Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Invictus by Simon Scarrow: A Review - A Stunning Read

Invictus (Eagle, #15)Invictus by Simon Scarrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Scarrow is a reliable author but this is certainly one of his better books. It's been a while since I read a good page-turner and I managed to read this in a couple of days. It has everything in a book for a historical fiction (and most fantasy fans). There is political intrigue, numerous hard-case villains, battles and a great plot. Set in Spain ad with a silver mine at risk there is the hallmarks of a good tale. Not only does Scarrow deliver but there is a twist to the plot and the underlying politics wins out.

Spoiler - Julia's betrayal was hard to accept but I sense a carry on on this tale in a follow up novel. I bet she's not the villain she is made out to be.


View all my reviews

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Defiant Unto Death by David Gilman: A Review

Master of War: Defiant Unto Death (Master of War, #2)Master of War: Defiant Unto Death by David Gilman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to read about men clashing in heavy armour this is a good read. It does drop off after a great start and the tale fixates on domestic life. It is still readable but a bit slow. When it gets going again there is some great action. Set some years after the battle of Crecy it follows Thomas Blackstone's adventures. He was an archer at Crecy and for his actions, becomes a knight. The tale has its bitter sweet moments which make it all the better. However, I often heard myself saying foolish woman to one of the main characters as once again she puts herself in harms way. I will be reading the next installment.


View all my reviews

Writing Believable Stories, from a Reader's Perspective

It is harder than it seems to make a tale believable and hats off to fantasy writers who manage to achieve this despite fanciful creatures such as dragons, demons, elves etc. But, strangely, authors in other genres also sometimes fail to make their world believable. I have given up on several historical fiction books, because they simply don't feel right. A recent novel about Rome was written in a modern style and perhaps that was what the author intended, but for me that failed utterly. An Egyptian novel I read focused on a few main characters and didn't mention anyone else. It felt lifeless whereas a Wilbur Smith tales, set in the same period, had a cast of thousands and felt more believable for it. This was achieved in a few sentences, adding to the clamour of life.

In all writing, I feel that you should be able to see, smell and even taste the world that you are in. The author needs to translate their knowledge of, say, ancient Rome to the reader and that means following their characters through crowded streets, filled with everyday folk and with ex-gladiator guards  forcing passage for some high ranking noble, vendors screeching out their wares of Garum, pots and pans etc. and the smell of open sewers competing with that of roasted dormouse. The clothing, the food, the sights and again the smells are ways of convincing a reader that the tale is real. 

In the most challenging genre, fantasy, how then do authors achieve believable tails? In my view it is characterisation that often achieves this. Also, no tale should have an easy and obvious solution, like a wizard destroying everything in his path. Characters need to be vulnerable in some way. Gandalf in Lord of the Rings is a great example. He is a key character and yet he is flawed in so many ways, e.g. blind to Saruman's deceits and facing a balrog, his best defence being a spell to block a door; a simple and yet effective use of magic. There is never a fiery blast that destroys thousands.

Fantasy and Sci-Fi tales must have bounds and rules. Star Trek was awesome and the rules there were not too far fetched and some even have become common place in modern society. For example, communication devices that fit in the palm or lapel. The more extreme deviation from modern life were energy shields, Warp engines and matter transporters. Their description and manner of employment, however, made them convincing. Each technology had believable faults that we could relate to e.g. a planet's atmosphere interfering with comms, energy shields that could withstand only so many hits and drained power, and matter transporters that simply failed (as in being spliced - Harry Potter books).

In fantasy the same issues of vulnerability help to make the tale believable. In Lord of the Rings Smaug has a displaced scale, making him vulnerable while his insufferable ego and greed add to his character.

Having a well thought through history of your world also makes fantasy and Sci-Fi believable in the same way as historical fiction needs a background setting. For example, readers need to know why a battle is about to happen, or the politics of races that set them apart. Why, for example, did some races embrace Rome and yet some defy her?

Making tales believable is key to being a good author. I do hope that in my tale, the Prophecy of the Kings, I achieve that despite such strange creatures and settings.

Rome: A Fantasy Fan's Dream City

I went to Rome recently and loved it (apart from all the walking!!). Ancient Rome is everywhere and for me that has strong links to fantasy writing. With all their gods and superstition, Romans did nothing without consulting an oracle. (Not a job I would like: examining entrails for signs of a diseased liver.) Their gods were a dangerous and self-serving lot, demanding the best sacrifice and huge temples with columns that dwarfed any building that had gone before. 

Man finally lost himself in Rome's grandeur and emperors declared themselves gods, perhaps following Egypt's millennium-old example. Nero built a huge statue of himself and unfortunately the Colosseum replaced that. For all their mortal failings, declaring yourself as a god must be the height of power. And folly.

In my books I tried to capture ancient Rome's grandeur and more importantly mystery. In Britain, long after the Roman's departed, people must have looked on in wonder at the ancient remains of amphitheaters, temples and other grand structures. In an age of wooden buildings, Roman ruins must have seemed god-like and may have fired people's imagination. In ancient times, superstition was rife, and the embers of people's fear were likely to be fanned by ancient places dedicated to lost gods.

The Eldric are a race in my books who mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind the ruins of once proud cites. Their civilisation was like Rome's, far above that of the indigenous population. In my books the threat of demons adds to people's superstition and the fear of a demon materialising from the underworld, to seek souls for eternal damnation, is too great to be voiced and like Roman remains, gargoyles and symbols decorate the ruins as wards against evil.

Check out my novels at http://davidburrows.org.uk/

A view across the Tiber: Nero's mausoleum.
One of the many paintings decorating a church ceiling, Staggering.  


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.

Spoiler:

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. SFBooks.com

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 Fantasybookreview.co.uk

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.
Dragonsheroesandwizards.blogspot.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk 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 :)



Friday, 24 February 2017

Great Wall - Review: One for Fantasy Fans

I didn't see this sooner as the reviews were pants. Having seen it I was thoroughly entertained. It doesn't claim to be anything else other than a monster film and as a fantasy fan I was pleasantly surprised. The "things" are definitely monsters and bear no resemblance to dragons. It's along the lines of aliens in some respects as the things are thoroughly horrible and damned hard to kill.

It's set in 11 C China, I think, Mercenaries have heard of black powder and know it will make their fortune so they seek it out to take back to the West at any cost. However, at the Great Wall they get embroiled in an invasion and are tor between stealing the powder or helping in the conflict.

An enjoyable romp.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2034800/

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Losing a Contact Lens - What's Your Worst Moment?

My strangest experience losing a lens was when ice climbing Ben Nevis (Tower Gully). A friend, Andy, and I were climbing late in the season and occasionally you could hear a crack and whoosh as ice broke off. This was a grade 1/2 climb as there was a cornice, overhang of ice, at the top which we had to dig through.

I wasn't very experienced at climbing, but initially everything was great. I don't like heights, but the crampons and ice-ax made me feel secure and we climbed steadily for 30-40 minutes. I was wearing gas-permeable contact lenses and blinked just as some ice went in my eye and...pop...out went a lens.

"Hold on,Andy," I said. "I've lost a lens." Andy was above me and he dutifully stopped.

"You've lost it," he grumbled, pragmatically. "no chance of finding it now." He was from Yorkshire so a man of few words. We were, at this point, on a very steep slope (70 degrees) about one thousand feet above the ground. He was probably right, but as contact lens wearers are aware, lenses are too expensive to lose.

Looking around the slope I spotted the lens almost immediately to my front. It seemed glued to the ice and small particles of snow were being blown across the surface. I was terrified the lens would also blow away, but watching the small grains being blown over the surface was quite hypnotic. Fortunately, the lens was grey (the right lens is often grey to differentiate left (clear) from right) so it actually showed up quite well against the blue/white ice background. I looped my arm through the strap of the ice-ax which was reasonably anchored in the ice, took off my mitt and carefully extracted lens from surface, realising that it had actually frozen to the surface. Wow, incredibly lucky and saving me nearly £100. I put the lens back in and was ready for the climb.

Higher up and Andy yelled down that he had hit water-ice. This makes climbing very tough as the ice shatters when you strike with the ax which barely forms contact and certainly not enough to trust your weight to. We had to descend with the plan being to traverse across the slope and try again. This was awful. Looking between your feet at a thousand foot drop brings home the precarious nature of the situation and suddenly vertigo becomes very real, as does disco-knee. However, I realised I had no option, so overcoming my fear down we went.

I have never been so afraid. I realised just how vulnerable we were perched so high with a few millimeters of metal of the crampons and an ice-ax for purchase. Dropping about one-hundred feet, we traversed across and continued on up. Climbing up was less fearful, but after the recent scare my heart was beating for England!

The next heartache came near the summit. Andy had to borrow my ax whilst I sat inside the ledge beneath the overhang of ice. The view was incredible but very, very scary. Andy chipped at the cornice, making a tunnel for us to crawl through. He held on with one ax and chipped with the other. We managed to crawl through and upon gaining the summit we swiftly realised that we were standing on an overhang of ice a few feet thick and beneath that was a sheer drop. We moved very swiftly on to solid ground.

What an experience and what a tale to tell. Losing a contact lens and reinserting it on ice pitch. Incredible, but not for the feint hearted.


Andy and I in a White Out (Ben Vrackie I think). Andy looks cold!

Friday, 10 February 2017

If You Thought You Were Having a Bad day...

Hallam ducked beneath the blow, pushed his left foot forward, grunting with the effort and hacked sideways with his sword. Something hard hit his shield and if he hadn’t put his foot forward he would have overbalanced. The fight raged around him. Men and krell dying in their hundreds.
 Hallam screamed a war cry and pushed against the line of enemy, seeking to dislodge a foe and open up their shield wall. Krell pressed hard against his shield, hoping to achieve the same aim. “Hold the line,” he commanded, sensing a slight movement to his left. A line that went backwards was already defeated. A spear glanced off one of his greaves and he stamped down hard trying to snap the shaft. Warm blood flecked his face, causing him to blink. The copper stench in his nostrils nearly made him gag. “Push,” he yelled, trying to get his line forward.

The author pushed back the keyboard and leaned back. Time for a cuppa. He went to the kitchen and turned on the kettle, reaching in to the cupboard for a teabag. Humming softly, he filled the cup and stirred clockwise before settling on a couple of chocolate biscuits as a treat. Sitting in front of the monitor once more, he dunked a biscuit. He shivered and glanced at the thermostat.
“What the hell,” he muttered dialing up the warmth. His slippers were new and fur lined, a rare treat and kept his feet beautifully warm. Stig, an orange and brown cat mewed playfully to one side and the author tapped his leg, allowing the cat to jump up and settle on his lap, purring softly. Outside the sky threatened snow, but the author barely glanced that way.
Finishing his tea and smacking his lips the author settled down to create. His eyes focused on the monitor as he muttered, “Now, Hallam, what fresh hell can I create.”


Hallam groaned, recognising the fearful cry from the darkened sky above, “Grakyn,” he screamed, hoping that the archers to the rear could see in the half-light. The battle was going horribly wrong. He prayed to all the gods for a change in fortune.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Writing a book: Social Media, the Pitfalls

This is oversold in my opinion. Facebook has a limited catchment and if you believe other posts this is deliberate to make people spend on advertising. What I've heard is that Facebook messages don't even appear to all your contacts and it can the percentage of people who see your post can be quite low.

Twitter does seem more helpful and hashtags are very useful as these put your post on various lists. For authors the following hashtags are useful, but are not exclusive. I'm sure there are many more so feel free to add to this list.

#books #read #readthis #booklook #review #shortstory #bookreview #samplesnday #storyfriday #fridayreads #iartg #writertip #writingtip #selpubishing #kindle #freebook

However, Twitter posts scroll very quickly down the page so disappear  from view fast.

Aboutme is a useful page to have and people look at this site without doing to much work.


LinkedIn is mainly about seeking jobs, I think. I am on that but not very active on that forum. 

My blogs are setup to always post on Google+ but that is one site I rarely hear from.

Pinterest is useful but the information you can post is limited, unless I am doing something wrong.

I have not tried Instagram but a colleague who is a very active photographer uses it a lot. It's really about showing images and photography is good as you are getting new images to show frequently. Having a few book covers may not suit that media, in my view. For a fuller list of social media sites try here

My experience is that Social Media is nice to have but won't necessarily drive lots of people to your website. Facebook messages, for example, will appear in front of the same people over and over and it is likely that, unless the message changes, they will become bored of it. I haven't yet spent money on advertising on Facebook but from the response from other people it is not always money well spent. 

I am not advocating not using social media but pointing out that expecting instant traffic is unlikely and one problem is you can commit a lot of time to it for little reward. 

One irritation I have is there are lots of posts on the Internet about book marketing and many spout lists of things you must have such as an author's website and being active on social media. That is so easy to say and yet how to direct traffic from these sites is actually very hard and at that point the advice dries up.

Role Playing Games for Fantasy Fans

Path of exile comes recommended although it can be very frustrating, I've played others, Diablo I through to III, Guild Wars and POE is the only game I come back to.

If you are a fantasy fan and like finding new and better weapons then POE is a great starting point, It's well worth getting advise and on their website folk offer up example skill trees to follow. It's very complicated and the choice is excessive perhaps and makes for a challenging game. It can also be very frustrating. Many folk offer advise but it's usually half-thought out or wrong. There are soime real experts and finding these is essential.

Perhaps it is too complicated? The screen shot shows an example damage from one attack method. Achieving high damage is incredibly difficult and requires very expensive equipment that takes hours of game play to afford. Some bows, for example, cost 40 Ex and yet in going from level 1 to 89 I have only ever found 1. Trade is an essential part of the game but good equipment drops are far few and far between and making your own costs lots of Orbs of various types. As I say -- it's very complex.

Check it out at https://www.pathofexile.com/

The complex nature of POE.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

An Author Goes to Pot!

So what does an author do when not writing?

Well today was not a good example. I went metal detecting with a club, but it was -6 degrees C this morning and the car's brakes were frozen on. Not to be put off, I borrowed my wife's car so not a disaster. However, fog remained in the area all morning keeping the ground frozen. It was so bad that my spade bent almost double trying to dig. After a few hours I decided digging was almots impossible and so gave up.

And the rewards? A couple of old belt buckles and something possibly from a horse's harness.

The conclusion - remain indoors where it is warm and write!

Friday, 20 January 2017

My Two Top Romantic Fantasy Films: Does This Make me Soft?

OK, weird subject but what the heck. Weird in the sense that Fantasy ought to be heroes bashing goblins or at least slaying the odd dragon. Not that the dragon has to be loopy-odd, just rare-odd. Bringing romance into fantasy has its place of course and a hero rescuing a damsel in distress, such as in Shrek, has plenty of room for development.

My two top favourites are Beautiful Creatures http://www.warnerbros.com/beautiful-creatures and Stardust http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486655/. Groundhog Day sneaks in for comedy element as a distinct runner up.

I only saw Beautiful Creatures recently and whereas it's not alone and other films have followed this line, such as Twilight, I found Beautiful Creatures to be less pretentious and quite refreshing. The CGI magic sequences were very well done. The plot rocked along at a gentle pace and hooked me from the start. The characterisation was good and Jeremy Irons played a great role. I thought Alice Englert was suitably gorgeous to entrap a young man's heart.

My favourite film still remains Stardust. It's the rare occasion when a film is better than the book. The humour is well done and I'll always remember bubbling candles. The scene in the first fantasy market was great and showed tremendous imagination in the film makers' minds. Like Harry Potter's Diagonal Alley, I could wander around there for hours.

Great films and we want more.


Alice Englert as Lena Duchannes

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Sorcerer versus Wizard. Who would win?

Considered weak and ineffectual by sorcerers, a wizard's power comes from within them. Only those born with a "well" for magic inside of them can become a wizard. The deeper the well the stronger the wizard.

Sorcerers, however, are much more intriguing. Sometimes described as necromancers, they gain power through the spirit world. The simplest spells are cast using elementals, such as fire, water and air among others. More powerful magic is cast via demons and the lowest form of demon is an imp, a sly, small creature who carries plague for his more powerful cousins to reap ill in the world.

So which is the stronger? A wizard or a sorcerer.

That depends on the sorcerer's abilities. Most rely on elementals for their power, as dealing with demons, even imps, comes at a price. A minor slip and the demon will take your soul screaming to Hell. The strongest sorcerers have incredible abilities...if they dare tap into the power of the most powerful demons that is. Such a summoning is very complex and the sorcerer has to match the demons strength...or suffer the consequences.

However, Wizards are not as inept as sorcerers like to believe. A wizard with a kara stone can cast very strong spells as kara stones are a deep well for magic. Kara stones are very rare and only the most powerful wizards jealously guard them...with their lives.

This sets the scene for the Prophecy of the Kings. Throw dragons in to the melting pot and the land becomes very dangerous indeed. Follow Kaplyn as he strives to stay one step ahead of Vastra, a self professed sorcerer in a land where few now exist. Vastra, a bitter man with a dark secret for which he will kill to protect.

Find out more at http://davidburrows.org.uk/