Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Writing. Getting Comfortable.

When writing my books I enjoyed getting in the mood, or being in the mood. When reading Lord of the Rings in my late teens, I loved listening to mood music. My favorites were Mike Oldfield's Ommadawn, Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge. For some reason these captured Tolkien's tales beautifully and even today, when I hear these albums, I remember scenes from Lord of the Rings.

Writing was the same, and listening to Enjya, as example, sent me into the world I had created. It was like slipping on a comfortable jumper, my mood immediately turned to inhospitable lands, tall tales and heroism.

I also wrote on journeys and mainly trains. Something about a train helped me slip into other worlds. Whether it was the rocking of the train, the rhythm of the wheels or escaping the boredom of the journey, I am not sure. But again I found it very easy to write in these conditions. Unfortunately, I wrote on paper and when my manuscripts were completed my poor wife had to transfer this work onto a PC. My most creative moments came when driving. Not having a pencil and paper forced me to consider plots at great length. My Eureka moments often came in cars.

It is so important being able to slip into the mood for both writing and being in your own plot line. Make sure your PC/laptop is in a comfortable spot. The lighting needs to be good. The chair comfortable and a fresh cup of tea or coffee at your side. Go light on cake and biscuits though as sitting still doesn't help to burn calories. Music is a great help, but softly and in the background.

Once set, let free the brakes of life's drudgery and let slip the launch of your imagination. Great stuff.

Friday, 28 April 2017

So, How Would You Feel if Someone Shot at You?

About ten years ago, I was out at for the evening in a pub at Rochester. I left at about nine-thirty (not the morning!! No, I don't have a problem) and was walking towards the car which was parked on the esplanade. It was a dark winter's night, which was a lucky thing as I was wearing a thick winter coat. Crossing the road, the castle, an impressive Norman castle built in the 12 C overshadowed me; it was quite creepy at that time of night and it felt like eyes of long dead Normans watched my every move. The castle had been very active and had suffered under many a siege.

Perhaps it was my gloomy thoughts, but then I felt a thud against my jacket and a pain in my right shoulder. My first thought was air rifle. I turned, as the shot had clearly come from behind me. My blood was up. How dare someone take a potshot at me! My rage overcame commonsense, as facing the shooter, even an air rifle, was pretty stupid; a pellet in the eye would permanently blind me.

The castle wall, at least what remains, is atop a steep embankment. Black on black greeted my gaze. The streetlights didn't help that high up. I scanned the cars in case the shooter was behind one of these when another crack suggested another shot. A miss.

"Come down, if you are brave enough," I shouted, looking up and scanning the wall. Nothing. Just silence. "Cowards!" I fairly screamed.

I didn't have a mobile phone, so I ran to a phone box and called the police. "Stay there," said the officer. About 10 minutes later I heard a siren, a long way from where I was. I was confused as to whether to wait at the phone box or not, but the siren didn't seem to be coming my way. I raced back to the esplanade to see a police care someway ahead and I chased it. Whether the officer saw me in the rear-view mirror or stopped to try and negotiate a busy main road, I do not know.

Panting I came alongside and tapped on the window. "You here about the air-rifle?" I asked. and the passenger cop nodded.

"I think they are in the castle grounds," I said, pointing.

"We'll drive around and see what we can find," he replied. It was much warmer in the car than out, given the time of year.

"That's no good," I said. "They are in the grounds. I can show you where to get in and I'll help," I offered.

Unfortunately they insisted on driving around in comfort rather than getting into the castle grounds. A feat that is possible, as clearly the shooter had managed it and the walls around the other side are much lower.

That was it. All the way home I was in a rage, cursing the gits who had shot at me. The next day I phoned the police but the desk sergeant was very blase. "We get a lot of air-rifle incidents, usually against animals." (That's not what you want to hear). "I tasked a dog and handler to search for the firing point and they couldn't find one, so there's nothing we can do."

I had already worked that out. Looking for a firing point wouldn't result in finger prints or the perpetrator - they had long gone. I was annoyed that the officers the night before hadn't found anyone, and had been so reluctant to get into the castle grounds. I was also peeved that air-rifle incidents seemed so common. What sort of world are we living in? I suppose the same one as idiots who think it's fun to shine lasers at incoming aircraft to blind the pilot!

A week later I was in the caste grounds and I went to the supposed firing point. The ground was strewn with BB pellets, so not an air-rifle but a BB gun. Still potentially nasty. So much for the police dog and handler not being able to find the firing point, I thought.

The shooter had probably become bored of shooting cats/dogs and had progressed to wanting to shoot at people. I wonder how far this trend has continued. Did he/they progress to real weapons? And why did they do this? Boredom? Fortunately the incident is in the past and I have managed to calm down. I wonder, though, how common this type of event is and why people do it?

Friday, 21 April 2017

That's the sort of luck you don't need. God rest his sole.

I had to re-dig the garden pond recently and I was not sure about what to do with the fish. One of them, a mirror carp, had grown ginormously (for a pond: probably a couple of pounds). He was a lucky fish and had survived the local heron, George. At one point I didn't even know I had this fish as my pond had been emptied by said heron.

After George's last foray, I didn't bother with fish for a while and then had a change of heart. After all, it's nice to wander down the garden and watch the fish. I gave up with carp though and bought goldfish. Each evening, I would feed them and was surprised by a great swirl of water on occasions. After a few months I realised I was seeing a fish' mouth and a big fish at that.

The mirror carp must have survived George's dinner party and it had become very shy. Also, being in an empty pond he had grown to epic proportions. I was very pleased and it was great to watch his occasional forays to the surface for food. However, when I re-dug the pond I didn't know where to put the fish. Then I realised I had a water butt, full of rainwater. That gets around the problem of chlorine n the water and when you fill a pond, it is best to let it stand for a few days and sunlight and time sorts out the chlorine.

So, in the water butt went the fish. Only one night later and the mirror carp was no more. Belly up and in the immortal words of Monty Python, this parrot, I mean mirror carp, was dead. My kids have never let me forget this and quite often quote, "Dad killed the fish."

More ignominiously, I buried the fish in the garden and must have buried it too shallow, as the next day and yes you guessed it, the local fox dug it up and ate it. God rest his sole; pardon the pun :)

A picture of my new stream: Ponds are great fun and harbour lost of wildlife and I'm certain fairies and hobbits often visit :)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Stonehenge Legacy: by Sam Christopher

The Stonehenge LegacyThe Stonehenge Legacy by Sam Christer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, not a fantasy book for a change, but quite a good read. It's along the lines of Dan Brown's da Vinci Code although few books (if any) quite match that level of writing and imagination. Nonetheless, this is interesting and set around Stonehenge. It's a thriller set in modern times and the female detective looking in to the case is believable and comes across well in both narrative and characterisation.


The tale is based upon the kidnap of a wealthy American girl and her parents' (both influential Americans) attempts to get her released. However, the kidnappers aren't interested in a ransom and the dark side of the tale is that the girl is to be part of a ritual. A very dark one at that. The race is on and the police must find her, however all but a minority of people understand that the case is not about ransom. The symbology and suspense works well with Stonehenge as a background.

On the minus side: the ending feels rushed.

View all my reviews

Book Review for The Gallows Curse: Karen Maitland

The Gallows CurseThe Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the plus side: very nicely written and set in the early 13C makes for an interesting tale. The author's handling of superstition is nicely done and I really liked the Mandrake's Herbal that precedes each chapter. The mandrake is pulled from the ground (as described similarly in Harry Potter tales) and is used for dark magic. How the mandrake is made is especially gruesome and appeals to both historical fiction and fantasy fans. Various herbs/plants are introduced and each has a dark side.

On the minus side: The tale was over long and not a great deal happens. I felt disappointed in the ending, having followed various characters to only find there is no real conclusion for many characters. If it was left open for a sequel, I may not bother having waded through such a long tale already.

Overall: I much preferred Company of Liars. That was a very quirky tale and although that was also quite a slow tale, I felt more engaged with the characters.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Book Reviews for Legacy of the Eldric: A Fantasy Tale

Legacy of the Eldric is pure escapism, a high fantasy novel that manages to entertain from beginning to end with an easy to read narrative, interesting characters and intelligent world building, I highly recommend this novel to any fan of fantasy fiction.

In Legacy of the Eldric he has certainly achieved his aim; the characters are memorable and the plot is fast-paced and exciting. It is an opening chapter in a series that I look forward to reading the mid and end parts to. This is solid fantasy; exactly what a fantasy doctor would order for those looking for an enjoyable escape from reality, fans of Tolkien, Hobb and Moorcock will love what they find here.Definitely recommended. 7.8 out of 10

The major players in this book had to slowly come together, form a group, and set off on a quest. The mythology, various landscapes plus other bits and pieces of worldbuilding needed to take place so the reader could acclimate to this new world. An abundance of familiar tropes were used but unlike some, tropes used intelligently do not bother me in the slightest. But then I still read and reread all of David Eddings' early books and they don't come any tropier. (Is that a word? If not it should be...) All in all I was impressed with how much story took place. Reviews 

Legacy of the Eldric is a book that's hard to put down.

By Yvonne S. on 26 Aug. 2016

Legacy of the Eldric is a book that's hard to put down as you're led through the twists and turns of the story. Well written with strong characters that develop with the plot. Can't wait to find out what happens next!

By kehs on 16 December 2008

Mystical tale filled with fantastic action scenes, dragons, 3 princes, wizards, astral travelling, demons and tree spiders! Burrows has written an amazing epic fantasy that will have you glued to the pages. The author is a fan of LOTR and his trilogy is in a similar vein, yet is filled with original ideas that are unique to Burrows. This amazing book and its sequels are a must read for all fans of fantasy lands and epic battle scenes.

A great read!

By Indigo Prime on 4 July 2013
I finished this book over a month ago but I have not forgotten how gripped I was by it. The story starts in an understated and unpretentious fashion but before you know it you're hooked! Kaplyn, the central character, is a likeable young man for whom the reader cannot help but feel some affection. He and his travelling companion, Lars, gain more depth and personality as their characters mature through their many challenges and experiences. There's never so good a lesson as one learnt through hardship and adversity. This book provides the young men with plenty of opportunity for learning life's lessons.

As well as developing compelling characters, David Burrows treats his readers to a great story. It is so good to find a book where you can't guess what will happen next!

I found it difficult to put the book down, then was cross with myself for not making it last once I'd finished it! I recommend this book, but be warned; you'll be reaching for the second book in the trilogy as soon as you've finished this one!

Really enjoyed it, clever story

By Ian T on 11 July 2013
It was suggested to me that reading fantasy fiction probably wasn't for me, but I really found myself drawn in to this book. The fact is that most people read this sort of book in their teens and this for me was a great kick to the imagination - very easy to immerse myself in.

What made it enjoyable was the depth of the story, which works on a few levels. There are subtleties peppered throughout that came together like a jigsaw puzzle about half way through the story and together with good main characters kept me interested.

I'm off to download Dragon Rider now to see how the trilogy develops.

A gripping read

By JonW on 16 Jan. 2012
The Legacy of the Eldric was a book I didn't want to put down. I always felt something exciting was going to happen on the next page. I enjoyed the development of the characters and the strong plot. The book ends in a way which makes you want to start the second book straight away.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Do All Writers Like Dressing Up?

Ever since I was a dalek (I'll explain later), I've like dressing up. As a child my favourite outfit was an American cavalry uniform straight from some John Wayne western. Once I was told to fetch my father from the pub, I was about 7 at the time -- honest, and I went in a dalek costume. I was a very serious Dr Who fan in those days.

Unfortunately dressing up seems to have become a thing over the years, firstly as a cadet at school and then in the Territorial Army.
Not satisfied with the modern army I switched to the Saxon (and later) periods and spent many a happy weekend killing Vikings, when they'd let me. Fighting is a brutal hobby and many injuries followed. Not quite sure which I preferred, the TA or the Saxons :)

One time, at a Saxon event in York, I said I'd meet my wife in BHS (a large department store) and I wandered in in full war gear carrying a very large shield and a nine foot spear. To my horror, turning around looking for my wife, I heard a ting. Looking around I was in the lighting section. With my spear and shield, each time I tried to turn it looked like I'd break a hanging lamp or some such. I was mortified and beat a hasty retreat.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of me being a dalek so I'll leave that one to your imagination. So, should I be proud of dressing up? It's always a bit of fun and certainly makes life interesting. I even managed to persuade my family to join me although that seems a long time ago now. Not sure which one of us was the cutest but I think I was high on the agenda :)