people I am nearly finished, and I am, but it has been more difficult than the first. Second album syndrome? It will pick up right where book one finished and it’s pretty jam packed. I won’t give a precise release date yet but we’re looking at January 2017. Most importantly I want to get it right so if I need a bit more time I will take it.

 Other than that I want to keep promoting the first book as much as possible and see about picking up some work in publishing in London.

Thank you very much Michael!

So there you have it, the ideas and the creative process behind The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King. I loved doing this interview and I felt that I could really get into his head and find out what made him tick while he was writing this.

I hope you enjoyed this interview,it  it was my first so there will be some ‘clunkiness’ in and around the place (the interview) but I have a few more lined up and hope to share them with you soon.

As ever, thank you for reading. I would be most appreciative if you could hit the little ‘share’ button to whatever social media you prefer, because, well, you know, sharing is caring *cringe*

THANKS 🙂

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, lend me you ears (or thoughts to be exact)

Hello, and a Happy Monday 🙂

Recently I have been checking over my blog and the content that I’ve posted since I started my little blogging venture in March of this year. I’ve come to the decision that I’d like to do something a little more interactive.

I love the idea of reviewing books in the form of a video, say a YouTube video. I do have a channel but as yet I have only subscribed to other people’s videos. However, there a few things that I am unsure about, here are the pro’s and the cons.

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Pro’s

  • It is fun and interactive
  • I can mess around with editing software
  • I can meet loads of new people
  • I could become and overnight internet sensation and make loadsa money *ahem*

Cons

  • Will I just end up looking like an amateur bag of s&*t?
  • I have a north east regional dialect, will people actually understand me?
  • Am I interesting enough to warrant 5 minutes of viewing?
  • Are people actually interested in video book reviews?
  • Will my face fit?
  • Will I have to do my hair? (I hate doing my hair)

This is not just an exercise in self-loathing, I promise. These are genuine fears. I mean, I think I’m interesting enough but does anyone else? I suppose I’ll never know until I’ve tried it. Please let me know what you think, all opinions and thoughts are welcome. Do you have any tips before I embark on this little venture?

As always, thank you 🙂

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