It’s all too easy to get distracted with the spring weather beating on the window pane and the birds shouting their beaks off at me to be in the garden and not at my desk, and what with last year’s pitiful attempt at a summer, there’s a nagging voice telling me to make the most of the sunshine. What is keeping me in line and indoors (apart from a million hungry mozzies who seem intent on eating me) is a fascinating book on Ancient Alexandria by Judith McKenzie which I acquired to research the sequel to ‘Owl of the Durotriges’. Entitled “The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt 300BC- 700AD”, it’s a hefty tome but well-written, full of colour plates and accessible to anyone interested in the era.

Sadly, virtually nothing remains above ground of the ancient city of Alexandria which was destroyed by a succession of invaders, pillaged by treasure-hunters, had its buildings dismantled and re-used elsewhere or levelled and re-built in the name of progress. Despite these setbacks, Mckenzie scours all the available sources (historical, modern scientific and archaeological) to come up with a plan of the city from its inception to 700AD.

I realise I’m merely stating what is a known fact: the Greeks really were very accomplished. Not only did they possess a library (the Mouseion) which was a renowned centre of learning, but they also constructed a massive lighthouse on the Isle of Pharos in the Great Harbour and a causeway called the Hepastadium which joined the island to the mainland. There was also a canal which allowed access from the Western Harbour to the Nile. There were theatres, a racecourse and everything one would expect from a Greek colonial city, but what sets Alexandria apart, is that for a time, the Greek and Egyptian styles of architecture appear to have stimulated each other, creating something totally unparalleled in the ancient world. This is a great book and perfect for research, so I don’t have to be too upset that the weather forecast for the rest of this week is for rain.

My first blog

At last, my new website is up and running!

When I submitted The Owl of the Durotriges to the Historical Novel Society, I had no idea where the contact might lead.  They liked my story and my writing, but were not so keen on some of the glitches that had crept into the layout.  I took their criticisms on board, revised the manuscript, up-dated the map and added an author page.  They also suggested I might like to get a professional designer to create an eye-catching cover.  Although I was fond of my original artwork, it failed to attract the right audience for the story and was executed without the benefit of a graphics package – very home-made, using a scanner and some acetate! So I commissioned a new cover by Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics and I must say I am delighted with the result.  The new version is up and running on Kindle and the paperback should be available within the next couple of weeks.  A website followed, and here’s the result.

Self-publishing is a satisfying and enjoyable process and I would highly recommend it but the marketing aspect is an on-going process and needs to look professional.

Right!  On with the sequel!