Goodreads disappoints

I really loved the whole Goodreads idea when I first came across it about five years ago. A site that understands what you like and recommends books in the same genres that other readers have rated. Also, a community of like-minded bookworms, loving books and contributing back into the pool of knowledge, authors answering questions about their books and generating a following…all very sound.

Two problems that I am experiencing with Goodreads now have left me somewhat less enchanted with the concept; the IA behind the recommendations is not as clever as I first thought and the community of users appears to be gravitating towards the common denominator, i.e. no more collaborative or generous minded than a bunch of random people in a bus queue.

Recommendations : The more books you review, the better Goodreads can help you, right? Well, maybe…if you only read one kind of book. If your taste is wide-ranging and you read books that other people recommend, say because you’re in a book club, the less clued-up Goodreads is about what you really like.

Community : This is simple. I don’t have any in-depth psychoanalysis to educate you with. I did a Giveaway of ten copies of my last novel, ‘Dark Water’ nearly three months ago and only one of the ten has been gracious enough to write a review and leave any feedback. Now I know that the rules state that there’s no obligation on the recipients to do this but still, it’s common decency isn’t it?

Am I through with Goodreads? No, I don’t think so. Not yet. I think the soul is still in there. The passionate people are in there and I’m sure the AI will evolve…eventually. Right now though, I’m just a bit disappointed.

Painting with gold leaf, not easy

I’ve been practising applying gold leaf before I tackle the Dark Water Codex. OK, I’m not actually using gold leaf. It’s a very thin metal foil that’s a similar colour and sheen. Finding #1…it isn’t all that easy. Finding #2…’gold’ foil is ridiculously flyaway! Sneeze and you’ll wonder where it’s gone. Finding #3 (and this is the big one)…you need an adhesive that dries slowly and evenly. Like a regular bloke, I ignored the instructions and dabbled with PVA and a multi-purpose adhesive. No good, so I reached for the instructions where I discovered that I should be using varnish! Here’s the result of the latest test…

Third attempt

Third attempt

It would have been great to embed something like this in the book, speaking of which, ‘Dark Water’ now has two 5-star ratings in It’s on the way! Woo-hoo!

Free copies of ‘Dark Water’ – READ THIS

Hi folks, this offer is open to signed up subscribers of this website. I have 3 copies of ‘Dark Water’ to give away. My copies of the book arrive tomorrow. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and I hope the excitement rubs off on you. Reply to this article and say “I want one!” First three respondents will receive a signed copy in the post.

The Dark Water Codex

I’m working on something inspired by Aztec codices. At the moment, it’s just got the Aztec day symbols around the border but I want to put something in the centre that’s related to Tlaloc, the god of rain and water. I also want to write the words ‘Dark Water’ on it but that would make it look more like a European illustrated manuscript than an authentic native mesoamerican codex. Then again, maybe a fusion of styles isn’t such a bad idea. After all, I’m not setting out to make a forgery. Thoughts?

An early layout for a Dark Water codex.

An early layout for a Dark Water codex.

Honour your deceased loved ones

There are some interesting ways to treasure your dearly departed nowadays. You can have their ashes turned into a diamond to wear in an item of jewellery. You can have the ashes moulded into an acrylic paperweight (see here, actually looks quite nice!).

If you were a roving man-about-The-Andes in ancient times, these options weren’t available to you, so…what to do? It turns out you could stop in at a ‘render while you wait’ mortuary where your loved one’s bones would be de-fleshed in quicklime so you could resume your travels with Dad and Mum, or your spouse, tucked neatly into your kitbag in tidy bundles of bone! Don’t believe me? See here…

The chances are, someone has already thought of your idea, however crazy it may seem.

Cover Art for Dark Water

I’m very excited about the artwork Owen has done for the cover of ‘Dark Water’. It perfectly captures the mood of the novel and gives a taste of one of the key scenes from the story.

Book Cover for Dark Water

This is the current proposed cover for Dark Water, Codex 2 of Aztec Elements.

In other news, proofreading will be complete by the end of the month so the publication of ‘Dark Water’ looks set for April 2015.

Ruined city discovered in Honduras

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a city, thought to date back to one thousand years ago. The team were searching for a fabled ‘White City’, also referred to as the City of the Monkey God, in an area of pristine jungle. One of the artefacts found in the initial survey is the stone effigy of a were-jaguar. See it, and more stunning images on the National Geographic website.