March 2017 – Newsletter

My news:

This month I have mainly been….zzzzzzzz….sorry about that nodded off. Oh yes, I was saying…zzzzzz….What? Huh? Oh excuse me. This month has mainly been…zzzzzz…ok, I give up trying to labour the point. Our new member of the family is bringing untold joy and relentless tiredness. It really is amazing how much love you can feel for something that makes you so fatigued. Not only am I mentally tired, I physically ache all over. I have so many injuries right now and I don’t know where I am getting them from.

Words written:

9,327 – not too shabby. Especially considering how gruelling the month has been. At the start of the month I figured if I made it to 5,000 words I would be happy. Hopefully I will push on in April and write a lot more. On another positive note, those 9,000+ words saw me creep over the 100,000 word mark for Only Stones Remain. It is always a great milestone when I do this. I reckon this novel will come in at around 160k words so I have still a way to go but I am definitely getting there.

 Best book I read:

Product Details

Blue Lighting by Ann Cleeves. This is the fourth book in the Shetland series which has not had a weak entry yet. Ann has also written the Vera Drake series which I haven’t read but I know many people rave about them. Blue Lighting marks a great addition to the series, which is especially surprising considering a large chunk of the novel deals with bird watchers or “twitchers” as they are better known.

 

 

 

Best film or TV show:

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I am watching so many TV shows at the moment it is almost impossible to keep up with them all. The night feeds certainly help and Emerald City is one show in particular which I find myself looking forward to getting up in the middle of the night for. I have always loved the world of Oz and seen the Wizard of Oz dozens of times. This is the first time in years where I have seen a completely different take on the world. It is not quite the edge of your seat type show I usually love, but it certainly has me interested every week.

 

 

 

Best day:

This is quite an indulgent entry this month but it was quite befitting it involved my mother and occurred on mother’s day. I am not going to state how amazing my mum is. Everyone quite rightly thinks their mother is the best and I am no exception. One of my mum’s greatest strengths though is her ability to retain anything I have ever owned, knowing that one day I would want to be nostalgic over it. Said item I am talking about? A novel I wrote to do with superheroes when I was fifteen. I was thinking about it the other day and happened to mention it to my mum on the phone. The next day she turned up with it at my house. I then spent the next few days, cringing, smiling and even admiring my early attempts at writing. It was also interesting to see how I still use some turns of phrases that I used over 20 years ago.

Joke of the month:

Two fellas in a pub one says:

“Hello Bill how’s your brother Ted?”
“He died yesterday,” Bill said and then sobbed into his beer.
“Oh that is terrible. If you don’t mind me asking, how did he die?”
“Well he was driving his car and he slammed the brakes on with such force he got catapulted out of the roof through my second floor bedroom window and landed on the bed.”
“Oh that’s a terrible way to go,” says the first fella.
“What? Nah that didn’t kill him. He bounced off the bed up in to the attic, managed to grab the water tank and as he grabbed it he fell back down with the tank on top of him 1,000 gallons of water and all.”
“I don’t know what to say, that’s an awful way to go,” says the fella.
“Nah that didn’t kill him. He staggered over to the wardrobe, tried to haul himself up and it toppled on top of him, crushing his rib cage.”
“Oh, I am so sorry mate.”
“Nah that didn’t kill him. He managed to haul the wardrobe off him, staggered out to the stairs, lost his balance and fell over the banisters to the floor, taking the banisters with him. He had four spikes of woof impaling him to the ground.”
“I’ve never heard anything like it. Really what a way to go.”
“Nah that didn’t kill him. He managed to pull the wood out, got to his feet, moved towards the kitchen but stubbed his big toe on the carpet, which caused him to trip into the electric heater in the kitchen knocking off the wall and smashing the taps. The water…the electricity…the poor guy had 60,000 volts run through him.”
“I really have no words. To survive all that and-”
“Nah that did kill him. He.-“
“Hang on just a minute. What on earth killed him then?”
Bill looks up at his friends with a look of incredulity on his face. “I shot him of course.”
“You shot him! Why?”
“Had to. He was wrecking the place”

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February 2017 Newsletter

My News:

There is little to report this month in terms of book news. Sales have seen a nice spike for some reason which is always welcome. I have given up trying to ascertain the reason for this. Sometimes advertising has an impact, sometimes not. Sometimes it is the fact that I meet a new group of people and I get a knock on effect from word of mouth sales. Whatever it is, sales are always welcome, especially when they are spread evenly across all the books.

Words written:

7,373 – For regular readers you would be forgiven in thinking I have not been the most productive of late. This month as well as last month was always going to be a low word count. Next month will probably be as well. The reason for this is understandable (see the best day of the month).

Best book I read:

Product DetailsMy sister’s Grave – Robert Dugoni. This was another book I picked on a whim. I have never heard of Robert Dugoni let alone read any of his books. I loved this story. I can’t honestly say it is overly original but it is well written with good characters. There is a nice twist which whilst not ground-breaking I definitely did not see happening.Honourable mention to –Doing it over. This was another virgin author for me. In an effort to broaden my horizon, I tried another romance novel. I enjoyed this a lot, the romance and slush were minimalistic and instead it was just a nice, easy reading drama. Considering it is part of Kindle unlimited, I will definitely be reading the second in this series.

 

Best Film or TV show:

Image resultEpisodes – I’ve come very late to the show with this entry but have laughed my butt off at the exploits of the Matt Le Blanc and co. Matt Le Blanc plays an exaggerated version of himself and Joey from friends, only in Episodes he is smarter (at least a little) and cruder. The characters really make this, with the secondary characters becoming more prominent as the seasons go by. There are many laugh out loud moments and when I have been desperate to keep my eyes open at 3am (again see best day – although if you haven’t figured it out by now I am very concerned about your intuition) this has helped me immensely.

What is also great about this program is the unexpected cameos that crop up. Several famous faces pop in and out of the show mostly for only five minutes of screen time, yet these appearances never feel forced.

Best day:

 

Image may contain: 2 people, baby

Without a doubt this was 12th February where we welcomed a third son Toby James Donovan into the world. The labour process was one I definitely don’t want to go through (or more accurately watch my suffering wife endure) again. My wife suffers from Addison’s disease and this complicates the labour and birth to worrying levels. I won’t go into the details mainly because I am sick of telling the story and don’t want to re-live it anymore. But it started with water breaking at 5am on the Saturday and ended with an emergency C-section at 4:49am Sunday morning.  So far Toby has been an angel (I am under no illusions that it will remain like this) and as you can see from the photo, his two older brothers adore him. The tiredness is gruelling and there have been many days where we feel like zombies (hence the low word count) but it is all worth it.

Joke of the month:

A man is driving down the road and breaks down near a monastery. He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, “My car broke down. Do you think I could stay the night?”

The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, and even fix his car. As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a very strange sound. The next morning, he asks the monks what the sound was, but they say, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.”

The man is disappointed but thanks them anyway and goes about his merry way. Some years later, the same man breaks down in front of the same monastery. The monks again accept him, feed him, and again fix his car. That night, he hears the same strange noise that he had heard years earlier. The next morning, he asks what it is, but the monks reply, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.”

The man says, “All right, all right. I’m dying to know.”

“If the only way I can find out what that sound was is to become a monk, how do I become a monk?”

The monks reply, “You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of sand pebbles, when you find these numbers, you will become a monk.”

The man sets about his task. Some 54 years later, he returns and knocks on the door of the monastery. He says, “I have traveled the earth and have found what you have asked for. There are 145,236,284,232 blades of grass and 231,281,219,999,129,382 sand pebbles on the earth.”

The monks reply, “Congratulations. You are now a monk. We shall now show you the way to the sound.”

The monks lead the man to a wooden door where the head monk says, “The sound is right behind that door.”

The man reaches for the knob, but the door is locked.

He says, “Real funny. May I have the key?” The monks give him the key, and he opens the door. Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone.

The man demands the key to the stone door. The monks give him the key, and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. He demands another key from the monks, who provide it.

Behind that door is another door, this one made of sapphire, and so it went until the man had gone through doors of emerald, silver, topaz, and amethyst.

Finally, the monks say, “this is the last key to the last door.”

The man is relieved to know that he has finally reached to the end.

He unlocks the door, turns the knob, and behind that door he is amazed to find the source of that strange sound.

But he can’t tell you what it is because you’re not a monk.

 

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January 2017 Newsletter

Wow, so much for January being a slow and depressing month. It seems to have whizzed by.  As usual I got the winter cold that everyone got – I even got it twice once at the start and again at the end of the month, but overall it was a decent month.

My News:

 All my books are now in paperback. Yes that means Pewtory the Lesser Bard and the Cadaver Knight (both books in the “A Frindoth Tale” series) can now be purchased on Amazon.

I am a huge fan of Kindles and read 95% of my books on them but there is still something immensely satisfying about seeing the physical copies of your books on your shelf.

Incidentally, I formatted my other books myself. It took me many hours and sometimes a lot of frustration. It was the main reason why I had not got round to publishing Pewtory and the Cadaver Knight. However, I discovered Fiverr.com and had both books formatted perfectly for £3.98 in 45 minutes. To say I was ecstatic with this discovery is an understatement.

Words written:

11,878. I had to double check this as it seemed far too low for me. I had a few days where I didn’t write at the start as I was still in festive mode and I also didn’t write on the weekends but in my head I had a good month writing solidly for days at a time. Yes, the colds set me back and I hit only 800 words a day rather than the usual 1,000 but I didn’t think it would make that much difference. It turns out it does.

The more I think about it though the more I am not too disappointed with myself. We are expecting the birth of our third child in February and as a result I have been doing some of the school runs. This is the time I would normally write so it is no surprise to see my output has been affected.

Best book I read:

Product DetailsThe Godfather – Mario Puzo. Continuing my theme of reading a classic that I have never read I decided to give the Godfather a go. Confession time – I enjoyed the film but never loved it and never got the hype surrounding it. This book has changed my mind and made me want to watch it again.  It is so well written and told in such an easy way. The characters don’t evolve too much but it does not seem to matter as the story is just compelling.

Honourable mention to the Burning Land – Bernard Cornwell which I thought was the best entry in the Saxon series so far.

 

Best film or TV show:

There were two contenders this month. I have opted for the OA as the other one I have not finished yet and will probably talk about next month. The OA took me completely by surprise. I had no idea what it was about and after watching the first 50 minutes of the pilot thought it was going to be a standard TV show. Boy was I wrong. This show sucked me in with its uniqueness and its standout performances. I thoroughly recommend.

Best day:

I am going for the corny day. I don’t normally do corny but this one moment got me. I normally write in a coffee shop or first thing in the morning before the family wakes. In the middle of January I found myself writing when the kids were playing downstairs. Joseph my eldest at 7 years old came up to see what I was doing. He looked over my shoulder and began reading. Normally this would have irritated me but I was nearing the end of the chapter. Joe sat unobtrusively and just read, as I neared the end of the chapter I heard him mutter, “that’s really good Dad,” (I know it is a 7 year old biased opinion but still). I asked him if he knew how the chapter was going to end. Joe said, “Yeah, x is going to get caught by y and fight.” I didn’t say anything and just wrote the last paragraph. Joseph read it and gasped and was full of it.

Since then he has bugged me to write so he can watch and also write his own story. Corny – yes. Do I care? – No.

Joke of the month:

A family took their frail, elderly mother to a nursing home and left her, hoping she would be well cared for. The next morning, the nurses bathed her, fed her a tasty breakfast, and set her in a chair at a window overlooking a lovely flower garden.
She seemed okay, but after a while she slowly started to tilt sideways in her chair. Two attentive nurses immediately rushed up to catch her and straighten her up.
Again she seemed okay, but after a while she slowly started to tilt over to her other side. The nurses rushed back and once more brought her back upright. This went on all morning. Later, the family arrived to see how the old woman was adjusting to her new home.
“So Ma, how is it here? Are they treating you all right?”
“It’s pretty nice,” she replied. “Except they won’t let me fart.”

Also check out my version of advertising via the Mannequin challenge!

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December 2016 Newsletter

Happy New Year!

I hope the holiday season brought you all the happiness you wanted and left you not as bloated and stuffed as me. May I take this opportunity to officially welcome to you to my first newsletter of my new website. As many of you know, the transition to this website from my old blog at Ritualofthestones.blogspot.com has been a long time coming. I will still leave that site up and running as it contains over 170 book reviews which proved very popular but from now on this will be the place where you will find everything you need to know about me and my work. This is the format I intend to go with on a monthly basis. Let me know what you think:

My news:

Within Stone’s Shadow has been released!

Both the Kindle and paperback versions of the Within Stone’s Shadow the third and penultimate novel in the Ballad of Frindoth series was released a few weeks ago. My loyal followers will know that I always intended this series to be a trilogy however, as I neared the middle of the first draft I realised I still have a lot of the story still to tell. Rather than release another mammoth book like “the Stones of Sorrow” (it consisted of over 255,000 words!), I decided I would rather split the final novel into two more palatable lengths.

Part of me was reluctant to go down the current trend of splitting the final volumes of series into two which seems to be more of a money making exercise rather than delivering a focused story. However, as I was agonizing over this decision I realised I all of the character arcs I had written so far had reached a natural stopping point. Writing a fourth book would also allow me to change the style of the book slightly as it is a time when many of the character’s path start to cross over so I could deliver a fast paced novel which did not short change the characters I love so dearly.

You can find the new novel on the books sections of this website but to save your precious fingers an extra click, I have included the link below.

Within Stone’s Shadow

Words written:

After the gruel of achieving 51,000 words in November, I decided to take time off in December and concentrate of being Christmassy with the family. This is a long-winded way of saying I only managed 4,354 words!

Best book I read:

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Not sure why I decided to eventually read this book. All I can say is that I loved it. Considering it was published in the 1938 it holds up incredibly well. It is billed as an American Gothic novel and I already love the genre. The characters are well portrayed and realised and the mystery just draws you in and won’t let go. I highly recommend it.

I feel I must also mention Little Small Things – Jodi Picoult. Any other month this would have secured top spot. I have seen it described as a modern day “To kill a Mocking Bird.” Whilst I don’t think the novel quite captures Harper Lee’s wonderful tale, I can see where the sentiment comes from and can appreciate it. This is a book well worth checking out.

Best Film or TV show:

Being Christmas I managed to get through a lot of favourite films and plenty of new ones. As a massive Star Wars fan, I enjoyed Rogue One (especially the last 45 minutes) but it was certainly not without its faults. As it is Christmas I am going for, “A Nightmare before Christmas.”

 

Amazingly I had never seen this film before (I only saw It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time last year). A Nightmare before Christmas never appealed to me but boy was I wrong. Me and the kids loved this one and watched it three times over the festive period.

Best day:

December is such a marvellous time for doing all things Christmassy. The wife and I go out of the way to make it as magical as we can for the kids but no day topped Christmas Eve where we visited Father Christmas at Hever Castle. Many places make the visit to Santa Claus special but Hever Castle just gets it. The whole grounds are made to look special, from the snow they spray over the trees, to the hall of Christmas trees in the castle to the professional actors they higher to interact with you as you walk around the grounds on the trails.

Joke of the month:

Don’t know if this is a wind up but I just received a text saying I’d won £250 cash or two tickets to an Elvis tribute night. It says Press 1 for the money or 2 for the show.

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Welcome Stoneholders

Welcome to new website which has now replaced my old blog over on RitualoftheStones@blogspot.org. As many of you are aware this website has been a long overdue. I made the decision to move away from my normal blog just over a year ago for the simple reason that I found myself doing more book reviews than writing. Whilst my productivity went up my presence on the internet went down.

This website serves as a balance between the two and have an all round more professional feel. It will also focus primarily on my writing. I may post the occasional book review but will definitely not be reviewing every book I read. I will also revisit some of my posts on the writing process to see how I have changed and progressed as an author.

So welcome, have a browse and tell your friends that this is the place to find out anything you wish to know about my books. I’ve missed you all.

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