Watch out dragons... Here be Aaron!

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War Is now available as a book and ebook.

Aaron is a brat, which is understandable after everything he's been through. He also sees dragons when he hums, which isn't understandable by anyone, ever. He soon gets sucked into the dragons' dangerous war, where his only defences are his embarrassingly magical fingernails, and a fierce, ten-year-old girl.

Available everywhere across the world! Check out goodreads / amazon uk / amazon us / barnes & noble / book depository or your favourite book or ebook retailer.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Dragons Or Dinosaurs?


Today I'm reviewing a slightly controversial book. Dragons or Dinosaurs? Creation or Evolution? By Darek Isaacs. 

The back cover states that "There is no other book on the market like this one" and I would be inclined to agree.


Isaacs argues (and argues well), the following three points.

1. Dinosaur type creatures must have existed at the same time as humans.

He argues that because of cave paintings like this one...


... that humans must have known about dinosaurs a long time before their remains were discovered in the 18th Century. The only way they could have known this, is that if humans and dinosaurs once shared the planet.

2. Dragons were real creatures, rather than mythical.

He argues that, since all cultures across the world seem to have some kind of dragon in their mythology, that they must have stemmed from real creatures that really existed and that people saw.

3. That Dragons and Dinosaurs were probably the same thing.


He argues that the little we actually know about dinosaurs could be just as easily extrapolated to dragons.

4. And that they breathed fire.

As per this very old cave painting.



 It's an interesting take on the dragon/dinosaur argument, and certainly does make you wonder whether there's a mysterious truth behind it all.

Friday, 27 January 2017

More of your nice messages

As with previous Fridays I'm going to include some nice messages/reviews that I've read and liked in the week. This week I have selected a few comments from early reviewers.
"I think Aaron has a strong personality that comes through even this early on. He's a character we will be able to sympathize with, and readers will admire his spunk."
"I enjoy your style, humor, and protagonist"
"This is a great book. The story moves from one point to the next quickly and holds the reader's attention."
"I found this to be a very enjoyable read. It was well paced and had a good story that would keep you engaged all the way through. You really created the fantasy world, Breveny very well and by the end of the novel I almost felt I knew my way round! - from the wood to the castle to the desert. You also described it all beautifully - conjuring up some lovely colourful images of all the creatures and the landscape. It reminded me of one of those video games that kids play in the way that they were always trying to figure out what to do next."
Thank you to everyone who has said nice things so far. I'll try to include all your messages in the coming weeks.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Julia's Experiment Notes

If you haven't read the short story, Julia's Experiment from last week, you might want to hop over and read it! Here's some screenshots of Julia's notes from her experiment.

Screenshot 1


Screenshot 2
Screenshot 3


and Screenshot 4


Monday, 23 January 2017

The City of London Dragons

This is a cast iron dragon, that you would pass if you walked into the City of London from Victoria Embankment.


This is the original dragon, but you would also see replicas if you walked into the City of London from:

  • The south end of London Bridge,
  • High Holborn near Gray's Inn Road, 
  • Aldgate High Street
  • Bishopsgate
  • Moorgate
  • Goswell Road (north of Aldersgate Street), 
  • Farringdon Street, 
  • The south end of Blackfriars Bridge.
There's also a more terrifying dragon at Temple Bar.


In fact, if you're heading into the City of London from any main road, you can't help but pass a dragon! Look! Here's a map!



Is this because secretly it was a dragon that started the Great Fire of London? Sadly no, but dragons have been on the City of London Coat of Arms since at least 1609.

Nobody's quite sure why, especially with the St George's cross everywhere, which has to be farly anti-dragon, don't you think? But whatever the reason, in 1964, the Corporation of London decided to put these dragons along the boundary of the City of London, choosing the Victoria Embankment design over the Temple Bar one, as it was less scary.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Another fantastic Goodreads review

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War has had another wonderful 5* review on Goodreads from another early reviewer!

This time Ciara said...


Thanks, Ciara. Although now I want to write a short story where the vampire sprites in my book gain some extra sparkle!


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Julia's experiment

Here's a new story, featuring Julia, that takes place before the beginning of Aaron Gray and the Dragon War.

Julia pretended to stay calm as she unwrapped the presents for her eleventh birthday, but it wasn’t easy. Underneath the brightly coloured wrapping paper there could be the gift she’d asked for. She could finally get the answers she needed about her dreams.

“Wow, thanks, Mum. I always wanted a book on mythical creatures.”

Nope, not that one, but still it was a nice present so best to sound grateful. Where could it be then? It would have to be in a square or rectangular box. Ah, it must be that one.

Julia grinned as she grabbed the box and ripped off the wrapping paper. Inside was her brand new tablet PC, essential for her plan. She leaped up and hugged her parents, first her mum and then her dad, squeezing them tight.

“Perfect! With the stylus and everything! Thank you!”

She hummed with happiness and immediately winced as the giant head of an animal, half eagle and half lion, appeared directly in front of her face.

“Julia, are you okay?” Her mum was staring at her, concerned. That was the problem when your parents were psychiatrists, they always noticed your body language.

“I’m fine,” Julia grinned. “I just pulled a muscle. I’m fine now.” She opened the last few of her presents, thanked her parents once more, and took her tablet upstairs to her bedroom.

She looked out of her window and hummed a few more notes of the tune she’d accidentally sang earlier that morning. As she expected, dozens of flying creatures, all half-eagle, half-lion, were in the sky and in the road. Still humming, she raised her tablet to the window and took a photograph. The same creatures appeared on the tablet screen.

She stopped humming. The creatures disappeared. She looked at her tablet. The creature no longer appeared on the tablet screen. Of course it didn’t. That would have been too easy. Now for the first real test.

Julia sat down on her bed, looked at the picture on her screen, and hummed the same music again, the music from her dreams. She gasped as the creature reappeared on the screen, frozen in the same place it appeared when she took the picture. She started humming again as quickly as she could, smiling to herself as she realised that, for the very first time, she had captured one of these creatures on camera.

Now it was time for phase two. Taking the new stylus out of its plastic packaging, and still humming, she began to trace the outline of the creature. She’d never been good at art but she took it slowly and after a while had an outline she was happy with. She stopped humming. The creature faded away but the outline remained.

“Julia,” called her mother, “come back here please, you promised us you were going to limit your screen-time.”

Julia sighed, saved her drawing, and headed back to her family. Her experiment would have to wait, but finally she was on the right track. She was going to discover what these creatures were, and then, hopefully, why they were invading her dreams.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Dragonology

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about "The Flight of Dragons", an important book for anyone who wanted to study dragons. But it would be remiss of me to not give a certain amount of credit to a second draconic library book. "Dragonology - by Dr Ernest Drake (Also known as Dugald Steer)


 This book is still, wonderfully, in print, and if you haven't got a copy, then you can get one quite easily from your local book shop, or amazon.

Although not as scientifically written as some other books on dragons, Dragonology makes up for this in its pure beauty.  For example look at this page on dragons of the world...


Or the pages outlining the difference between Western dragons...



... and eastern dragons.



My favourite page comes towards the back, where it goes into much more detail on the different aspects of a dragon, accompanied by many interesting facts...


... for example, did you know that a dragon's blood is highly corrosive?  (Actually this is also mentioned in Flight of Dragons and hinted at in Harry Potter, but that's for another time).

Friday, 13 January 2017

Even More Of Your Nice Messages!

As with previous Fridays I'm going to include some nice messages/reviews that I've read and liked in the week. This week I have selected a few comments from early reviewers.
"Really liked it. It was very clever."
"I'm a big fan of yours!"
"Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, is a well-constructed, very readable children’s fantasy book."
"The story itself is entertaining, though the strength of the writing is in the portrayal of the characters. There’s quite a mix of wit and substantial insight into ‘troubled’ children."
"A well polished, extremeley well written story." 
"I love how you've put so many fantasy creatures into this story."
"Very sensitive. You certainly engaged the reader's emotions."
"I quickly became immersed in this story. It sort of drags you in."
"Vivid and intriguing!"
"I started off thinking this would sit well with the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - Then Alice in Wonderland and finally, The Wizard of Oz. It has so many nuances and twists. Brilliant."
Thank you to everyone who has said nice things so far. I'll try to include all your messages in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Misadventures of Hilary Hobgoblin

This week's story is potentially never-ending. It is the story of Hilary Hobgoblin, and it's currently going on in bitesize chunks on twitter.

 Leading up to Launch day, Hilary will go on his own adventure around Breveny, meeting many of the characters and witnessing a load of events that lead up to the where the book begins.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Goodbye Dippy!


This is Dippy, the deeply loved Diplodocus skeleton from the Natural History Museum in London. Many dragon fans are fascinated by dinosaurs, with some claiming that what we imagine as dinosaurs were really dragons (no really, I have books on it which I'll blog about at a later date). So it seemed fair to celebrate the life of Dippy, who is currently being dismantled and will be replaced by a (still impressive) whale skeleton, with a few interesting facts.

Fact 1 - He's not real

The main reason Dippy is being replaced is that he's not a real boney dinosaur skeleton. He's a plaster cast of a real dinosaur from America. King Edward VII saw a sketch of the real thing, and he liked it so much they made him a copy.

Fact 2 - But he is an antique

Dippy's been part of the Natural History Museum since 1905, when he was first unveiled. In those days they didn't know much about the Diplodocus, so he was put together with his head and tail touching the ground. In World War Two they hid Dippy in the basement to keep him safe from the bombing.

Fact 3 - He's pronounced di-PLOD-ocus

The way we talk in England, it should be diplo-DO-cus, because of the way we put Greek words together. But since the Diplodocus was an American discovery, scientists have agreed to be nice and pronounce it their way.

Fact 4 - He's a dectuplet!

Dippy is one of ten replicas of the same dinosaur, which are in museums around the world. Each replica is made up of 292 bones.

Fact 5 - He's going on tour!

See Dippy at a town near you! After being dismantled he is having a rest until 2018, when he will be visiting Dorset, Birmingham, Ulster, Glasgow, Newcastle, Wales, Rochdale and Norwich. After that he's likely to be recast in bronze and displayed outside of the Natural History Museum.

Goodbye Dippy, the museum entrance won't be the same without you!

Friday, 6 January 2017

More of your nice messages.

Look! I have my first review on Goodreads! And I got five stars!

Abigail had a special preview copy of the book, and said...






Big thanks, Abigail, I've looked through your Goodreads list and you have very good taste in books!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Chapter One

On most Wednesdays I'll be sharing short stories, diary entries, and other stuff from the characters. However, this would be rather confusing without a bit of backstory from the book. So here's Chapter One!

1 THE CRUMBLE GAME

Aaron Gray was trying to paint a picture of his dream, but he couldn't get the dragon right. He made the wings bigger, then the head. No good. Not scary enough. He tore at the paper, ripping it in two.Don't worry about it too much, Aaron. It doesn't have to be perfect." Mrs Seeger smiled at Aaron from a sofa on the other side of the room. Her smile showed all her crooked teeth and the sofa made rude noises every time she moved. Aaron ignored the smile and screwed up both pieces of paper, throwing them at Mrs Seeger. One piece bounced off a small wart on her nose, landing in her lap. The other piece landed on her blouse, leaving a small stain of yellow paint.
"It does have to be perfect," Aaron moaned. “I’ve been dreaming about the same cruddy dragon for my whole cruddy life, and I can’t even get his cruddy head right.”
Although he was still angry, Aaron was pleased at how many times he said the word “cruddy”. Swear words weren’t allowed at the Autumn Grove Children’s Home, but “cruddy” was just about okay, so he used it often. Mrs Seeger calmly unscrewed the picture and laid it down on the couch next to her, carefully placing the two halves back together.
"It's lovely. Look at the castle. It looks so real!"
“Don’t be stupid. It’s the same castle I always draw.”
“Not quite. There are more cracks on the towers and the vines are longer.”
“Yeah, well that’s how it looks in my dream now.”
The cracks in the towers had appeared in his dreams just after the dragons had started fighting, smashing each other against the castle until their guts fell out of their underbellies. It was strange. They’d never fought each other before. At least it gave him something interesting to draw when Mrs Seeger came to visit.
Aaron hated it when Mrs Seeger visited. It was just one more reminder that he was different from most other kids his age. He looked like a normal eleven year old, with blond hair, green eyes and freckles, but normal kids lived at home with their parents, not in a children’s home. Aaron was officially looked after by his local council. He had no idea where his mum was and his dad lived on the other side of town. His social worker, Mrs Seeger, visited him every few weeks. She wasn’t supposed to have come for another week. Aaron guessed there was something she needed to talk to him about.
“Aaron, your dad’s been in touch,” said Mrs Seeger, still smiling the same crooked smile. “He says he’d really like to see you.”
Aaron pretended he hadn’t heard. Seeger knew the rules. Aaron let her talk about all kinds of things, but his dad was definitely off limits. If she kept talking then he’d have to get himself a new social worker. Again. He ignored her and picked up a fresh piece of paper, ready to paint another picture. He hummed to himself to fill the awkward silence, humming music that he usually heard in his sleep.
A dragon flew through the ceiling, roaring at an invisible enemy.
Crud. That was stupid.
Whenever Aaron had the dragon dream there was always the same music. It hung around after he woke up, echoing around his brain like the music at the end of a film. When he hummed the same tune he could see the dragons as if they were right in front of him.
Aaron stopped humming and the dragon disappeared. Seeger hadn’t noticed anything wrong. Nobody ever saw the dragons apart from Aaron.
“Aaron, it might be good for you to see him, and if you like I can be there too.”
It took Aaron a few seconds to remember what Seeger was talking about. The appearance of the dragon had made him forget about his dad wanting to see him. Not that it mattered, there was no way he was seeing his dad.
Aaron sighed. He’d grown to like Mrs Seeger, but she’d broken the rule by mentioning his dad. It was time for her to go.
Aaron started to paint another picture. He dipped his paintbrush in the black paint and painted a wide brimmed hat. With his other hand he gripped the cold jar of water which he’d been using to clean his paintbrushes. He’d have to get this just right if he was going to get a new social worker, but he knew what he had to do.
It was time to play The Crumble Game.
He took the green paint and painted the outline of a face, adding a hideous wart to the end of the nose. Then he added crooked, decaying teeth.
“I’ve just remembered someone else in my dream,” said Aaron, opening his eyes wide and making his bottom lip tremble. “She’s new and she’s giving me nightmares.”
Mrs Seeger got up to have a closer look at Aaron’s new painting. Aaron saw the look of concern in her eyes, and felt a twinge of regret for what he was about to do.
“She’s absolutely terrifying, and hideously ugly. I call her the interfering witch.”
Mrs Seeger looked at the picture. “Aaron?”
“Yes, Mrs Seeger?”
“That’s me, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Like I said. The interfering witch.”
Before Mrs Seeger had a chance to respond, Aaron threw the jar of water all over her perfectly ironed, white blouse.
As he expected, Mrs Seeger crumbled. Her knees buckled. Her hands reached for her blouse and she staggered back to the sofa as if she’d been shot. Aaron wanted to apologise but now wasn’t the time to back down. Instead he forced himself to laugh cruelly, shouted "We don't talk about my dad!” and stormed out of the room.
Aaron only had about ten seconds to get away before the staff at the home found out what he'd done. He headed for the front door as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself and sprinted down the driveway into the street. It was cold and drizzly. Hopefully the staff would be slow to come looking for him in the rain. He'd get the bus into town and be back by nightfall. By that time, Seeger would have spoken to her manager, got herself transferred from being his social worker, and everyone would have calmed down a bit.
The bus stop smelt of beer and something else, like a drunk person hadn’t made it to the toilet on time. Aaron realised that he’d left his phone at the children’s home. To pass the time he read the graffiti on the bus stop seats and smiled at the rude drawings that somebody had drawn on the windows. Three crane flies flew around Aaron’s head, avoiding his swipes as he tried to swat them away. A small hand shot past his face, grabbing all three flies in one go.
Aaron turned and was surprised to see that the hand belonged to a small girl, about the same age as him, with shoulder length brown hair and large blue eyes. She laughed.
"You're impressed aren't you! My parents let me go to martial arts classes because I'm so tiny. Apparently they're worried I can't look after myself. By the way, do you remember me? You sat next to me in science until you were kicked out for exploding the thermometer."
Aaron laughed nervously. He did remember her. The girl who wouldn’t stop talking.
"Erm… Yeah… Hi… Turns out I shouldn’t have stuck a thermometer on a gas flame."
The girl released the flies and watched as they flew towards a nearby tree. "I'm Julia by the way. I know you're Aaron. You're kind of infamous at our school now."
Julia had managed to say "infamous" with exactly the same measure of disapproval and respect. Aaron wasn't sure what the word meant, but he decided he was going to ask the staff at the children’s home after the whole incident with the wet social worker was forgotten. For now he just nodded.
“So what happened to you?” Julia continued to talk. “Are you still living in that children’s home? Is it nice there or are the staff really horrible?”
“It’s alright,” murmured Aaron. The problem with being in a children’s home was that everyone wanted to hear his life story. He never shared more than he had to.
The bus was in sight and Julia began to count her bus fare, the jingling of the coins matching the rattling sound of the bus as it headed down the street towards them. A car swerved at the lights, beeping its horn in harmony with the bus rattle. From an open window of a nearby house came the haunting sounds of a violin. The different sounds reminded Aaron of his dream. It wasn’t the same music, but it was close. He hummed a few notes, and ducked as a dragon appeared just a few metres above his head, flying through the bus shelter like a strange reptilian ghost. He stopped humming and the dragon vanished as the bus arrived at the bus stop.
Aaron sat down at the back of the bus and Julia sat on the seat in front of him. The bus had just begun to move when Julia started talking again.
“Aaron, why was there a dragon flying around that bus stop?”

Monday, 2 January 2017

The Flight of Dragons

For those people serious about studying and understanding dragons, there are a few books that are absolutely invaluable. By far the most important book is this one, The Flight Of Dragons.


It's quite an old book, it's not being printed anymore, and the most expensive copy on Amazon is going for £234.99. Much cheaper versions are available, but I was extremely lucky to get mine for £6 from a second hand bookshop,

The book uses other famous stories (including JRR Tolkien, C.S Lewis and Anne McCaffrey) to scientifically prove all the information you would ever need to know about dragons.


It explains how dragons breathe fire, and how that helps them to fly.


It explains how Dragon's blood is made of acid (which must be why it makes such good oven cleaner).


And most importantly, it explains how dragons can communicate with other creatures through eye contact.

 It does get one thing wrong though. The book comes to the conclusion that dragons don't actually "talk", that they're actually dumb beasts that fool people into thinking they've spoken to them by hypnotising them. Of course we now know that dragons are cleverer than that...




Sunday, 1 January 2017

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War will be available as a book and ebook from Wednesday 1st March 2017.

Aaron is a brat, which is understandable after everything he's been through. He also sees dragons when he hums, which isn't understandable by anyone, ever. He soon gets sucked into the dragons' dangerous war, where his only defences are his embarrassingly magical fingernails, and a fierce, ten-year-old girl.

Available everywhere! Check out goodreads amazon uk / amazon us / barnes & noble / book depository or your favourite book or ebook retailer.