Tag Archives: writing

my favourite #reading place

We planted a vine in our garden when we moved into the house. It has now become a lovely shady spot for sitting and reading. The leaves shade your eyes so that it’s possible to read without squinting.

For visually impaired readers, the picture shows a garden bench against a fence with some patches of ivy growing up it, and the trunk of a vine. On the bench is a pair of spectacles and a book. the book cover shows a young man with shoulder-length auburn hair. The background is a pale blue with the shadow of a wolf behind the young man.

The book on the bench is The Wolf Pack, which was my first ever book to be published. It is the first of a series that I’ve entitled The Wolves of Vimar (Vimar being the world where the action takes place).

The story is based on a Dungeons and Dragons scenario I wrote, but in the writing, it changed somewhat. Some places where certain things happened in the scenario I moved to somewhere else in the book.

I was excited to hear from Next Chapter that it has been translated into French and Spanish, too.

The Wolf Pack tells of a group of people, unknown to each other in the beginning, who are commissioned to go and find a magical sword that used to belong to the legendary king, Sauvern. Its whereabouts has been lost for many centuries.

There are surprises and dangers to be encountered in the tale. Death is never far away, and help comes in unexpected ways. Every character has to confront their fears, and they are all changed by their experiences.

Due to the very different characters, there are arguments and confrontations on the way as well.

The book has been generally well received and is currently number 47 in Teen and Young Adult Fantasy Interactive Fiction. (Although I didn’t write it as a teen book, and it’s not interactive! Still, who knows the workings of the Great Zon!)

Here is one of the reviews it received in the USA:

John Thornton 5.0 out of 5 stars

A solidly done, and crafted fantasy novel

“The Wolf Pack” is an original and well crafted fantasy novel. If you like novels like the “Earthsea Saga” by Ursula Le Guin or “When the Heavens Fall” by Marc Turner then I suggest that you may well enjoy “The Wolf Pack.” British style and spellings throughout. Not really a negative, just a difference to be noted.

I found the characters well developed, and complex (in a good way).

The plot is unique and unusual. It is not easy to explain, but does unfold nicely as one reads through the book. I am trying to avoid spoilers, so I do not want to give too much away.

Dialogue is well written and each character has his or her own voice.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, it is available in ebook and paperback format. You can buy it by clicking on the cover in the sidebar or here. This will take you to Amazon where you are.

If you read the book, please leave a review. Reviews are the lifeblood of authors as they are the best way to let people know about books, good or bad, so people will have an idea if they will enjoy it.

I welcome any comments you wish to make. Please add them to the comments box.

Some alternative words to use for the senses

Image by Neofir72 from Pixabay

We are often told, as writers, that we should try to use all the senses in order to bring our stories to life. We have 5 senses (although some people say there is a 6th, and some stories deal with it, including some of my own) and it’s a good idea to change the word to describe the way the character experiences the sense.

We could say ‘He saw the dragon descending to its lair.’ But we could make it stronger by using a different word (or phrase). ‘He became aware of the dragon descending to its lair.’

In the above picture, we would be able to smell the vegetation, hear the birds singing and the rippling water. We see the green of the plants and the brownish colour of the water. We could dabble our feet in the water and feel the coolness, or the grass under our feet when we get out.

I’m not sure about taste, here, but if we know what we are doing, we could taste some of the plants. I know I’ve done so when I was young. the sweet taste of blades of grass when chewed or the nectar in the base of clover florets.

Here are some ideas you could use instead.

Image by Sofie Zbořilová from Pixabay

Sight:

become aware of, detect, discern, distinguish, give the impression of, identify, look, look like, note, notice, observe, perceive, realize, recognize, reveal, seem, sense, sight, spot, watch

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Smell:

scent, sniff, inhale, detect,

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Hearing:

catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to,

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Touch:

feel, handle, stroke, caress, fondle, paw, grope, rub, run fingers over, run hands over.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Taste:

savour, sip, nibble, sample, try, lick

Do you use all the senses when you describe a scene? It certainly brings it to life.

Please leave a comment in the comments box.

review of argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Argentum (The P.A.W.S.Saga Book 2) by [Kupfer, Debbie Manber]


**** stars

Overview

This is the second book in Debbi Manber Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. Saga, and it begins where book 1 finished. It is a tale of shapeshifters, werewolves and animagi.
P.A.W.S. is the place where these beings live. There are many such places all over the world.
Werewolves are humans that have been infected with lycanthropy, and are forced to become wolves at the full moon. Animagi can change their shape at will into an animal, while shapshifters require a charm passed down through families, and originally made by Merlin himself.
In this second book, we take up the story where the eveil werewolf, Alistair, has been destroyed.
Or has he?

Blurb


Argentum is the thread that binds all magic …
The silver of Miri’s cat charm passed on through the generations.
The silver of Jessamyn’s scepter, the source of her illusions.
The silver of Quentin’s scrying bowl, forged by Merlin.
All intertwine in Argentum.

With Alistair gone a measure of peace returns to P.A.W.S., but Miri is tormented by nightmares. The silver charm that had recently hung around Alistair’s neck is now in Miri’s possession and seems to have taken on a life of its own. And then it mysteriously disappears.
Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair, but can he be trusted?
And what of Jenna? The young girl rescued from Alistair’s pack house holds a terrible secret. One that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

Story


I found the story to be as immersing as the first book. Miri’s growing romance with the shapeshifter, Danny, whose alterego is a large maine coon cat, plays a big part in the story.
There is also a mystery about how her friend Josh’s mother has a photograph that looks like one she has of her grandmother when she was young.
The story, I found captivating, and wanted to know more about the whereabouts of Miri’s second charm that had belonged to her grandfather, and who took it. Was the dead Alistair influencing events? And how could this be?

Characterisation.


The characters in the book are realistic. They all have their good and bad points, just like real people. Perhaps they did not develop as much as they could have, but then there are 5 books to get through. Perhaps they will be changed by the end of the 5th book.

Writing.


This is the weakest part of the book. While the style is easy to read, I found a number of grammar mistakes that should really have been discovered and corrected in the editing stage.

Conclusion


All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the story is good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my review.

A Writer's Year

As it’s my last post of 2019, I thought I’d sum up my writing year.

This year I’ve been quite busy. I decided I’d write some prequels to my Wolves of Vimar series, some of which I serialised here. I originally thought I’d write them as short stories, but they have grown into novellas.

I wrote the back stories of Asphodel, and Kimi and Davrael. When I decided to submit them to Next Chapter, the publisher who published The Wolves of Vimar series as far as it’s got, I thought I should begin with the story of how Carthinal came into being. I told the tale of his parents. It’s a rather tragic story. I’ve now submitted it to Next Chapter, and am waiting for their next move.

I finished Vengeance of a Slave, my very first Historical Novel, submitted it and it is now live on Amazon. (http://mybook.to/voas/ ) It was released on Boxing Day. If any of you decide to purchase and read it, I would be grateful if you could post a review.

Researching this book, and the next one, Jealousy of a Viking, took a lot of time. Although some research is needed, even for fantasy novels, to get the history right, and the background is much more exacting. This book is not yet ready for publishing. It’s needs much more polishing before I submit it.

Earlier in the year I lost a lot of Book 4 of The Wolves of Vimar, and I searched all my places on my computer and also online. I felt demoralised by this, having lost several chapters. Then, out of the blue, I looked in one cloud storage I’d not looked in. In fact, I didn’t know I’d stored anything there, but there it was! Hooray!

I started working on it again, but it’s coming on rather slowly. This is because I started working on the backstory of Carthinal from The Wolves. This novella isn’t yet ready for submitting to Next Chapter. In fact it’s not quite finished, but I hope I’ll get it done shortly after the New Year. Then I can finish Book 4, probably to be called Immortal’s Death.

Next year I hope to release more of the novellas—Davrael and Kimi and Asphodel. I also hope to get Jealousy of a Viking released and finish Immortal’s Death. Quite a big task to get it all done.

I also have another fantasy novel that I started a couple of years ago that I want to finish, then there’s the on-going saga of the descendants of Adelbehrt from Vengeance of a Slave and Jealousy of a Viking. The next one is to be in Britain just after William the Conqueror beat Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Not sure of a title yet.

So that’s my year.

Thank you for following my blog, and to those of you who bought my books, a big thanks. I would be grateful for any reviews. They are most helpful, not only to me, but also to potential readers so they can tell if the book is for them.

You can purchase any of the books by clicking on the cover in the sidebar.

Please leave a comment in the comments box. I love to hear your thoughts.

Review of Write it Right by Mary Deal *****

Mary Deal has produced a book that every aspiring author, and even those with experience, should read.


She deals with every aspect of writing, from the beginning, when the book is just the germ of an idea, to the end, when the book is published and the dreaded marketing begins.


If you have no other book on writing, this should be the one you buy. It should be required reading for every author.

The book is easy to read, with no complicated explanations. She talks about the importance of editing and getting your manuscript the best it can be. She mentions how you can improve your plot, and how important characters are in getting the poblic to read and enjoy. Then she goes into the best ways of formatting your book for publishing, and the importance of the cover art.


There is little or nothing she doesn’t cover in this amazing book. If you are a writer, or an aspiring one, buy this book now.

I give it 5 stars.

Some thoughts on Enid Blyton and the 50p coin

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Recently, it was proposed to put Enid Blyton, the children’s author, onto the 50p coin. This was rejected on the grounds that she was a racist, homophobic and sexist.

This worries me slightly because we are judging someone from a different era in the light of our own. Admittedly, the three things she has been accused of are deeply unpleasant—at least to our more enlightened eyes. I personally abhor all these things.

She has also been condemned and removed from libraries, not because of this, but because some people thought that she used too simple language and did not stretch children’s vocabulary.

When I was a child, I loved her books. I read them avidly. They were exciting. Her Famous Five books, her Mallory Towers books, the Adventure books, the Faraway tree books, the Secret Seven, and my favourite as a child, Shadow the Sheepdog were all read with great pleasure.

Now let us examine the accusations.

Racism.

She certainly had golliwogs in the Noddy books, and they were the baddies. But golliwogs were common toys in the 40s and 50s and no one thought anything was wrong with them. There was The Black and White Minstrel Show on the TV, and the blacking up of white men as black minstrels was accepted.

Now I’m not saying it was right, Clearly it must have been deeply offensive to black people. What I am saying, is that when she was writing, golliwogs were not considered to be offensive, and so to brand her as racist on the grounds of having gollisogs in the Noddy books, and making them bad, was acceptable at the time.

Sexism.

Was she sexist? At that time, it women usually stopped working when they married. They then devoted their time to looking after the home and raising the children. That was how it was.

Because Anne, in the Famous Five, did the cooking when they were camping does not make Miss Blyton a sexist. She was reflecting the way things were at that time. Boys simply did not cook.

That they do now, shows how far we’ve come. When she was writing, boys didn’t learn cooking and needlework at school, neither did girls do woodwork and metalwork. Now they are all merged together under the title of Technology, or Design and Technology.

Homophobia.

Homosexual acts were illegal in England and Wales until 1967, but only between consenting adults over the age of 21, and even then, not in the armed forces, It was illegal in Scotland until 1980 and Northern Ireland until 1982. Thus, during the time when Enid Nlyton was writing, homosexuality was frowned upon by the state.

Having said that, reading the Famous Five books, Miss Blyton had a transexual (although the term was not used in those days.) Georgina, one of the five, and known as George, always dressed as a boy and had her hair cut short (unlike Anne who had long hair). She also expressed the desire to be a boy and behaved as a boy. That sounds very much like a transexual to me.

To conclude, I think that it is unfair to judge someone from a totally different era, with a totally different mindset by our much more enlightened and liberal standards.

children-studying-670663_1920

Miss Blyton was very important as an author. She got many children interested in reading. I am one of them. I devoured her books, as I said at the beginning of this post.
Some of her works, I understand, have been reworked. Things that we now consider wrong, why can’t they be altered. Noddy’s golliwogs could easily be changed into something else. Her baddies in the Famous Five, Sevret Seven and Adventure series, if people don’t think having them as foreign is right, could have their nationality changed.

The very first story I wrote was based on Shadow the Sheepdog. I was only about seven at the time. Would I have become a writer if I’d not had that early inspiration?

I think it’s wrong to judge people by today’s standards when the standards they lived in were so different.
I would love to hear what you think of this. Please post your comments in the comments box.

The Day on Vimar. How the people of that world break up the day.

ulsan-442399_1920

 

I’ve often wondered why we start the day in the middle of the night, and the year at a date that seems rather random.

Let’s think about the day first.

To me, it would seem obvious that the day begins when the sun rises. Or, I suppose you could say it ends when the sun sets, which would mean the next day begins at either sunrise or sunset. But why did someone—who?—decide the middle of the hours of darkness was a good idea? Anyway, midnight isn’t the middle of the hours of darkness all the year round, anyway.

Now if we say the day begins at sunrise, I can see that would be a problem, especially for the modern world. That can be solved by saying the day begins at the time of dawn on the equinoxes. That is round about 6am.

When I devised my world of Vimar for my Wolves of Vimar Series, I had to decide on how the people would break up their day. This is a totally different world from Earth, although, for simplicity’s sake, I still use hours and minutes. The people on Vimar hold the number six as sacred and all multiples of six also have power. Thus 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day makes sense.

So, on Vimar, the day begins at what we would call 06:00 or 6am. That to them would be 00:00. They begin counting from there. 7am would be 01:00. 10am would be 04:00. What we call midday, to someone on Vimar would be 06:00.

They also use the 24 hour clock.

If a person wanted to have a meeting at, say, 10am, by our standard, they would say, “I’ll meet you at the fourth hour.”

I don’t use the time very much in the book, but I thought it would be essential in my world building to try to think about this.

I will go into the year on the third Tuesday of next month,

If you want to read more, and about Carthinal and his friends and their adventures on the world of Vimar, you can buy the first 3 books by clicking on the covers in the sidebar. I am serialising Carthinal’s early life on the first Tuesday of every month.

Please leave a comment in the comments box. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Review of Relissarium Wars, Part 1 by Andrew C. Broderick

 

I’ve just finished reading Book 1 of The Relissarium Wars and found it an excellent read.

It is, in fact, more of a novella than a book, but it is the first part of a series, and so is probably simply an introduction.

The characters are introduced in this book, along with the main storyline, which will, I presume, continue through the other books to come.


Theo is a farmer on the moon of Reliss, but is persuaded by his brother to pick up a package for him on his regular trip to the market. Little does Theo realise that this simple favour will land him into something much bigger and more dangerous than he thought. He is in over his head, but has to take part in a rebellion as there is no way out for him to get back home. Especially as his moon home has been annihilated, and so, with a price on his head, he has no choice but to help the Carbonari.

The book is well written. I was delighted not to come across typos and grammatical errors! There is plenty of action and the characters are believable, if not much development, but this may come in later books. This is after all a very short book taking place in a very short time. Hardly enough time for anyone’s character to develop.

I would recommend this book to any scifi fan and fans of action adventure.