Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cover Reveal! – Children of Apollo (Second Edition)

Salvete readers!

This week, I’m chuffed to be able to reveal the new cover for Children of Apollo – Eagles and Dragons Book I.

I’ve been planning this for a while and thought that it would be a good time to launch this as it’s just ahead of the Summer release of Book II in the series, Killing the Hydra.

Many thanks to book cover designer extraordinaire, Derek Murphy of Creativindie, who did a brilliant job of creating this cover and including all the elements I wanted. Inside this second edition, you will also find a new glossary of Greek and Latin words.

To go along with this cover reveal, I’ve had my first go at video. Check it out to see when I open the proof package and get my first look at the cover. I might seem sedate, but inside I’m beaming!

I also go over a few Eagles and Dragons Publishing updates. If I’m sporting that deer-in-the-headlights look, please excuse me - I’ve never been one for the camera.

However, there is a first time for everything, right?

There is a lot coming up this year from Eagles and Dragons Publishing so you’ll want to sign-up for the mailing list on the top right of the Writing the Past website. No worries. I don’t throw spam at people. You will only get notifications of new posts one or two times a week.

For those of you who do sign-up for the mailing list, there will be a bit of a surprise.

If you sign-up for e-mail updates before Sunday, June 30th, 2013 you will be entered in a draw to win one of three signed copies of the second edition of Children of Apollo. The first place winner will also receive a wooden rudus – that’s a gladius! – so that you can practice your sword moves at home.

I’ll be daring and do another video when I pick the winners’ names in July. So, don’t waste time. Sign-up now!

To accompany this launch, and if you missed them before, here are links to a series of blog posts entitled The World of Children of Apollo. These are a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the history, people and places of the novel. I’ll be doing a similar thing with Killing the Hydra toward the end of the summer.

So, I hope you like the new cover and contents for Children of Apollo. As usual, it’s available in paperback and e-book.

If you have read it and liked it, reviews on any site are welcome and helpful.

Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting.

Oh, and here’s the VIDEO.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Picture Postcard #8 - Punic Ghosts

I have travelled over sea and sand to this ancient place.

My footsteps upon this cursed ground, these sad streets, are heavy,

For I walk in ancient Carthage.

Not the brilliant white ruins of antiquity for this place.


Here, every street and stone, root and rock, weep for the past.

I am choked as I walk, heavy of heart for all the whispers about me.

From the salt-sown earth about the Bursa Hill,

The men, women and children of Carthage scream, and wail, and cry.

For all time.

 “Carthago delenda est” said the Roman.

And so it came to pass.

As I walk the streets, burned by the flames of ages past,

An incessant whispering of ghosts in my ears,

The bloody words resonate with the tramp of legionary hobnails.

“Carthago delenda est” – Carthage must be destroyed.

I walk among Roman ruins as well, for time has no favourites.

Build upon the ruins of the fallen they might,

But Rome too is dust in Carthage.

The walls and pillars of the Caesars crumble and decay, the mosaics fade.

Punic and Roman voices are caged together here…forever.

As the wind whips dust among the ruins,

And the sea laps the shore,

I weep for the forgotten people of this place,

Of Carthage.


If you interested in Carthage, there is a great trilogy by author Ross Leckie that is worth checking out. 

Recently, I also enjoyed watching the documentary Carthage - The Roman Holocaust. I'm not sure about some of the theories in this documentary but it does make a good case and takes the viewer to some spectacular locales. Well worth an hour and a half of your time. I was inspired to look through some of my old photos of Tunisia after watching this documentary and was thus inspired write this picture postcard.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Make Me Feel Something

I’ve been told at times that I’m an overly emotional person, that I can be too sappy or quick to anger.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling. It’s part of what makes being human so great. You get far more out of life when you can experience a full range of emotions. 

You also get more out of art and literature too.

That may seem obvious to most of you. Of course! When you read something you should be made to feel, that’s what makes reading fiction worthwhile!

But I’ve picked up many books that have not moved me. Me? The overly emotional person? Yes.

Why is that? Why do some books or movies bring me to tears, make me curse out loud or take a swing at an unsuspecting door (not too often that one!)?

It’s not necessarily the subject matter or the setting. One book I read that didn’t move me one iota was a story of Hannibal and his struggle with Rome – this is a story that is fraught with emotional upheaval, and yet I felt I had just read a carpet cleaning pamphlet.

That’s not to say that others didn’t feel something when reading that book, but it goes to show that writers tread a fine line through the field of potential readers. They will touch some and completely miss others.

I’m thinking out loud here. There is no hard and fast rule. We are all different and affected by myriad things.

But there is something that a writer can do, something to help him or her touch readers.

A writer should write what truly moves him or herself.

If a writer is not moved by what he or she writes, there is a definite problem. If I’m not moved to laughter, tears or fury by my own story, how can I expect my readers to feel anything?

It’s easier and more exciting than ever for writers to get their work out to readers. If one is prolific enough, one can put a book out every week.  Serials are popular again and there are some very good ones out there. There are also some that are not so good, but that is just my opinion as a reader.

I never name titles that I don’t like because I don’t think it fair to trash someone else’s work. But as writers, we should keep in mind that most people read fiction to be moved, transported, pierced through the heart.

As writers we need to make sure that our work is infused with genuine emotion, something that readers can relate to no matter the setting or period.

We should also stay true to ourselves and our vision, because the moment we leave that path we lose readers.

I try to explore my fears and fantasies, the things that inspire me to no end.

The ancient Greeks believed in the emotional arc of a story and how it was essential to audience fulfillment. As a writer, I want that too. For if I don’t adhere to that journey and fill it with a whole range of emotion, by the end of the story I feel that something is distinctly lacking.

Whether reading or writing, when I flip over that last page or type that last word, I want to feel an exhilarating thrill creep up my spine, I want to be weeping, sighing or laughing.

When the story ends, I want that final image to resonate for a long time, to haunt me. I want all stories to make me feel something that is genuine, beautiful and human.

Otherwise, what’s the bloody point?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Picture Postcard #7 - Unto the Goddess

At midsummer, the island earth bakes beneath Helios’ gaze. Insects whirr, peasants retreat to their hovels and animals laze in orchard shade.

Hues of green, brown and ochre blanket the fertile valley from salt sea to rocky peak. Splashes of yellow and orange, purple and red abound amid tangles of ivy and grape vine.

As the fiery sun at last dips into the western waves, a hush falls over all, a sigh to melt troubled limbs and sorry spirits. Crickets join the chorus and the lady Selene rises silver and full.

When the fire within the temple kindles, it is time.

At the edge of a grove, a young satyr sits on a moss-covered rock. His eyes take in the moon, the valley and the temple before he closes them and raises his reed pipe to his lips.

The music is soft and sweet as the dew that gathers upon the ground about his hooves. Night comes on and the constellations wink.

From all directions comes laughter like crystal water, the voices of Nymphs, Naiads and Dryads come to frolic beneath the full moon and pay homage to their lady. They skip and dance and twirl, barefoot upon the dewy grass with crowns of flowers in their long-flowing hair.

More satyrs come, jumping with excitement, mischievous grins beneath craggy brows topped with ivy and grape vines. They crash onto the scene to embrace the spirits of wood, field, grove and stream.

Cries of delight and jollity lift into the sky and they all spin and laugh and lift olive wood cups brimming with wine to their lips.

Cornucopia overflow with the fruits of the land and baskets of bread, tenderly made of the goddess’ grain, pass among the throng.

Then the centaurs come down out of the mountains, dark and lean and warlike. But this night, their cudgels lay at home. They come to celebrate, to shake the earth with their rhythmic dance - war made merry.

The torches are burning bright and the music reaches a fevered crescendo as flute, tambourine, aulos, systrum and drum rise and fall with the voices of all. Faster and faster the gathered whirl and laugh and jump and roll…

Until it all stops.

Upon the road, lit by moonlight, approach the Kouros and Kore. They are young and beautiful and loving, new blossoms to the world about them.

The gathering parts for them, a sea of smiles and admiration as they approach the temple where offerings pile high against the walls. Before the door, a throne is set and the Kouros and Kore kneel before it.

All sound goes out of the world as the goddess steps out of her house, her bare feet soft upon the marble step, barely touching the blades of grass beneath her as she steps down.


All know her here, love her. And she loves them, and gives to them.

The goddess’ white robes flow about her like a clinging mist and her wheat-gold hair falls in perfect strands down the length of her back. Her head is high and proud, and the stars spin in her sky-blue eyes.

A hand upon the cheek of the Kouros and Kore welcomes youth to the gathering and all bow before the goddess as she sits with the youths to either side.

The goddess smiles and laughs, a sound to lift the hearts and spirits of all. She nods and the revels explode once more in the midsummer night.

There is yet time before the dawn and the heat of day, for song and dance, for laughter and love.
Demetra smiles and all is well with the world…