Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked the Warlord Trilogy, 28 Feb 2012
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 Well thought out...thought provoking with a good mixture of historical reference/mysticism......if you liked Bernard Cornwall's "The Warlord Trilogy" you'll love this book...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 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.’

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Editing again ..

 Tonight I start the final edit on 'The Flight of the Griffin' a daunting task as I'm gunna get tough n critical about the whole thing so when you get to read it, it glows, it draws you, it transports you on a roller coaster ride to another time and place ... or at least that's the idea:)
The Flight of the Griffin is a Young Adult Book that should be on Kindle by the End of March 2012

Early days ...

First time for a blog but an interesting chance to communicate with readers who may like my writing, hope that's you!

If you've never written a book it may come as a surprise to know that there are thousands of people writing all over the world. You first realise this when trying to get an agent and publisher only to find your manuscript arriving amongst several hundred others for that day. They're snowed under and spoilt for choice!

So we go the indie way and try to promote our own work.
So I published Shadowland on Amazon Kindle.
Buy on Amazon

It's a Kindle book and is actually the third book I have written. I started the book with just the first sentence not really knowing where it was going to go and it simply grew!

I started Shadowland when my first Book, The Flight of the Griffin, which I shall also put up onto kindle soon, was rejected by two publishers after an auction battle because there was ... too much magic in it? No idea what that was about.

Well, I hope you read Shadowland. There isn't too much magic .... no really, just a little:)

Ok, I'm off to edit The Flight of the Griffin one more time before I upload it to Amazon Kindle.