Friday 8 December 2017

Writing a Book: The Importance of a Web Banner

It is useful having a web banner and this can double up as a banner on Facebook. Mine is 900x250 pixels, approximately. A web banner is an image so all the text is converted to an image. You can play around with lots of different fonts this way and these are displayed correctly as it is an image. Some fonts are not converted very well otherwise.

My final attempt was helped along by a colleague and I think he helped me create a much more atmospheric banner. As you can see we added atmosphere by having a woodland background and also by changing the font. I got the mage from an excellent free website

As opposed to the original

I hope you agree that the first is a definite improvement 😊 Your thoughts are welcome. My drawing package is Serif Drawplus 5 which is a bit dated now. 

Saturday 11 November 2017

Friday 10 November 2017

Are Men Doomed?

Dr Who -- a woman!! There goes my childhood. She doesn't even have that quirky dress sense that most Drs had.

To me Dr Who will always be William Hartnell. I didn't remember him very well as I was a bit too young, but it was his series that introduced the Daleks and they scared the begeebers out of me. The way people turned into skeletons when EXTERMINATED was awesome. It worked oddly well in black and white and perhaps less so in colour.

Anyway, if the world no longer needs a male Dr Who then are men doomed? Perhaps the Daleks weren't needed after all to destroy mankind. Love the boots though.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sky and outdoor

Wanton Destruction - Never Give a Man an Axe

Wow. I feel guilty. The axe was in my hand and what could I do? The shed had to go!

There's something strangely liberating about destruction. Is this a man thing? Is it because I may have Viking genes? The moment I started tearing into the shed, ripping it apart with a crow bar and smashing rotten planks with an axe, I felt like a marauding Mongol in one of Genghis Khan's armies. I should do this more often. The only problem is - there is only 1 shed left in my garden. Strangely, I sense that tremor each time I walk past. That didn't save the last shed though!

Shed murderer, I hear you say. Bring it on!

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Saturday 28 October 2017

Penny Dreadful. Oh Dear!

Season 1 for me was well...dreadful. It was long winded and dull. However Season 2 is far better. The tale of witchcraft has brought the series alive. This programme had all the hallmarks to be great with vampires, witches, monsters etc. However, Series 1 seemed to lack for a story line. It was as if the produces had thought, as an example -- let's do an episode on possession and the story line was pinched from The Omen. There were dull moments where too much emphasis was placed on convincing the audience about the passage of time.

However, in Season 2 there is much more action. I was worried though, that Frankenstein's female monster would be a rehash of previous tales but so far the tale is developing nicely along its own path. I like the way Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and other notary characters flit in and out of the tale. It's like meeting a long lost friend...or at east an unfriend, as these characters are so mixed up and likely to do you harm.

OK I am well behind most people on these Seasons but if you are like me and uncertain whether it is worth watching, it is worth a try.

FREE ebook: Drachar's Demons. A fantasy tale available from iTunes, NOOK and KOBO.

Drachar's Demons is available FREE from Nook, KOBO and iTunes. Click on the links below

There are some great reviews:
I enjoyed reading Drachar's Demons. It's one of the most enjoyable fantasy books I've read this year. Drachar's Demons is excellent and fast paced entertainment for fans of traditional fantasy books. If you like well written traditional fantasy with plenty of magic and action, you'll enjoy this book very much.

Monday 23 October 2017

Jack The Giant Slayer

OK, as far as Fantasy films out there this is a bit of hokum, but actually a good fun. The giants are definitely the best bit and quite a bunch of characters there are too. With their manners, you certainly wouldn't want one cooking your dinner; a little too like the trolls in the Hobbit.

It is the usual tale of Jack and the Beanstalk but with some twists. The cast is good on the whole although Ewan McGregor gets a bit annoying after a while with his plum-accent. Eleanor Tomlinson simpers through the role nicely, but her co-star, Jack - Nicholas Hoult, could have been better cast as he comes across too nerdy/whimpy.

As I say, the best bits belong to the giants and it is worth watching just for these. It's a bit like the Minions in steroids and with attitude. Good fun, especially how Jack deals with the giant chieftain. Awesome.

Monday 9 October 2017

For All Those Detectorists Out There.

“Why are you crying, Guthrum?” Alfrec asked.
Guthrum was a picture of misery, sitting amongst the hedgerow, his knees to his chest. His threadbare tunic damp from his tears.
“Dad is going to kill me,” Guthrum snivelled, wiping his nose with his sleeve.
“I won’t let him,” Alfrec replied and Guthrum choked on a half-sob, half-laugh.
“You are two years younger than me. If Dad beats me half to death how can you help?”
Alfrec looked down, his well-meant intent shining in his eyes. Guthrum regretted his reply and said, “You are brave to offer, but I have to face him myself.”
“What have you done?” Alfrec asked, sitting alongside his brother. The day was warm and the sky clear. It was almost pleasant sitting in the dappled shade.
“He gave me a penny to buy a chicken, but I lost the penny.”
“Where did you lose it?” Alfrec asked.
Guthrum snorted. “If I knew that I wouldn’t be sitting here.” Alfrec cast Guthrum a glance that suggested the reply was unhelpful.
“I had it in my pouch,” Guthrum said. “I stopped when I saw a hare and took out my sling, but the time I had my sling ready the hare had gone.”
“Empty your pouch and let’s check,” Alfrec offered.
Guthrum upended his pouch and his worldly belonging spilled out onto the damp grass.
“What’s that,” Alfrec asked pointing at one object.
“That’s a bat’s wing,” Guthrum said picking it up. “It brings me luck.”
“Well I would get rid of that. It clearly hasn’t helped.” Alfrec said. “No sign of the coin then. Can we steal a chicken?” he suggested hopefully.
“What and have my hand cut off? No thanks. There’s nothing for it, but to face Dad and take a beating as well as I can.”
Alfrec looked down, “You are braver than me. I’d run away before facing him.”
The two boys sat in silence, neither wanting to hurry toward the dreaded encounter.

Jack grinned. “Bloody hell,” he said with a whoop. His detector had given him a faint signal and now a glimmer of silver stood out in stark contrast with the black loamy soil. His fingers scratched at the dirt revealing more of the object.
“What u got,” Kev asked, coming over and laying his own detector down before removing his headphones.
“A hammered, I think.”
“Bloody hell, is right,” Kev said reaching out to take the object which now sat in Jack’s hand. “That’s a Saxon penny.”
Jack stood and promptly started his hammie-dance. “Oh yes! Oh yes!” he chortled as he circled round his friend.
Kev grinned, “Great find, mate. This’ll be find of the month.” Neither men gave a thought to the lad who had lost it and the beating he took from his irate father ad if Guthrum had been alive to see Jack’s hammie-dance, he would have groaned to see such peculiar cavorting by a grown man.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Bernard Knight's The Manor of Death

The Manor of Death (Crowner John Mystery #12)The Manor of Death by Bernard Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very entertaining but very slow. I didn't mind the slow read in some respects at it is a fascinating read and the author conveys 12 century England so very well. The tale (once again) involves boats and sailors, but has an interesting undercurrent from piracy. John de Wolfe is an absolute saint, I would have murdered his wife many times over. I love the tale being centered on Exeter and you can certainly recognise the cathedral and grounds and many of the road names rang a bell.

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Saturday 30 September 2017

Free ebook. Drachar's Demons. Fantasy by David Burrows

Drachar, banished by his own people, forges an unholy alliance with the demons. They demand one hundred thousand souls and only all out war will deliver so many and Drachar must seek allies. Meanwhile his people, the Eldric, must learn to counter the growing threat. Only the bravest sorcerer dare summon a demon, let alone learn to defeat one for failure will result in their soul eternally damned.

Download here:

David Burrows is the author of the award winning fantasy trilogy the Prophecy of the Kings (Gold Award 2010 and the prequel Drachar's Demons. Prophecy of the Kings was also Book of the Month on Sample chapters and reviews can be found at David's website

David has lived in Blackpool, Liverpool, Edinburgh and he now resides in the garden of England, Kent. He was a Captain in the TA (2/52 Lowland), an experienced mountain climber and more recently has taken part in Saxon/Viking re-enactment. David's fantasy writing has benefited from these real life experiences: hours slogging up and down mountains and fighting in a shield wall and although never maimed or killed, David has broken bones on several occasions, so the fighting at times has felt very real.

As with most aspiring authors, David's writing is part time, with the plots progressing in the evenings and holidays and also during his wife’s pregnancies. At times David's tales seemed to naturally take the characters into extreme peril, and for months he was left wondering as to their fate. Refusing to rewrite the tale to rescue them he patiently waited before inspiration struck and the story continued at a fast pace to the next cliff-hanger. Suffice to say David's two sons have now grown up and, as the quill dries, are of an age to read and appreciate this work and to develop their own writing. As to the characters in David's tales, they too have grown older and wiser; as to whether they survived the tale, only reading the novel will tell.

David hopes you take time to check out his works and enjoy them.

Friday 29 September 2017

Ha Ha. Facebook Ad.

This appeared on y Facebook page. And Facebook want me to pay to place this Ad?? What a bunch of numpties.

Isn't it rather missing the point? Or at least a picture!

Monday 25 September 2017

Author Interview: David Burrows

Who are your favorite authors?
Of course I love Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. My favourite of his works, however, is the Silmarillion. That's a truly a wide sweeping epic, spanning's a difficult book to get into but some of the tales are brilliant. I also like David Gemmel's Legend. That helped to inspire me to write. I loved Druss as a concept and he seemed to be so real. I enjoy reading and modern authors have added gritty reality to fantasy. I like Brent Weeks, Joe Abercrombie and George Martin in particular, but unfortunately these authors came too late to influence me. Although I enjoy the gritty reality in their tales, I still like traditional fantasy. A tremendous book I recently read was the War of the Fae by Elle Casey.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I read was probably Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars series. He wrote to a formula, the hero falls in love, The girl gets captured and the hero sets out through an alien world to find her. He also wrote Tarzan which are brilliant books. I also read Dune and Lord of the Rings and the latter certainly had the biggest impact, but i still have a soft spot for the Mars series. They were written in about 1910!!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up near Blackpool which was a great place to be, as a student. I had plenty of jobs in the area including; bingo calling, a horse racing game on the prom, theatre hand, working at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach, amusement arcade attendant, working on farms amongst others. They helped me to gain confidence and to people watch, to build characters for novels. The area was also close to the Lake District and I went mountaineering a lot, which helps writing scenes where characters travel over rough terrain and in inhospitable conditions. I was also in the cadets, TA. and a Saxon/Viking re-enactment society and that was truly epic in understanding fighting with a sword, shield and spear.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Drachar's Demons, is fantasy and is about an Eldric Lord called Lothanol. He is caught spying on the demon world and his people suspect he is trying to make a pact with the demons. In my book, sorcerers use the spirit world for their magic and elementals such as air, fire, water and earth are the basis of their power. Lothanol discovers imps (lesser demons) and he learns to increase his power. Through the imp, he also learns to summon more power via demons. They are incredibly difficult to control and the risks are immense. His people cast a spell on Lothanol and banish him. However, he influences their spell and the pact with the demons is made. He promises them 100,000 souls and only all out war will deliver so many. Drachar's Demons is the prequel to the Prophecy of the Kings.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting feedback from readers is brilliant. One lady said she slowed down when reading the final volume in the Prophecy of the Kings series, because she didn't want the tale to end. That's an immense compliment and made all the hard work worthwhile. Keep the reviews coming, it's amazing! I have some lovely reviews - have a look at my website
How do you name fantasy characters?
Writing is hard work and I find it especially difficult to create new names. Inspiration came when I decided to use the names of friends and family, but as anagrams. My favourite character is a witch in Book Two (Dragon Rider) called Ariome, an anagram of Moira, my mother in law’s name. I was in deep water when I happened to tell her what I’d done. Fortunately, she took it well and we do still speak to each other. Just.
How do you create your worlds?
Some of the ideas in my book came from our own history and periods that interest me. The main theme of my novel is a race of people called the Eldric. Their legacy was very much like the Roman legacy is to us, today. We have Roman ruins that tell of a dominant race of people who ruled at a time when most other societies lived in wooden buildings. I wanted to create a sense of wonder and of superstition. I achieved this using the Eldric's mysterious disappearance and the cyclic demon threat that occurred every 500 years. This made the people’s superstitions real, but vague as they didn’t record their history. I also looked to our Saxon heritage where people were much more likely to believe in imps, fairies and dragons as they lived so close to nature. I liked that sense of naivety. We all have a huge sense of wonder that stems from our childhood and I wanted to capture that, but in an adult world.
What do you want your readers to feel and think about you books, what is your goal?
That’s back to creating a deep sense of wonder and superstition. I wanted the books to be creepy, with a real sense of loss. The main character, Kaplyn, is taken to the very brink of despair, but he manages to keep going. The final battle certainly hangs in the balance and frankly could have gone either way in my mind. My goal was to create a sweeping tale that was more than a little bitter sweet.
At what age did I start writing?
The original idea for the tale came to me when I was about 17. However, at that time I only wrote a few pages. A friend asked to see them and then nagged me every time we met as to when I was going to finish the book. Frankly, I had barely started so I felt like a fraud. However, I was very curious as to what was happening in the tale. I had a very vivid initial scene in my mind, of a cave, two brothers and betrayal. I didn’t know how they came to be there, or what would happen to them. I knew that only one brother would escape and in so doing took with him all the demons from hell. His escape was fraught with danger and all around him souls were gibbering and shrieking. I really enjoyed writing how this scene came about and then even more so when I worked out where the tale was going. Strangely, it was like reading a novel rather than writing one. At times I was really stuck and had to await inspiration. When inspiration finally came, it was like turning the page of a novel and I would dash to pen and paper and take the characters to the next inevitable cliff-hanger. I finally finished all three books when my children were teenagers. All in all – it took a very long time.
If you had a chance to spend some time with one mythical being, what would it be and why?
In my world I created krell, grakyn and shaol amongst others. I certainly wouldn’t like to meet any of them, especially on a dark night. Having a shaol would be handy; a guardian spirit that watches over me. Meeting a fairy would be good. At least that would be small and inconspicuous. I think talking to a mythical being may get you arrested otherwise. A genie would be high on the list. I’d ask for as many wishes as I wanted, although that might be a bit dangerous if I talked in my sleep. Wow, a dragon like Smaug would be cool. In my tales dragons are very dangerous and manipulative, so that may not end well. Demons, again these feature in my books and there’s no way I’d ever want to meet one of them. Father Christmas would be jolly but I may be on his naughty list, so again that may be disappointing. Back to the fairy, I think. Just so I could prove mythical creatures existed even if it was just for me.

Saturday 2 September 2017

The Poisoned Chalice by Bernard Knight: A Good Read Rather than Excellent

The Poisoned Chalice (Crowner John Mystery #2)The Poisoned Chalice by Bernard Knight
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn't enjoy this as much as the other books. Perhaps the formula the author uses in his writing is becoming too familiar, or it was simply less of a story compared to the other books. These books are slow reads, but beautifully crafted. The author gets the period spot on with wattle and daub buildings, mud strewn streets, draughty houses and yet warm inns. I have perhaps tired of some of the characters and I think I would have murdered his wife, Matilda, by now. However, John de Wolfe, being the Coroner has his hands tied by law. Once again there is murder and this time rape. John stumbles along and given his previous performance at solving crime, this novel relies on others to solve these ones. The author throws in ordeals, a little bit akin to a history lesson and whereas in other boos this felt part of the plot I did feel myself saying, oh no, not again. Still, a good read rather than excellent.

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Friday 1 September 2017

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

DunstanDunstan by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Conn Iggulden, but Dunstan was not up to his usual standards in my opinion. What he gets right is the sense of the period and he has a great ability to do this. You feel transported to the 10th C. This is an amazing period in history with kings coming and going at an alarming rate. The one consistency is Dunstan who starts life in an abbey and through an ability in many skill-sets manages to rise through the clergy. The tale is mainly believable with some action, but focusing more on political intrigue.

What I didn't like was Dunstan himself. Arrogant characters sometimes work but on this occasion he grated. I didn't really care for Dunstan, so felt that I wasn't sufficiently engaged with the character to care whether he lived or not.

It was an enjoyable tale, but I didn't feel compelled to get the next one in the series.

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Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Con Iggulden

Bloodline (Wars of the Roses, #3)Bloodline by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another griping read and the battle of Towton was awesome. Edward IV is a great character in this book and Iggulden has a plausible tale for the two kings, Henry VI and Edward clashing. I hadn't realised that both kings were on the throne at the same time and that London had bared its gates against Henry VI. At a time when traitors were hung drawn and quartered this was an incredibly brave thing to do. Iggulden brings history alive. Gone is the dryness of history as taught in school, but with intrigue and murder as a backdrop, his tales are marvelous and vibrant. This period of history is the original Game of Thrones.

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Monday 28 August 2017

Perhaps I Should Stick to Writing?

As Shrek said, "Working hard, or hardly working."

Well, I have had a busy day in the garden. Not sure it counts as working though. Gardening for me is perhaps not a good thing and I certainly don't have green fingers. Just chopped (or is it hacked) a conifer that was growing close to the ground like a living tepee, which I quite liked, but was slowly taking up more and more of the garden so drastic action was required.

The cat loved it as it was so we will no doubt fall out when she sees it. It was her private place where she could run to when she had a mouse or bird and I objected. It was dense foliage where no human dared to venture, mainly because it was a spiders' haven. Big ones at that.

Well, when the cat comes home later she will no doubt harangue me with tales of woe. Here is the before and after photo. The tree is a lovely shape in the top picture, nice and conical. In the lower picture it is pruned to within an inch of its life. Talk about short back and sides. At least now I can chase the cat and release any birds she may have.

And where is the rest of the tree, you ask? Here it is on the patio. What I am going to do with that I don't know. Suggestions on a postcard?

Monday 24 July 2017

Excellent read - S. J. Parris' Treachery

Treachery (Giordano Bruno, #4)Treachery by S.J. Parris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent read akin to Stephen Saylor's Gordianus the Finder series. The style is similar as the the premise. However, rather than a murder mystery in Roman times it is set in Elizabethan England. The author conveys a great sense of the period with its slums at one end of society and nobility at the other. Treachery is set in Portsmouth with Sir Francis Drake about to lead an expedition to the New World for plunder. However a suicide on board requires investigating and Bruno, an Italian philosopher is on hand to delve into the seedy depths of Elizabethan Plymouth. The scrapes come thick and fast for an excellent read. 

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Wednesday 19 July 2017

Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith

Power of the Sword (Courtney #5)Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great tale set in post First Word War South Africa. This is the 5th Courtney book. It's hard to say who the main character is as the tale switches between so man. There is even a mention of Nelson Mandela. The tale centers on the Hanai diamond mine and Centaine and her son Shasa. Once again Smith's knowledge of Africa brings the tale alive. His knowledge of its history in this turbulent period also makes for a very readable tale. At over 800 pages it is value for money and still a page-turner, mainly due to the easy to read narrative rather than an exciting plot. There are several characters to hate and the main one for me was Manfred De La Ray, although Smith also manages to create a little sadness for this character as well. Superb writing.

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Wilbur Smith's The Quest: Epic Read

The Quest (Ancient Egypt, #4)The Quest by Wilbur Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book, but borderline historical fiction and tending to fantasy. Still, an excellent read. This is the fourth in the series involving Taita, the once slave who is now more of a mystic/warlock. There's lots of mysticism and set in ancient Egypt that works really well but the reader has to suspend some belief. The journey is certainly epic as Taita seeks the source of the Nile and the reason for years of drought. There's giant, killer toads and an ancient goddess to contend with. Smith's descriptions are beautiful and his knowledge of Africa brings the books alive. A great read for historical fiction (with some tongue in cheek) and fantasy fans alike.

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Saturday 1 July 2017

Falling Down a Hole - With Style.

One weekend, in winter, on exercise with the territorial army, I was walking along a hill top near Loch Striven. It was completely dark even though it was early evening. The ground was gently undulating and long shadows were cast by the bright lights from below, and I mean bright lights. There is a base at the bottom of the hill and floodlights illuminated it. It was almost too bright to look down the hill.

Walking wasn't too hard, but I was carrying a large pack for the weekend ahead and a rifle. I stepped out onto what I thought was a shadow and promptly fell about six feet down a hole. I landed heavily on my knees and given the weight I was carrying I was amazed something didn't break. Being a good soldier I was still carrying my rifle, surprisingly!

Strewth. The pain. My knees were agony.

It took a moment to realise what had happened. I was kneeling by the side of a burn. Looking up the steep sides I saw where I had fallen from and it was quite a tumble. Rising, I clambered up the slope hoping no one had noticed. I was really embarrassed. The lights below had cast very dark shadows and what I had mistaken for a slight dip in the ground was in fact a not too deep ravine with a burn at the bottom.

Being the officer in charge of the platoon I did my best to ignore what had happened but snickering from behind revealed that others had seen. Damn. There goes my reputation...again.

Monday 26 June 2017

An Excellent Read: Conn Iggulden's Stormbird: The War of the Roses.

Stormbird (Wars of the Roses, #1)Stormbird by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent tale which brings to life how the War of the Roses started. It is clearly a complex time and the prologue nicely sets the scene: Edward the third's death bed and several of his sons hovering in background, already plotting who will rule. Iggulden does a great job of bringing clarity to what is a confusing time. History books can be very dry but a well written historical fiction can add a huge extra dimension, making the period come alive. The historical note at the end provides a glimpse into fact versus fiction and I think Iggulden does a great job of steering between fact with intriguing fiction. This is a great period of history that Game of Thrones can only emulate. It has the same sense of betrayal, political motivated murder and great characters determined to succeed. There are epic battles seen from the point of view of either Lords or lowly archers. A great tale.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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 :)

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.

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.

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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 and Stardust 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.

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