Sunday, April 29, 2012

Six sentence Sunday: the vampire edition

Portrait of a female vampire borrowed from 123RF photos
The pop-culture vampire craze bugs me. So what more logical response than to take this week's six-sentence excerpt from the part of The Bones of the Earth that introduces my vampires?

Not logical, you say? Well, I don't write about cute, sexy, romantic vampires. No, mine are horrifying bloodsuckers.

Six sentences: enter the vampire

Context: this excerpt is from Part Two: Tests. The MC, Javor, his mentor, Photius, and their recently rescued damsel in distress, Danisa, are walking south in Dacia toward the limes, the border of the Roman Empire. They camp for the night. The two men are supposed to take watch in turn, but both fall asleep one dark, dark night. Javor dreams about his old girlfriend:

Her hands roamed over his naked skin, and her kisses became nips and bites. She kissed his throat hard, sucking the skin into her mouth until it hurt.

A sharp pain penetrated his neck, and his eyes flew open as he gasped. The sun was gone the sky was dark, and Javor felt cold. He was back in the night under the oak tree, and there was a terrible pain in his neck. He groped at it and felt something … hairy.
Want to find out more? Want to read about vampires who are not friendly and pretty (for a change, at least)? Click the tab at the top of the page for the first chapter, or order the e-book from Amazon or Smashwords.
Visit more six-sentence samples on Six Sentence Sunday.
And please, leave a comment below!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The best and worst of DG Torrens

This instalment of “the best and worst” is by mother, author and blogger DG Torrens. Her blog, My Books and I, covers the writer’s experience as well as book reviews and previews of her own book (kind of like this one).

As usual, I am contributing a guest post on her blog. But read this first!


The best thing that has come from my writing…

The best thing that has come from my writing is the ability to inspire others. Amelia’s Story is my true story, a very hard read for anybody but especially for parents. Since publishing my story, I have received messages from all over the world, telling me how my story has inspired them personally. I cannot tell you how this has made me feel. I cried, I smiled, and I replied to each one of those messages I received. I had messages from people who had suffered like me, who had given up on themselves for a long time, but my story gave them hope. To have inspired people in this way is the single most amazing thing that has come out of my writing. I am a great supporter of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ( and Barnardo’s (, and through my writing I am able to give back by donating a percentage of all my sales to these charities.

Another great thing that has come from my writing is the amount of wonderful people, mainly other indie authors, that I have met over the past 12 months and who have now become great friends. The overwhelming support and advice I have received has been incredibly humbling. The indie world is an amazing network of authors, all helping each other and promoting each other. When I first published my book, I was a complete novice! However, the advice I have received along the way from other indie authors has armed me well for my second book, Amelia's Destiny (due out in May). I have learned so much about myself through my writing journey that has had a positive affect on my life.

Finally, I have realized my dream, a dream I have had since I was a child. One that seemed so far away at the time I never thought it would happen!

The worst thing that has come from my writing…

The very worst thing that has come from my writing was my over-eagerness to publish my first book. I once read somewhere that authors who edit their own books have not had their books edited at all. As far as I am concerned, truer words have never been spoken! I made the fatal mistake of editing my first book. When it went “live,” there were a few typos. These of course have been corrected now.

I learned a very valuable lesson: employ an editor — that is the best thing indie authors can do for themselves if they can afford it. For me, there is no option from now on. My next two books are currently in the hands of editing professionals. I realize now that we don’t always spot our own mistakes. You need fresh eyes to glance over your work; beta readers are another great resource. I learned a very important lesson, one that I will never forget!

Another thing that I have discovered is that not everyone will have great things to say about your work. No matter what genre you write in, or how well you have written a book and told a story, there will always be someone that it won’t appeal too. Everyone has different tastes — it’s as simple as that. One person may give you a five-star rating, but another may give you one star. I have learned to separate myself from this and just appreciate that people have taken the time to download and read my work, whatever their opinion is at the finish. This is the nature of the business we are in; we have to take the bad with the good. It’s not always easy though!

About me…

As a mother of a three-year-old princess, a blogger and a writer, my time is very limited. I write into the early hours of the morning, when my house is quiet. Writing is my passion, and I want to write books that people just love to read. I also love to write poems, which are currently unpublished; however, I hope one day to publish my collection of heartfelt poems, too. Writing gives me wings, it gives me freedom, and I could not imagine my life without writing!!

A big thank you to Scott for inviting me here today, it is truly a great pleasure.

DG, or Dawn Torrens is the author of Amelia’s Story, available on Amazon, and the soon-to-be-released sequel, Amelia’s Destiny. She lives in Birmingham, UK.

Read Dawn's page on goodreads.
Visit her blog, My books & I, and leave comments!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Evolution of Insanity - addictive and subversive

An independent book review

To read Evolution of Insanity is to admit that the world is not perfect, to learn to adapt to the reality of the world and to see just where your own behaviour could be construed as insane, or even offensive to someone with a perspective necessarily different from your own.

I thought Evolution of Insanity would be a novel, or at least a set of linked stories with an overall arc, but it seems to be a collection of the Haresh Daswani's storeis, essays and poems. While there is no story link, the individual entries are linked by Daswani's wry humour and razor-sharp observations.

The entries in the book include short stories (some very short), absurdist observations of the vagaries of everyday life; observations on social trends; essays on religion, life and people; and even a few poems.

I have to admit, I was put off at first by the large number of grammatical, punctuation and typographical errors. But these are more than offset by the humour and underlying honesty of the work. That's what I mean by accepting imperfection: there is much to enjoy in this book. I found myself smiling, even laughing several times; but more often, I found myself recognizing the characters as people I had met in my own life.

Some of it is absurd, sure. But it's all grounded in Daswani's ability to see what people are really doing, and analyzing so accurately the often twisted thought process behind those actions. Ultimately, it makes us question how logical or straightforward our own thought processes and actions are. Do I do those things? Do I stare at inanimate objects for inspiration while writing about something completely different, like the author in the first vignette?

Grammatical problems aside, Daswani's book is enjoyable and interesting. You cannot stop reading it once you stop. So maybe the best description is subversive and addictive.

No. It's a positive force in the world. Just buy it, read it and let the rest of the world know what you think.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reviews of The Bones of the Earth:

I try not to brag, but on the other hand, if you don’t promote your own work as an independent author, no one else will, either.

And I’m quite proud of the number of very positive reviews my first novel, The Bones of the Earth, has received in different places. So I thought I would compile excerpts from them. Follow the links to read the full text.

Thanks to everyone who has written so nicely about my work.

Marilou George, blogger: Confessions of a Reader, and reviewer for the Kindle Book Review

I found this story to be amazingly detailed, thought provoking and captivating on many levels. It is very apparent that a tremendous amount of research went into the writing of this book and coupled with the amazing characters and plot twists I could not put this book down.

This story will keep you totally absorbed and the plot twists are never ending. The research involved in this book is undeniable. Scott Bury has managed to capture the quality of fantasy mixed with the historical reality of the times to present a truly remarkable and magical story. I highly recommend this book!

Read the original review on Amazon.

Elise Stokes, author of the Cassidy Jones series of middle-grade/young adult novels

I don’t usually read fantasy, but after this novel it’s a genre I’ll explore more. Scott Bury is a talented storyteller and had clearly done his homework before launching into this one. His writing is solid and vivid.

Javor is a brilliant character: brave, fierce, loyal, compassionate, and autistic. Yes, the hero has Asperger’s. I applaud how thoughtfully and subtly Bury “shows” Javor’s disability. However, this story isn’t about Javor overcoming his disability. He is simply who he is: wonderful and heroic.

I have one caution, which I only give because I have seen this novel labeled as Young Adult. It contains explicit sexual content that makes it unsuitable for younger readers, in my opinion. So don’t make presumptions based on Javor’s age. The Bones of the Earth is not written for someone his age. It’s intended for an adult audience, which I highly recommend it to.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention my favorite scene, which is probably the most epic action scene I have ever read: a battle with a dragon. Talk about vivid! This is a scene that I hope one day to watch wide-eyed on “the big screen” while absently shoveling popcorn into my mouth. Bury sure knows how to choreograph and describe a fight.

Read the original review on goodreads.

KD Rush, author of the Rush Report blog 

With his debut novel, Scott Bury has firmly established his place in the fantasy genre. The plot is solid, the pace is quick, and the characters are well written. Typically I read two or three books at a time, jumping from one to the other between sittings. I was not able to do that with this one. My intention to read the first chapter or two failed miserably. Several hours later and I found myself half-way through the book.

When you follow the main character, Javor, you can expect excitement. What you can't expect are the plot twists. The most unforgivable sin in any form of storytelling is predictability. That is not an issue with this book. You never know what's around the next curve in the road, hidden in a dark cave, or even whom you can trust. Just when you think it's safe—WHAM!

The story pulls you in, and the action pushes you from one page to the next. It's a heck of a good story, and I highly recommend it.

Read the original review on goodreads.

Linda from goodreads

An excellent book. The writing mechanics were excellent. I generally do not read historical fantasy. I made an exception with this author and will do so again for him. He has a rare ability to evoke feelings in the reader. His work is not simply read, it is felt.

Read the original review on goodreads.

Kelly Banton from goodreads

A marvelous read—it is clear how much work went into this book.

Scott Bury's writing style is comfortable, and easy to lose yourself in. I spent the better part of a day stuck in the book, in spite of all the other things I had to do!

Read the original review on goodreads.

Gillian Andrews from goodreads

This a vivid and compelling first novel. Scott Bury has the knack of making his scenes spring to life, which should make it a strong contender for a film deal at some stage. The mix of real fact and history with fiction is potent, and the plot is nicely complex. Although the author describes his genre as “historical magic realism,” this is a great find for epic fantasy fans.

Read the original review on goodreads.

Reviewers of The Bones of the Earth, Part One: Initiation Rites

A couple of months before I published the full novel on Smashwords, Amazon and iBooks, I published Part One: Initiation Rites separately, with its own International Standard Book Number (ISBN), because it stands on its own as a complete novella-length story. Here’s what some readers thought of it:

Will Granger, author of Anabar’s Run and Anabar Rises:

I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to much more from Scott Bury. I liked this coming-of-age epic filled with believable characters and situations, tense action, and mystical, magical elements.

The story is filled with intense action; each time, Javor [the main character] learns a bit more of just how powerful and capable he is.

Bury does a great job here, combining violent, exciting action with Javor's reluctance to accept his new role. Javor is a realistic young man, pulled in different directions by confusion about what he ought to do with his life.

The real strength of The Bones of the Earth is that Bury has created a realistic character chosen by fate and destiny, who is able to fight magical, mystical forces with his very human strength, skill, and determination. I look forward to reading more.

Read the original review on his blog.

Roger Eschbacher, author, Dragonfriend: Leonard the Great, Book One 

When his people are attacked —first by vicious horsemen, then by an unspeakable horror—village outcast Javor finds abilities stirring within that hint he might not be destined for the life of a simple farmer.

Author Scott Bury demonstrates his considerable writing skills by masterfully weaving a story that, at times, has you holding your breath as you wonder what's coming next. Especially enjoyable is how he plays out Javor's gradual realization of what his true destiny might be.

Read the original review on Amazon.
Read the original review on goodreads.

D.L. Atkinson, author of I Have to Get it Right, The Biter Bit and The 51st State

The author has produced an excellent tale that has you on the edge of your seat. The characters are believable and created with substance and they compel you to feel emotion. I believe that the book is a winner and congratulations. Highly rated.

Read the original review on Amazon

Alan McDermott, author of Gray Justice and Gray Resurrection:

I'm more of a guns and grenades person than swords and dragons, but it took very little time to get into this book and I was soon carried away in the tale spun by Scott Bury.

My heart was beating faster as the main encounter drew near, that is how well this book was written.

I can strongly recommend this fine piece of work and I'll be back for more of Scott's work!

Read the original review on Amazon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sample Sunday: action scene

I missed registering for Six Sentence Sunday (again). In my defence, it's been a very busy two weeks. I've also been trying to keep up the travel blog.
But even though I cannot register or participate officially in Six Sentence Sunday, I CAN post a short excerpt. And now I have an excuse for a few more than just six sentences.

The following excerpt comes from Chapter 8 of The Bones of the Earth. Javor and Photius have been taken in, temporarily, by the village of Bilavod, just before it comes under the attack of a band of Avar raiders. Photius shows the villagers how to prepare defences, and Javor trains some of the young men in fighting. 
"Bilavod" means "white water" in some Slavic languages.

Sunset came, gleaming sullen and red under the clouds. Then a cry rang out from the watchers around the stockade. “They’re coming! I see torches in the trees!”

Javor ran to the log wall, loosening his sword. It was true: firelight flickered in the forest until the raiders rode hard into the clearing before the holody. In the sunset, their torches lit up the sky.

There were many more than before, close to fifty, all mounted and masked. They carried torches, spears and long, broad swords. Hach, the archer, took a position prepared for him: a small opening in the stockade, narrow on the outside wall but offering him a good view of the field. Photius took the arrows that had been soaking in potion, dipped one in another liquid and immediately gave it to Hach. With only a quick glance at his target, Hach let fly. The arrow sped to a raider in the front row and hit him full in the chest. As the man fell from his saddle, his body burst into flames. Hach shot again: the arrow hit a raider’s shield, but also caught fire, which spread to several others. Soon several raiders were on fire, slapping themselves to extinguish it. Their horses panicked and broke away, screaming, carrying their riders into the woods again.

For more, check the tab at the top of the page, "Sample: The Bones of the Earth," or check the full book on Amazon, Smashwords or iBooks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Written guarantees

Image from Homs, Syria, courtesy
According to news reports from the last couple of days, the Syrian government has  ignored the deadline for ceasefire negotiated by Kofi Annan because it wants written guarantees from rebels, among other “last-minute” additional demands.

The rebels have defied that demand, and the fighting continues, rockets and mortars in refugee camps, even beyond Syria’s borders, into Turkey and Lebanon.

When do you ask for a written guarantee? When buying a product with a long lifespan, like a car or a roof, I suppose; for services like repairs. Sometimes, it’s silly—”This product I invented will keep your house smelling better—I guarantee it!”

But it doesn’t come up all that often in war.

What is a written guarantee, anyway? It’s a sign that the two sides in a negotiation or conflict don’t trust each other. What they’re saying is “When you break this agreement, I’ll have proof that you promised something that you did not deliver.”

The thing is, enforcing a written guarantee requires an independent third party that both sides respect. That’s missing in Syria, despite the efforts of the UN and the Arab League.

I have to ask, what is the Syrian government really saying? What’s the point of written guarantees? Is the Syrian government planning to sue the rebel leaders who don’t stop shooting?

The continued fighting shows that neither side wants to stop fighting. The Syrian government obviously thinks it will get more from its continued aggression than from any negotiation; and the rebels at least believed that they had nothing to gain from signing a guarantee. It’s hard to see why they wouldn’t, though—what could they lose?

The sad truth is that both sides in this conflict still believe that they stand to benefit more through continued warfare, rather than through negotiations.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Blogging on the iPad2 - continued

Blogging on the move is getting easier, but it's still far from perfect.

I have taken my iPad2 on my European vacation again this year, and no, it's not just to drive my wife crazy (although that is a side benefit). It does make it much easier, in fact possible, to check emails and tweets.

But for blogging? It's still awkward, at best.

Google's Blogger system, the one I use for this blog, still has limitations within the iOS version of Safari, which runs on the iPad. You cannot upload photos from the iPad's photo library. The button is grayed out. You can link photos and other images from a website.

The workaround is to email the post to the address that Google gives you, but then you're limited to one picture per post. From the iPad, you have to choose the photo, then select Email Photo from the Photos screen. For the text, you can write in the body of the email. Send it to the address Google provides, and Google posts it to your blog.

The other workaround is to upload a bunch of photos to a Picasa or flickr account. I haven't yet decided whether I want to do that. It would be interesting to see if I could link pictures from iCloud, but that will take more research.

There is a Blogger app for iPhone, but it does not take advantage of the iPad's larger screen. It's kind of annoying to use. More on that in a later post.

Africa from Spain - on the travel blog
I use Wordpress for my travel blog ( and its mobile app is more functional than using Google blogger on Safari. wordpress has an app for the iPad that allows you to add photos, either from a website or uploaded for the iPad library, and you can add more than one. Unfortunately, the software always puts the picture at the end of the text, no matter where the cursor is when you hit the attach-image button; fortunately, it's not difficult to select, cut and paste it where you want. While you can choose the size of the image, unfortunately, there is no caption function s the is in the desktop browser version of Blogger.

Wordpress also has a habit of freezing. If you try to use the app as a word processor, then click or touch outside of the window, you cannot change the content. This is probably a bug in the Wordpress app, and I hope they fix it soon.

I have found that the best strategy is to use a separate word processor (I use Pages) to write the blog post, the copy and paste it into the Wordpress or Blogger window.

So, blogging while mobile with the iPad is still not as easy as blogging from a desktop or even notebook computer. It's much better than it was even as recently as last summer, but there are still some tweaks that Wordpress needs to make.

Google really needs to develop a Blogger app for the iPad and other mobile device. And they need to make sure it's available on Apple's app store website.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Slow to update? No, I'm in Spain!

Hello, readers! I know it's been several days since I updated the blog. I missed 6 Sentence Sunday this week. In my defence, I was still jet-lagged on Saturday night, and haven't had much chance to blog.

Where am I? It's Tuesday, so this must be Seville. Actually, I just drove in from Granada. Don't believe me? Here's the view from my hotel window this morning: the Parador St. Francisco, on the grounds of the Alhambra above Granada.