Another blog from another writer with comments about what's going on in the world, what he's been doing but mainly about writing.

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Linking Up

Having a little look at my Twitter the other day and I noticed that people can publish their blog posts straight away. Wondering how I can do this myself, I asked a friend and fellow blogger and she very kindly talked me through it, so let’s see how that goes…

Anyway, what have I been doing lately? On Saturday I took the hovercraft over to the Isle of Wight and had a look around Carisbrooke Castle and Yarmouth Castle. I was very lucky to get an annual membership of English Heritage for a year so I’ll be touring around the UK for a bit this summer!

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Carisbrooke Castle

Yarmouth Castle

Yarmouth Castle

I can recommend both of these places if you’ve got a day on the Isle of Wight: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

So, let’s see if this works…

March 2014 Readings

Are you all enjoying In the Shadow of the Gods? I do hope you are. Please let me know what you think (unless you fancy doing a spot of trolling…)

Anyway, this month I read the following books. Do have a look at them.

1) Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson. A book set at the turn of the Millennium with some fantasy elements. Very good.

2) Viking Gold by V. Campbell. This is a book aimed at young adults but can be read by adults too. A gripping adventure set around the time of the Norse discovery of America.

3) Viking: Odinn’s Child by Tim Severin. A fantastic book. If you are enjoying Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series then you will like these. I can also recommend his book on the Brendan Voyage if you enjoyed Viking Gold (which I’m sure you will!)

4) Jack of Spies by David Downing. Taking a break from the list to see how other spy books are written. This is set just before the First World War in 1913 and gives an insight into life in China, the USA, Britain and Ireland. Very interesting.

Sorry for the lack of Sharpe but Sharpe’s Enemy has not yet returned to the Library. No wonder he’s not good friends with Mr Sharpe…

What I Read in February 2014

Last month I sought to disprove the theory that men cannot do more than one thing at a time. How did I do that? I had more than one book on the go at the time!

1) The Bone Thief by V. M. Whitworth – set after the death of Alfred the Great where a young monk from Mercia is sent to recover the bones of a saint while avoiding Norsemen and Wessexmen.

2) To Kill Rasputin by Andrew Cook – interesting biography of the Tsarina’s friend. Haven’t read a biography for a while so it was good to get back into it.

3) The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell – the latest installment in the Saxon Series.

4) Britain’s Master Spy by Sidney Reilly – the Ace of Spies’ memoirs

5) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – And a signed copy, too!

6) The Norseman by Jason Born – featuring well known Norsemen Erik the Red, Leif Eriksson and Olaf Tryggvasson

7) Moura: The Dangerous Life of Baroness Budberg by Nina Berberova – a biography of an aristocrat who lived during the Russian Revolution.

8) Viking Dawn by Henry Treece – written in the 50s for younger people, this book is worth a read.

9) Go Spy the Land by George Alexander Hill – the memoirs of a British Spy.

10) Sharpe’s Sword by Bernard Cornwell

What do you mean that doesn’t count as doing more than one thing at a time? I can cook a roast dinner too if that counts.

The Vikings are on Their Way…

So, who is looking forward to the upcoming Vikings Exhibition at the British Museum? http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/vikings.aspx

If you want some books to read to get you in the mood then this post from Richard Lee (Founder of the Historical Novel Society) is a good place to start: http://www.waterstones.com/blog/2014/03/bring-on-the-vikings/

In the Shadow of the Gods

Ladies and Gentlemen, an announcement.

Just to let you all know that my latest book has been published! My first novel, In the Shadow of the Gods, is now available from Smashwords and Amazon in both print and electronic formats.

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Want more information? Just click here. In the meantime, enjoy the book and thanks for reading (and buying!)

What I Read in January 2014

This month I took advantage of an offer with Audible to try out listening to audio books on my new phone and listened to Bernard Cornwell’s Winter King. As I’m dabbling in publishing my own work I hope one day there will be something similar to CreateSpace for writers in the UK to make audio versions of their work.

Anyway, here’s what I read in January:

1) The Iron Maze by Gordon Brook-Shepherd – Bit of non-fiction.

2) Sharpe’s Company by Bernard Cornwell – with the return of Sergeant Hakeswill

3) The Amber Treasure by Richard Denning – set in the early years of Anglo Saxon England. Very good for adults and young adults.

4) A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891 – 1924 by Orlando Figes – read this alongside the fiction (I can’t read that quickly).

5) Saxon: The Book of Dreams by Tim Severin – a novel of Charlemagne, a largely neglected figure in historical fiction which is surprising considering he was one of the most powerful men in Europe at one time. I enjoyed this and look forward to reading Tim Severin’s Viking and Corsair series.

6) Sons of Thorgrim the Strong by Mikael Lind. Written in a very interesting way in the tradition of the Old Norse Sagas.

7) The Beggar at the Gate and Other Stories by Various Authors. Published by the Historical Novel Society, this work are the winners and shortlisted entries in the 2012 Short Story Competition. All very well deserved.

8) Viking Warrior: Strongbow Saga 1 by Judson Roberts. I enjoyed this book very much. A very good insight into Norse society when they were not out raiding. The rest of the series looks very promising.

Strange that I have finished in the Viking Age when you consider what the next post will be about…

Read Through History: September – December 2013

Yes, I know, I’ve fallen behind! Sorry! Here’s what I read over the last few months of last year:

1) Theodora by Stella Duffy: The rags to riches story of the sixth century Byzantine Empress

2) Sharpe’s Gold by Bernard Cornwell

3) Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: A very good example of how historical fiction should be written (in my opinion, anyway)

4) New York by Edward Rutherfurd: Got this signed at a talk Edward gave in Winchester in July. A very nice man and this book was very good for the flights to and from New York in October.

5) Final Whistle: The Great War in Fifteen Players by Steven Cooper: A bit of non-fiction from an author who came to speak at the Portsmouth Bookfest.

6) Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo: A tale based on the story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British Army. Another author who appeared at the Bookfest.

7) Sharpe’s Escape by Bernard Cornwell

8) Sharpe’s Fury  by Bernard Cornwell (I fell behind)

9) To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams: Read this back in 2010. Very good thriller set in Russia in 1881, a few years before the Revolution.

10) Sharpe’s Battle by Bernard Cornwell

Right. There we are. All up-to-date until next week! I’ll try and keep up in future…

Discovering Cover Art

Hello Fans! Happy New Year to you all! May this year be, as we say round here, well good. Or, as the young of today say, ‘Epic’ or ‘Totes Amazeballs!’

Anyway, what’s been happening here? Well, apart from a truckload of reading for the next novel (yes, the one I started when I started this blog! It’s editing time and I’ve got ten tons of research to do!) I’ve been practicing my drawing.

‘But, James!’ I hear you cry, ‘You’re a writer! What the hell are you doing, throwing away valuable writing time by drawing?’

Well, I’ve decided to add to my Author Pages on here, Smashwords and Amazon and publish my first novel! Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for a Big Announcement!

This, however, does mean I have to have a cover for the book and thought it would be great fun to design my own cover. I’ve got a few practice sketches which I might share on here at some point.

Anyway, hope all is well with everyone. I’ve noticed I’ve not put anything up for the Read Through History for a while so I’ll be doing that soon!

NaNoWriMo 2013

(Thought I’d published this… oh well, better late than never…)

Just in case you were wondering where I’d gone for the past month I was up to my eyes becoming one of these:

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

For those of you that have not seen or heard of this, it is a challenge to write fifty thousand words (50,000 words) in the thirty months of November, which works out at about 1667 words a day (or 1700 as I aimed for).

Is this a good thing to do? I have read of some people who can write twice this amount each day but they don’t always have to write with a full-time job too. It’s also a good way of getting ideas down quickly.

It’s not recommended if you have loads to do, you are of a lazy disposition, suffer easily from repetitive strain injury or are at risk from stress-related hair loss.

Still, I found it worthwhile (all being well you might get to read the results of my attempts sometime towards the end of 2014). Give it a go yourself and see what you think. And treat yourself to a t-shirt. There’s some nifty stuff in their store: https://store.nanowrimo.org/merchandise

The Day of the Dead

Come on down to the Square Tower on the 30th October for ‘The Day of the Dead’.

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This night of chilling tales will feature some of the best writers in Portsmouth. At only four pounds, Guv’nor, this is nothing but a frightfully good bargain!

So make an Appointment with Fear and stop by at what will be a splendid soiree of spooky scribbling and get to know some of fine scribes of Portsmouth!

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