Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dark ages festival of Samhain



 - The summer’s end and coming of darkness -


Tonight we’re celebrating Halloween in our own very modern way with pumpkins, parties and trick or treats galore. But to find the origins of Halloween we have to firstly go back to the early Christian festival of 'All Hallow’s Eve,' celebrated as the night before ‘Hallowmas’ which later became known as All Saints Day. However, did you know that back in the dark ages, before Christianity came to Britain and the period where my story Shadowland takes place, there was also a festival celebrated at this time, and it was known as Samhain, which translates as summer’s end.

Samhain took place on or about the 31st October because it’s the day that falls midway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. To the tribes of dark age Britain, it was the last day of summer and the first day of winter - they only had two seasons.

In the villages, Samhain was a time of preparation for the long hard winter ahead. Last crops, hay and firewood were stored in well thatched huts and cattle brought down from the high summer pastures with those destined to be eaten, slaughtered as part of the Samhain celebration.

On the night of Samhain, two great fires were lit in the middle of the village and before the feasting the returning cattle and the people would walk between the walls of flame in a ritual of cleansing, throwing bones and offerings into the flames as they passed.

The superstitious people of the dark ages saw the night of Samhain and their fires as the time when the doorway to the Shadowland, the land of the spirits, became open and the two worlds would almost becoming one. In the dark ages village, old age was respected for its wisdom and dying was not feared but seen as part of the normal course of life, it was on the night of Samhain when the dead could be spoken to, advice sought and honoured ancestors who had passed into the Shadowland invited to feast with their families and loved ones. It was very auspicious if a child was born on the night of Samhain, for it was known that the child would become a druid or dreamer, one that could commune with the Shadowland.

So while you celebrate Halloween cast your mind back to the dark ages, peak into the Shadowland and take a glimpse of Samhain, it is, after all, your past and maybe you can invite your ancestors to join you!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Analysis of two days FREE on Amazon...

Shadowland was a FREE download on Amazon for two days....

...So how did it go?



I've participated in FREE days on Amazon before and, to be honest, I didn't promote those days very well. I certainly got less than a thousand downloads for my troubles. It did lead to an upturn in sales for a week or so after and I got a bunch of nice reviews, 25 so far with a 4.3 average which I'm delighted with.

However, for this return to offering my treasured book for FREE... the book I sweated over for more than a year before letting it lose into the world, I decided that if I was going to do it, then I would go for as many downloads as I could.

I Got 8,403 downloads in two days!

Well that made me happy! Most, 7,269, were in the US with a further 1,066 being in my native UK. I'm now watching to see how and if this translates into paid sales and more reviews... I shall keep you informed.

So how did I get so many downloads? 

I sent details of the free days to several websites and blogs that I am listing below. Most require a few days or even several weeks notice so it takes a little planning but if you're after downloads it's worth it.

I found the best sites to contact are:










If you are going to offer  your work for free, then good luck and may the reviews be with you!

Update.

 After two weeks I can report that I have had 172 paid sales since the FREE days, which I am delighted with. Unfortunatly, there have, so far, only been three reviews after those two weeks which may be because people have downloaded and not got to the book yet, or that downloaders as a majority delight in free books but feel no need to leave a review (I do request people to write a review in the back of the book) or it is still early days. We shall see....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Giveaway of Shadowland

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shadowland by C.M. Gray

Shadowland

by C.M. Gray

Giveaway ends October 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Interview on 'I Am A Reader, Not A Writer'

Thanks 'Inspired' Kathy for the visit to your awesome blog!

Visit 'I Am A Reader, Not A Writer' to read the interview and enter a giveaway for a signed copy of The Flight of the Griffin! 






Interview: 

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? A fire starter machine thingy... a fishing outfit and Maria Kirilenko to ...errr... play tennis with:)

What is one book everyone should read? Anything by John Steinbeck. It was only after reading his writing that I realised there really is a difference between an average writer and the very best. I can only aspire to one day come close to his level of work.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Green tea Ice cream available from my local sushi shop, it’s incredible!

One food you would never eat? Meat. I’ve been vegetarian for over thirty years ... cant quit remember why it all started now but it must have been a good idea at the time and the thought now of eating bits of cow etc just.... I’m pretty messed up on my food likes as I do eat fish. I guess Maria Kirilenko and I wouldn’t starve on that island at least.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. You should read The Flight of the Griffin because .....(cont.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Latest reviews for The Flight of the Griffin!


Latest Reviews for THE FLIGHT OF THE GRIFFIN by C.M. GRAY


1.      “Flight of the Griffin” by C.M. Gray has all the elements one could hope for from a MG/YA/Crossover fantasy adventure. Although it is about four younger boys (their ages always felt vague to me), it is written in a way that adults will certainly enjoy it as well. The crew of the boat The Griffin, Pardigan, Quint, Tarent, Loras, and their shape shifting companion Mahra (my personal favorite) embark on a quest to restore the balance of good and evil, all while being hunted by a demon and facing challenges. While the concept isn’t exactly new, the story felt original in its details and with the characters. The writing was strong and had very few errors from what I could tell. An enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of fantasy and adventure without hesitation. (5 stars) Karen Matthews.

2.      This book was fabulous, a real breath of fresh air! What lovely prose and vivid atmosphere C.M. Gray weaved into this fun novel! After reading the book then re-reading the description I feel like the synopsis doesn’t do it justice. Not that it is bad, just that there is so much more to this book that you really have to read in order to experience. From the magical creatures to the clever poems of the challenges (and the cool way they showed up on my kindle!), to the quirky mannerisms of Mahra and the twists you don’t see coming. This book was a wonderful experience and should not be missed. I’m definitely interested in continuing with this series and see where the story goes. (5 stars) BookPrincess Sophia.

3.      I didn’t expect to love this book but I did! For me good writing goes along way, and I was very impressed with C.M. Gray’s style. Although I believe “The Flight of the Griffin” is billed as a YA novel (meaning the main characters are juveniles), for some reason this book read as more adult to me. Not because of the content, just more in the voice and tone of the narrative. It just felt “older”, which for me is a good thing, but younger readers may not be able to connect as well. Also, visually there were many paragraphs that had long chunks of text, where it probably would have been better to have it broken up some, especially for a YA book. But again, I loved it and none of these things bothered me. I liked the vivid descriptions and felt like I was inside the story from the very beginning. I was happy to see that there is a sequel available (or coming soon) and you can be sure I’ll be reading that one as well! (5 stars) Kaylee Stevens.


4.      “The Flight of the Griffin” by author C.M. Gray is a young adult fantasy about four boys and their female/cat/owl, etc companion, who live in a world where magic is real (and treated as ordinary), and they alone can stop evil (CHAOS) from overtaking good (SOURCE). I must say I loved the mythology that C.M. Gray created, even if at times I was unsure as to the “rules” of this alternative existence. I felt like I could have done with some more world-building, because I always felt like the scenes were beautifully described, but not describing what I wish I knew more about. I could never get a real clear picture of the characters and what they looked like in my head, and sometimes wish I could have had a more intimate connection with their inner thoughts and turmoil. But maybe I am overthinking it and should just appreciate it for the fun and imaginative fantasy that it is. And it really is a wonderful novel that readers of all ages can enjoy. (4 stars) Carla Biggins.

5.      I read this book in one sitting. It was THAT good! One thing I have really been loving about this new explosion of MG/YA authors over the past few years is that they keep coming up with new and creative ways to improve upon existing themes. This is wonderful because there are certain themes, like good versus evil, which will never go out of style. But sometimes you can feel like you are reading the same story over and over. Well this was not the case with “The Flight of The Griffin”! I felt like I was reading a wholly original and creative fantasy where four boys (instead of the usual “chosen” one) embark on a perilous quest to save the world from evil. It never felt predictable or boring, but kept my fingers eagerly turning the pages anxious to see what would happen next. I highly enjoyed this book and think you will too! (5 stars) Stacy Decker.

6.      The Flight of the Griffin was the first book I’ve read by C.M. Gray, but I assure you it will not be the last! From the opening pages I was drawn into this exciting tale, and I admit I loved how our main protagonist was a street thief! After he accidentally steals some magical trinkets, he and his crew of miscreants find themselves on the adventure of a lifetime. I was thoroughly engaged from the opening pages and my interest never wavered until the closing lines. What I liked most about this book was that the story was constantly moving forward, never dwelling on something too long or rehashing backstory (a common mistake authors make, I have found). Instead we are swept up in this fantastical adventure and carried along for a magnificent ride. This is a very strong start for what promises to be a delightfully entertaining series! (5 stars) Brenda Maxwell.


7.      Life is in the balance between good and evil, order and chaos. Chaos is threatening to tip the balance in its favor, and it is up to Pardigan and his three friends to stop it. To do so they must follow a series of “challenges” that are revealed to them through a magic book and with a magic knife, and fulfill their duties even with a demon chasing after them. It is a great recipe for an exciting novel, but unfortunately I found the pacing to be too slow to ever really thrust me along.  While the story starts off strong, I thought it quickly slowed down and focused too much on mundane details and actions that weren’t really important,  and ended up bogging down the story. Also there were several instances of repetition, especially with explaining what the boy’s quest was and why they had to do it. This was not a bad book by any means, in fact I thought it was very good, just written in an easier pace than I would prefer for this type of story. But I believe that many people will really enjoy it so read and decide for yourself. (3-4 stars) Anabella “Bella Readz” Johnson.

8.      This is a hard book to review in just a paragraph, as there were many things that I really loved, and a few things that I though could be improved upon. First I have to say that I adored all of the characters, and thought they all felt really authentic. I loved that no one ever felt really cliché or stereotypical, and that each one had qualities that made them unique. I loved that our group of “heroes” were some kids living on an abandoned boat and were “magically” turned into different versions of themselves by way of a magical spell. I could go on and on about the things I liked, but those were my favorites. What I didn’t like so much was that I didn’t feel like there was much character development or real struggle of conflict…there was just a certain amount of tension I thought was lacking. And I thought the ending was a bit abrupt (boo), but that there is a sequel (yay!), which I will most definitely be interested in reading. I give this book a solid 4 stars, as I did really enjoy it and think others will too. (4 stars) Claire Middleton

9.      For me this book was just okay. I liked the premise and thought it had a lot of potential, but something just failed to grab me the way I thought it should. (Note, my daughter read it right after me an LOVED it…so there you go.) Something that struck me was the overall tone of the book…it felt and sounder more mature that a normal young adult novel. Like if I didn’t know that the boys were supposed to be younger I would have never known that they were. Also, I thought there was too much “telling” of events instead of “showing”, and was always kept at arm’s length from the action…like it was happening around me but not to me, if you know what I mean. Maybe it was because of the multiple pov’s and third-person omniscient narration, but I never quite knew what character I was “tuning into”, and that is something that is important for me to do. So much of this is probably just my personal preferences, as it was a decent story and as I mentioned my teenaged daughter loved it. It just wasn’t my cuppa. (3 stars) April Dawn.

10.  Sometimes I like reading books without having any idea what they are about so as not to influence my perceptions any. So I had no idea what this book was about when I started reading, but I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised! It is written in British English, so there are a few slight variations to spellings for the Americans, but it is nothing that is at all distracting. It is a fantasy where magic and evil are real and are everywhere. The leads are four young men, Pardigan, Tarent, Loras, Quint, and the guardian of their magical book, an intriguing young character named Mahra, whom we first meet as a cat, then as a bird, then a girl. She is a real scene stealer, in my opinion, and I’d like to read more about her in the future. There are plenty of colorful characters and perilous twists along the way, and if they fail in their task then the world will plunge into chaos (evil and darkness). Will they succeed? Only one way to find out! (5 stars) Darla Ortiz.

11.  This was an utterly charming story, one which I would have no hesitation having my children read. It is a “clean” fantasy suitable for all ages, but it is definitely geared toward the younger crowd. Fans of Harry Potter and The Inheritance Cycle will flock to this adventure that pits four boys against the forces of evil and a race against time to save the world from destruction. A well-written and tightly knit plot will appeal to all readers, not just fans of fantasy. It has a solid universal message that everyone can understand and appreciate. Highly recommend. (4 stars) Jenna Brewster.

12.  I give this book 5 stars!! Once I started I didn’t want to put it down until I had read the whole thing. First off we meet Paridigan who makes his living as a thief and lives on an abandoned boat (cool). He steals from the local merchant (which is okay apparently because the merchant is mean and unpleasant) and only later discovers that his ill gotten gains have more troublesome consequences than he’d ever imagined. What follows next is a nonstop adventure that hooked me. I thought the writing was beautiful and descriptive, and never felt too rushed. I could totally picture this book being made into a movie, because it feels like you ware watching one when you are reading it. Great read. (5 stars) Steph Coleman.

13.  I thought The Flight of The Griffin was simply wonderful and had many of my favorite ingredients for a great book. However, I did feel at times the pace slowed down quite a bit, and a few times I found myself skipping ahead at some places to get to more action. But there was on much going on, it wasn’t like I was “bored” just kinda anxious for the story to move faster. Something I appreciated was that I never felt like the story was just being told to me, but that I was experiencing it in real time as it happened to the characters. I felt a real connection to the world of Freya and to Pardigan and co, and other than the occasional slow pace I thought it was really good. I’m definitely interested in reading the next book in this series. (4 stars) Cale Owens.

14.  First off, the writing in “Flight of the Griffin” is great, and I don’t throw that word around loosely. I was genuinely impressed with the flowing narrative and thought it was excellently edited. Very professional and polished. I do however think that there is room for improvement, specifically in cutting down on some scenes that seemed to drag on just a little longer than was really necessary. The author did an excellent job of describing the scene and giving me a good idea of the character, but then he would just keep going, almost to the point of excess. I can’t say that I was overly fond of the use of the shifting point-of-view, as it always jars me out of the book. But I see the need for this particular literary technique and think it did help to tell a better story. I personally don’t care for it. The plot unfolded at a nice and natural pace and never felt rushed or contrived. The ending was satisfactory and leaves the door open for future installments. (4 stars) J.T. Thomas.

15.  “The Flight of the Griffin” by C. M. Gray is a wonderful book that felt familiar, yet was also fresh and original. Mr. Gray created a truly magical world that I never wanted to leave. I adored the way he envisioned his characters and how they interacted with each other, but also how he described them and their own quirks. I think despite the fact that he was bad, that Bartholomew Bask was my favorite. He was just so…ewwww! But I also loved Mahra. With life in the balance between good and evil, there is a race against time to find the three crystal skulls and reunite them at the right time and place. Of course this won’t be easy, not with a chaos demon tracking our main characters. But it is the danger and the sense of adventure that makes this wonderful book so addictive! Fans of fantasy and young adult adventure should definitely not miss this one. (5 stars) Jhonni Parker.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

House Millar interviews C.M.Gray

Read my Interview at House Millar!

http://networkedblogs.com/zIY90

 

Another great 5 Star review for The Flight of the Griffin!

Thanks Daniel at Book-O-Matic for the following great review!



Review- The Flight of the Griffin by C.M Gray

In a world of excitement, danger and fantasy, four crew members of a boat called "The Griffin" begin a journey to find the three crystal skulls that intend to save the world. The four crew members are Pardigan; the thief, Tarent; the priest, Quint; the fighter and leader and Loras; the magician. Accompanied by the shapeshifter, Mahra, the crew of The Griffin begin the journey by inheriting gifts from "The Book of Challenges". Each gift is unique to that person and they use their gifts to help them on the thrilling quest. Faced by hardships such as demons and riddles, the crew and Mahra intend to save the world whether or not it means sacrificing themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it was something very original and unique. I absolutely loved how Gray described each and every scene of the novel in extraordinary detail, especially the parts where they are battling. Each character is described comprehensively and each emotion is displayed upon the hardships and excitement found throughout the quest. In a series of unexpected parts in the novel, the crew are allied with the people chasing after them against one common enemy; Belial, the "King of demons". An exciting yet terrifying battle between Order and Chaos unfolds the mysteries behind the riddles of The Book of Challenges. 

 I also liked how the book shifts perspectives for not only the protagonist, but the antagonist as well. In many other books, only the perspective of the protagonist is shown, therefore not revealing how they feel. This is one of the many qualities that I loved in this book. There are parts of the novel that have a little added humor which I thought was extremely clever and it lead me to liking it even more. I was extremely glad when C.M Gray sent this to me as it was truly an exciting tale filled with mystical creatures, magic, the chance for adventure and everything else you can think of. There are absolutely no flaws in this novel and I am proud to say that it is an enticing read. 

The cover of this novel really shows the adventure encountered throughout the novel. The Griffin (in bird form) that was standing on The Book of Challenges was puzzling to me at first but that was before I was half way through the novel. It was a really clever idea and I won't say anymore until you read this. The scarlet red droplets of blood I'm guessing symbolize the hardships faced throughout the novel and the compass is showing the direction of where this enchanted quest has lead the crew.

Overall, I believe that this book should be in the top five of everyone's TBR pile no matter how old you are, as it truly is a great journey to experience with the crew of The Griffin.

5 Stars *****

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review for The Orphan Stone by Rod Tyson




The Orphan Stone by Rod Tyson is pretty much hard to put down once you start the book, just don’t get past about mid way after the hours of darkness! This can be one scary book with one nasty witch come spirit that freaks out our heroin, poor old hippy Salem.

It’s a great story as Salem, her mum and some friends go to an old manor to do some restoration. Things don’t go too smoothly after the discovery of some old bones, children’s bones in a secret room. Some rather grisly murders send Salem and friends on the chase against ‘Red Meg,’ (and boy, is she red) and a few creepy locals.

I loved the 'flash back' parts of the story where we find that the manor was once an old workhouse and cooton mill. The ghosts that Salem keeps seeing are the children that were once forced to work there.

I loved this book. Rod is a great writer and storyteller I enjoyed his first book, curse of Ancient Shadows so I downloaded this, its even better! I can’t recommend this highly enough; just read it with the lights on!

Well deserved 5 *****

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shadowland is now available in paperback on lulu!


Shadowland is now available on lulu as a paperback!

Aimed at the teen readership but also being enjoyed by adults, Shadowland was missing out on many teen readers who apparently, do not yet fuly embrace ebooks ... is that right? What do you think?

I've been asked by many to produce a proper paperback version so here it is!
Click the picture to follow the link.

Review - Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk Adventure by Jaq Hawkins


In a steam punk world reminiscent of Victorian London, a world where steam powered airships roam the sky and it would seem everyone and his mother succumb to the tempting embrace of opium and rum, a robbery sets the story for an adventure around the skies.

The thieves head off in their airship, captained by the incredible Captain Bonny, while the luckless Dudley, clerk of the dubious victim, Mr Wyatt gives chase.

The character of Captain Bonny is extremely well developed as he tempts the fates with his flirtations with Aide, goddess of the storm winds, always sailing a little too close to a storm so that he might feel a connection with her.

I thought this was a really well put together story that drew me along entertaining all the way. I look forward to exploring other books by this author.

Monday, May 21, 2012


 The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Review of The Hunger Games by

After hearing so much about The Hunger Game I finally had to give it a go. I'm really glad that I did.

A great concept set in post apocolyptic North America with the young of each district having to put their names forward to fight in the hunger games each year. The citizens are made to enjoy the anticipation of being chosen and each killing in the events itself which are beamed live 24hrs back to the poplulace.

The characters are well developed and you spend anxious moments as each kiling comes close. Following the attempts of two contestants from the same village in district 12, Katness Everdeen and Peeta they are driven towards murder as they attempt to survive.

The story flows beautifully and although the concept of the hunger games is a terrible unthinkable thing, it does come across as a very real possbility especially in this mad world we live in today!

This doesn't need mor eof a review apart fromread this book. It is put forward as a young adult book but I think most adults would find this a superbly entertaining read.
I'm looking forward to  book 2.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gremlins in the words...

Like many authors I thought I had teased out all the typos, inconsistancies and wayward comas from my books, only to read with dismay that I was receiving a three star review for lack of editing! Oh my.... I hung my head in shame, I muttered dark thoughts in the general direction of past editors... I pulled my books from the public eye. But now Shadowland is back, shiny as a new pin and ready to be judged by the world once more. Thanks Kris from Final Edit and thanks (really) to the few (thankfully) who pointed out the few faults still there. I guess we only learn from our mistakes and I'm left with a far better book to offer my readers, yippee! The Flight of the Griffin is also getting a big once over and will be back soon...I hope! I miss Pardigan and the crew:(

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Flight of the Griffin on Kindle!

The Flight of the Griffin is now available on Amazon kindle!

Living in their old boat ‘The Griffin’ five young characters become the unlikely heroes at the end of time when a burglary sets them on the path to finish the ‘Last great Spell’ - a spell to stop the balance of the World tipping into Chaos...

They become the Magician, Thief, Priest and Fighter when a magical book guides them upon a quest that pits them against magic, demons and ‘The Hawk,’ an evil hunter of men.

Join a race against time to find three crystal skulls that must be brought together, while all the forces of Chaos try everything to stop them!
Buy on Amazon.com
Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Sneak preview.....

Chapter 1

An uncommon evening


The floorboard creaked under the sole of his felt boot - a calculated risk whenever entering a sleeping man's room uninvited.
A breeze fluttered the loose linen curtain, and the sleeper stirred at the welcome respite from the hot sticky night. The prowler slowly exhaled the breath that was starting to burn in his lungs, every sense tingling, receptive to any change in the room or a sound from the street below.
The sleeper, thankfully, continued to sleep.
The street under the second-storey window was silent, the night given up to the occasional rounds of the city watch and those set on a darker business, the never-ending cat and mouse game that went mostly unappreciated by the law-abiding citizens of the sleeping city.
The summer had been one of the hottest people could ever remember, taxing the energy of the city’s inhabitants to the limit. Several of the more elderly citizens down at the port could be heard explaining that, ‘in their day’, the summers were often this hot, and indeed often hotter. Of course, these were the same group who would entertain the regulars at the portside taverns with tales of goblin hordes, ferocious sea serpents or the time the winters were so cold that the seas had frozen solid.
‘A man could have walked from here to Minster Island without ever seeing a boat or even getting his feet wet,’ was a much-repeated reminiscence. Whatever history really concealed, it was a hot summer, and this, a particularly humid night.
Pardigan watched the now softly snoring form and, moving his foot from the traitorous board, crept towards the cabinet that he knew held his prize. It was an elegant cabinet - its construction given over to more than mere function. Gracefully curved legs supported drawers and shelves that were fronted by a scrollwork of intricate designs. He inserted the blade of his knife between the edges of the middle left-hand drawer and felt for the hidden catch. If the information Quint had given him was correct, the false front should spring open. A prickle of sweat tickled his brow and he wiped it absently away. Glancing over to the still-sleeping form, he applied a little more pressure on what he hoped was the catch.
Nothing.
The merchant stirred, smacked his chops, exhaled wetly and then returned to snoring. Pardigan tried again.
Most people hated the fat merchant, known for his cheating ways and vile temper, so he and Quint had set about the business of planning the robbery with great enthusiasm. The break had come quite by chance when Quint had met the apprentice of a cabinetmaker who’d been happy to talk about the merchant, and the cabinet he’d helped his master build for him.
‘The shame of it is that the true beauty of the cabinet will never be appreciated,’ the apprentice had moaned. ‘Such a cunning mechanism my master contrived to conceal the hidden safe-box, nothing of the like have I seen before, nor I fear will I ever see again.’ He had been all too happy to describe and even sketch the piece for Quint who, of course, had shown great interest, marvelling at the skill of the cabinetmaker and, naturally, his gifted apprentice. Several glasses of elder ale had kept his new friend’s throat well lubricated, an investment in tonight’s escapade that they had both placed huge hopes in.
Up until this point, the information seemed to be good; the cabinet did indeed look like the sketch that he and Quint had spent so much time studying. Pardigan’s hopes had soared when he’d first set eyes on it as he was slipping over the windowsill. Right up until now, that is as his frustration grew. Because the Source damned catch simply wouldn’t shift - if catch it was. Pardigan was beginning to wonder if the real catch hadn’t been poor old Quint, whom the apprentice had conned into buying several glasses of elder ale on another blisteringly hot day.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Flight of the Griffin Cover Finished!

Took me ages to come up with this cover, comments would be appreciated, thanks in advance.

The Flight of the Griffin will be available on amazon Kindle in the next few days.

Back cover Synopsis.


Living in their old boat ‘The Griffin’ five young characters become the unlikely heroes at the end of time when a burglary sets them on the path to finish the ‘Last great Spell’ - a spell to stop the balance of the
World tipping into Chaos...

They become the Magician, Thief, Priest and Fighter when a magical book guides them upon a quest that pits them against magic, demons and ‘The Hawk,’ an evil hunter of men.

Join a race against time to find three crystal skulls that must be brought together, while all the forces of Chaos try everything to stop them!
..........................................................................................................................................................

Anyone that would like a free copy for review on their blog or for a review on Amazon, please contact me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Cover and Formatting Issues

The new cover for Shadowland - thanks Jussy, much more dark n moody:)





Formatting Issues.

Like many authors I am on a big learning curve when it comes to formatting and promoting my ebooks.

Uploading to the kindle program on Amazon was painless enough, that was until I wanted to update some of the text and change the cover. All of a sudden, I had to become some sort of computer programmer, or so it seemed it to me.  I managed to work my way through so I thought I would share a few of the links and programmes that have helped me so far on this blog.
If you are looking to offer giveaways or send copies of your ebook anywhere, you have to be able to offer several different versions to potential readers and reviewers. I offer pdf, mobi for kindle and epub for most other e readers.
To make a pdf from my book, which was written in 'Word,' I can highly recommend a free programme called PDF redirect. Even for a complete computer fool like me it was easy to do.
Most people are going to ask for a mobi file and the easiest I have so far found is MobiPocket creator, another free programme that does exactly as it says on the box. I tried several other programmes that did help me create a mobi file, but they all had various issues with formatting, more about formatting in a moment. To finish on programmes, the last I recommend authors checking out is Calibre. Calibre will change the format into epub or kindle, but do watch out for formatting problems if you haven't done a perfect formatting job.

Which leads me into formatting - so important, so boring and yet so necessary. KDP at amazon and Smashwords have great articles and there is a great article here showing what needs to be done. Just discovering there was a formatting show/hide button in word was a revelation to me! How was I to know that there is all kind of code going on in the background that means stuff and gives strange commands when you come to make up your ebook. Page breaks for instance, wow, you need to instruct where to break the page? Yep!

Oh, and how to put in your table of contents! You can find that stuff here, and you really do need to do it yourself.

So, once we've done all that were finished? ... well did you think about a cover? I have been very fortunate to find a fellow member of the goodreads community, Jussy who has helped me turn my lame cover into something far more likely to sell a few books – thanks Jussy!
So now I have done all that, Shadowland is up and ready to send out and sell again ... editing is nearly finished on Flight of the Griffin .... but I need to make up a cover ..ahhhhh, here we go again!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Silver Knight



Description:

A Struggle Against Evil—Love Through the Ages—A Destiny to Fulfill

When seventeen-year-old Diana recognizes an elderly priest in a video on YouTube, she realizes that reincarnation is real and that she’s been alive before! Every night in her dreams, she views her past lives learning that it’s kill or be killed.

Now a bishop at the Vatican whom she saved in another life calls on her once more. She is needed to help defeat an infestation of demons living within the catacombs of Rome. But when she arrives in Rome, she meets Alexander – the man of her dreams! Through the centuries she has loved him…betrayed him...been killed by him. Will she give him another chance or this time will she strike first?

Silver Knight takes you on an adventure where demons and heroes from the past blend with history, action, and just a hint of romance.


5 Star Review:
“All I could think once I started reading this book was WOW! My only warning is that once you start reading this story you are not going to be able to put it down!” –Readers Favorite (Read more at: http://readersfavorite.com/review/5699)

Caron Rider’s Bio:

I began teaching adults to use computer software, hardware, and networking back in the 1990s. After several years, my clients became younger and younger until I found myself tutoring high school dropouts to pass the GED. I found working with at-risk teenagers so rewarding that I changed her undergraduate major to Education.

Upon graduating from the University of South Alabama with a B.S., I began teaching high school history and I continue to teach history classes online. I now live in rural Missouri with my two kids, two dogs, two cats, and father.

Some useful links:
Twitter: Caron_Rider

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne


Hounded by Kevin Hearne is really is one of those books I wish I had written, or at least come up with the idea! If you're an author then you know what I mean! I liked it so much that it is the first of my special reviews on this blog.

So, Hounded is a well written thoroughly engaging read that really is hard to put down. This lad Kevin Hearne has the craft in his veins!

The story follows an old Irish druid, Atticus O'Sullivan, who actually only looks to be 21 as he has a few disagreements with various fairies(Fay)ancient gods and police authorities!

Living in a 'Specialist' bookshop in Arizona with his Irish wolfhound 'Oberon,' who is a great character that Atticus can speak with in such a way that dog lovers everywhere would wish they had the same connection with their canine friend. The adventures of Atticus draw the reader easily along in a humorous, fantastical yet not at all corny visit to the other side of life's possibilities. His befriends old Irish gods, makes enimies of a few and pulls out a little of his Irish magic to help him through.

I dont know if this were written for Young Adults or adults, I think it is basically for anyone that isn't put off by a little fantasy!

I will certainly be looking to read the next books in the series' Hexed'.
Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked the Warlord Trilogy, 28 Feb 2012
By 
Vincent - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shadowland (Kindle Edition)
An excellent and interesting re-telling of one of historys' great stories. Or rather the pre-story of the Arther legend. Well thought out...thought provoking with a good mixture of historical reference/mysticism......if you liked Bernard Cornwall's "The Warlord Trilogy" you'll love this book...

Ok,just had to share this review on my blog .... Bernard Cornwall's name in a five star reveiw about my book, yeayyyy! Thank you Vincent:)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shadowland for review -Five ebooks to give away free!

In an effort to get a few reviews on Shadowland, I'm giving five ebooks away free to the first five people who contact me for one. I only ask that 'if' you like the book, you post a 'small' review on Amazon to help boost my profile:) So will you help me? Let me know by email at cgray129@gmail.com Thanks for your help:)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book excerpt from Shadowland (Chapter three)



  'The Shadows of the Night'
 
Usher shivered, sneezed and then wiped a long smear of snot on the grass beside him before returning his attention to the hawthorn branch.
    ‘It’s going to rain again,’ observed Cal gloomily. ‘Do you think we have enough dry wood for the fire later?’
    ‘Wood we have. All we need is to catch something to cook over it and we’ll be sorted for tonight.’ Meryn pulled his line in, inspected the offered worm, and then cast it out into the pond again. Thunder rumbled in the distance and a chill breeze chased ripples across the surface of the pond.
    ‘I don’t remember comfy,’ sniffed Cal. ‘My fingers are too cold to tie this stupid thing. Usher...’
    ‘In a minute, I’m nearly done.’ Usher sneezed again then dragged his sleeve across his nose.
    ‘What are you messing about with, boy, didn’t you ever fish before?’
    Usher glanced up at the grinning face of Meryn Link and decided to ignore him. The knack of tying a hawthorn hook was firstly to cut it from the branch properly, which he had now carefully done, and then to make sure that you tied not one, but two parts of the thorn securely, that way the fish wouldn’t be able to pull free of the line when it was snagged. It wasn’t easy, especially when the line you were using was strips of thin bark platted patiently by the light of a campfire. Of course, Meryn had produced a carefully rolled line of platted horsehair for his own use, along with some well-carved bone hooks, which was the reason he was putting on that superior air – it was really beginning to annoy Usher.
    ‘Pass me a worm,’ he said, still concentrating on flattening his final knot.
    Cal poked about in the muddy bowl and produced a fat worm that curled and rolled lazily in his fingers.
    Usher glanced over. ‘Do you have a smaller one? One of those red ones? They move a lot better.’
    Cal sorted through; inspecting the various worms they had found and finally saw what Usher was looking for. He passed it over then returned to setting up his own line. The hawthorn kept pricking his fingers as he tried to tie it but his hands were so cold he couldn’t feel a thing anyway.
    ‘You two really think you’ll catch anything? I would have leant you one of my good bone hooks, but ...’
     ‘We’ll be fine,’ interrupted Usher. ‘Why don’t you just concentrate on your own line.’ Satisfied the worm was firmly lodged on his thorn, he hefted the rolled line and swung the wriggling offering close to a patch of ragged lily pads, close to where a stream of bubbles had just broken the surface.
    ‘You’ll be into a tench if you put your worm there. Nasty taste, all mud ’n slime they are.’ 
    Usher glanced across at Meryn, and then back at where his line was slowly disappearing below the cold green surface of the pond. He was too cold and miserable to answer.
    ‘I’m so hungry,’ muttered Cal. ‘I’m sick of porridge and dry old oat cakes. We have to catch a fish.’ He shivered and blew on his hands trying to revive some feeling so he could tie his line round the fiddly thorn.
    ‘Don’t eat them worms, boy.’
    ‘I won’t eat the worms, Meryn. But I’d eat a tench if usher catches one.’
    ‘Nasty muddy things, tench. Summer fish, sit at the bottom eating all the stuff other fish drop or can’t get hold of ... and they eat the stuff the other fish ...’
    ‘Well then catch something else. We’ve not eaten anything decent in days. If we catch a tench then Usher and I can ...’ Cal jumped up. ‘Usher, your line!’
    Usher’s line pulled tight against his fingers and quickly began moving round to the left. He yanked it hard and felt the satisfying pumping of a fish fighting for its life on the other end. It was trying to get back into the lilies and he knew he had to turn it. Ignoring the pain as the line bit into his hand, he concentrated on trying to coax it out into open water.
    ‘Don’t let it get caught up.’ Cal flung himself down flat in the mud and hung over the edge of the pond ready to help get the fish out.
    ‘It’ll only be a tench,’ muttered Meryn. Usher continued to ignore him.
    ‘Here it comes, Cal, get it,’ cried Usher. He stood, careful not to slip down the bank into the icy water and drew more line in. With a flap that sent a spray of water up onto Meryn, the fish broke surface and rolled on its side, exhausted, one beady red eye looking up at him.
    ‘Get it, Cal.’
    Braving the cold water, Cal scooped the slippery green fish up and it flopped and flapped in his hands, for a moment, it looked like he was going to drop it, but then he turned away from the water hugging it to his chest and grinned up at Usher. Meryn peered across and shook his head. ‘Tis a tench’
    ‘We eat!’ exclaimed Cal, smiling up at Usher.
    ‘We eat, but maybe Meryn would rather eat more stone-hard oatcakes? Come on, Meryn, catch us something else.’
    ‘I Will, boy. I’m not beaten yet.’
    Sometime later, as the setting sun was making a brief appearance below gathering clouds, a tench stew was cooking over the fire. Three tench had been caught – two by Usher, the other by Cal. They had washed them of slime and then cleaned the flesh thoroughly before putting them in the pot. No other fish had been caught, and for once, Meryn had to grudgingly admit defeat – the stew was delicious.
    It rained in the night but beneath a shelter of reeds, Usher slept with a full stomach and woke with enough energy to meet the day, even if it was a day that started with weapons training.
**** 

See below for the Prologue to Shadowland.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shadowland by C.M.Gray (Prologue)




Prologue - The storyteller

‘My name is Usher Vance, and mine has been a long and interesting life - or so I’ve been told before in company such as this.’ Brushing back a long strand of silver-grey hair, the old man gazed about at the small audience of expectant faces and settled himself more comfortably into the familiar leather chair. Over the years he had come to regard the chair as his own and, like an old friend, was all too aware of its weaknesses and strengths. It creaked and sagged and he responded in a similar fashion, rearranging his somewhat considerable bulk as he fumbled for pipe and tobacco. His fingers began charging the clay bowl with motion requiring little thought and he smiled, relishing the delight of spinning yet another tale.
    ‘I have lived more years than I can remember.’ He leaned forward to better study a few of his nearest listeners. ‘Probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and heathen warriors have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones, vowing to search all seven halls of Hell to find me.’    
    Several of the younger villagers in the room fidgeted and cast about for the reassuring sight of a parent or friend, but most simply stared at the old man with eager expressions, impatient for the tale, any tale, to begin.
As the summer had turned to autumn and, more recently, as the first cold days settled a wintry grip upon the land, the villagers had gossiped and speculated upon the subject of Usher’s story for this year.
    The night of midwinter’s eve was a special night in the village and the event had been celebrated with feasting, dancing, and one of Usher Vance’s stories for as many years as anyone could remember. For most of the year, the old man kept to himself and was reluctant to part with any of his tales. Tales that when finally offered, were told as being episodes of his life, although this was rarely held to be true amongst the villagers. Each year, after clearing the remains of the meal from the long communal table, they would drift towards the huge fireplace, each finding his own place on the assortment of mismatched chairs and benches, but leaving the old stuffed leather chair ready for the storyteller.
    The clay pipe glowed as the storyteller drew heavily upon it, building the heat as he slowly built the atmosphere within the room.  At last, content that the pipe was good and lit, he blew out a long blue cloud of smoke, threw the taper into the fire, and pointed the stem towards several of the closest faces.
    ‘I see some of our younger friends gathered here tonight, but as long as they care not for troubled sleep in the weeks to come, then a story I shall tell … but what part of this life shall I lay before you?’ He sat back and sighed, bushy white eyebrows coming together in a thoughtful frown. ‘A tale of treasure and treachery, or love and war, what shall it be? So many years I have lived and so many things I have seen. Yet we only have these hours of darkness this mid winter’s eve, only enough time to fill the night with one true tale.’ He pulled on his pipe once more, and then reached over to lift a leather tankard to his lips. The villagers watched silently as the old man drank, heedless of the ale that escaped to run through his beard onto the stained waistcoat. Wiping his mouth upon his sleeve, he gazed about and judged it was almost time to begin; he was almost ready to cast the spell of a master storyteller.
    The innkeeper stepped forward and set another log upon the fire, the flames crackled and spat, drawing everyone’s attention for a moment. A curl of smoke wafted out, escaping the confines of the chimney and filled the air with a sweet rich scent as the fire continued to crackle angrily. To minds freshly laid open, ready for a tale, it was as if a wild animal had been thrown a hunk of meat and was devouring it hungrily before them.
    ‘I think I now have something in mind,’ broke in the storyteller, reclaiming his audience, ‘a tale that has been some time in coming. T'is a tale of battle and of love, of rescue … and betrayal. So please, make yourselves comfortable and we can begin.’
    ‘Once, when I was considerably younger than I am now, I met a king upon a hill. I knew him at once to be a king by the finery of his clothes and by his horse that was as white as the purest snow, and as spirited as …’ A sound broke the concentration of the room and the storyteller stopped and stared back towards the door. The latch was rattling as someone tried unsuccessfully to gain entrance - a murmur filled the room as the villagers bemoaned the untimely interruption. The sound continued and the grumbling quickly became calls for someone to aid whoever it was so the storyteller could continue.
    Muttering incoherently, the innkeeper tugged back the heavy curtain that covered the door, keeping at bay all but the most insistent of draughts, and the audience turned once more to Usher Vance who had taken the opportunity to drain his leather mug. He passed it over, and then smiled in thanks as a serving girl exchanged it for a fresh one. After taking a sip, he readied himself to continue.
    The sound of the door opening and someone being invited in was accompanied by a gust of frigid air that chased about the room; it was, however, all but lost on the audience as they settled once more, eager for the tale to go on. The door slammed and the heavy wooden bolts drawn back into place; hopefully as a barrier to any further disturbance.
    Usher Vance cleared his throat and continued. ‘It was a fine day as I recall, with a sky of the deepest blue and a mere dusting of high cloud to offer some contrast to its perfection. The sun shone down upon us as if it were a light cast from the heavens above, purely to illuminate the splendour of this king and his noble mount. The rest of the king’s party were some distance away. He must have ridden to the top of the hill to take in the view alone, and was clearly as startled to see me, as I was to see him.  I remember bowing low while the king attempted with little success to control his dancing horse, its nostrils flaring in agitation at finding me enjoying the beauty of the day – clearly both king and horse had thought, until I had disturbed them, that they were alone.
    ‘Good day to you, sire,’ I said, gazing up into a pair of icy blue eyes. ‘My name is Usher Vance and I apologise for the fright I brought upon your horse.’
    Before he could continue, a soft dry voice broke the spell of the tale, cutting into the concentration of the audience and causing Usher to falter.
    ‘Still spouting stories of utter rubbish then, are you, Usher?’
    The storyteller cast about the shadows, trying to see who had disturbed him. As he did, several in his audience spoke up, encouraging him to ignore the interruption and continue, while others hissed into the gloom in search of the unwelcome speaker. Somewhat unsettled, but seeing his audience still keen, Usher Vance drew upon his pipe and readied himself to go on, but the voice returned at the moment he opened his mouth.
    ‘He makes them up, and for some reason, keeps the real history of his life a closely guarded secret. Do you think he has a greater story that he chooses to hide?’
    A frown creased Usher's face as he sought out the heckler. Everyone had turned towards the door and as Usher looked over, he felt the first low feelings of a strange foreboding enter into the pit of his stomach. In the fireplace another log burnt through and settled causing flames to leap up, brightening the faces of the villagers and revealing for the first time a stooped figure by the door.
    The stranger, leaning heavily upon a thick staff, was cloaked from head to foot in a dark material that glistened with droplets of rain, freshly brought in from the cold winter night.
    ‘Why don’t you tell them a real story, Usher? Why don’t you tell them who Usher Vance really is, and where he came from, instead of prattling on like some old fool with no life worth the telling of?’ The stranger took a step forward and, raising a cold white hand, drew the hood from his head. There were several drawn breaths and a whisper of speculation from the villagers as they watched this unexpected drama unfold before them.
    The stranger pulled his eyes from Usher and gazed about him. ‘You have a personality of sorts before you, but not the one you thought you had.’ Usher felt the blood drain from his face as the shock of recognition crept upon him. He felt the clay pipe drop from his mouth but was only vaguely aware of the sound it made as it connected with the stone floor, breaking in two with the slightest of clinks.
    ‘No welcome, Usher?’ The stranger moved over to crouch down at the storyteller's feet. ‘I have made a long and terrible journey to find you, old friend - one I shall reveal another time. For now though, I beg you tell us a real story, Usher Vance, not one of your fancies. Why not tell of how two boys chanced upon some wolves and saw the world they knew come to an end. Talk to us, Usher Vance, it’s been so many years and my memories have all but deserted me.’
        It took some moments while Usher considered the sparse white hair and the mottled, almost grey skin as the dancing flames of the fire revealed the stranger’s features. Finally, it was the eyes that spoke to him of another time and another person - they still blazed with an intensity that he had all but forgotten. Sighing, as he collected his wits from where they had deserted him to the furthest corners of his mind, he addressed the visitor.
    ‘Good evening, Calvador. Forgive me being somewhat bewildered; recognition was a little hard in coming after all these years. You always did like to make an entrance, didn’t you?’ He glanced around at the expectant faces and smiled as he accepted another clay pipe. Reaching out, he squeezed the shoulder of the kneeling figure and stared down into the cold, almost yellow eyes. ‘It’s good to see you, old friend. Will you stay to hear an old man’s story?’
    ‘I will stay to hear your story, Usher Vance, but a story of two old men, not one. Two old men that were once boys - forced to grow up far too quickly. And I would also appreciate a chair and a mug of something warming, if that is not too much to ask.’
    As one of the villagers helped him up into a chair by the fire, the innkeeper fetched mulled wine and a bowl of broth. ‘Please, begin, Usher. I hunger for memories of times past.’ Accepting the broth, he blew steam from its surface before taking a tentative sip - after a moment he looked up. ‘It has been a long time since I tasted anything quite so good, thank you.’ The innkeeper nodded and resumed his seat.
    Seeing the room was at last settled, Usher gathered himself once more; ready to begin a tale he hadn’t prepared, yet surely knew better than any other. ‘My name is Usher Vance and this ... this is my friend, Calvador Craen.’ The old storyteller gazed about at the small audience of expectant faces and then settled back. ‘We have both lived long and somewhat interesting lives, a little of which I shall try to recall for you now.’ He drew upon his newly lit pipe and nodded in appreciation. ‘Between us we are very likely to be far older than you may think. Let me start at the beginning … at the end of a beautiful day … many, many years ago.’