28 July 2012

350 followers giveaway extravaganza - Moleskine Book Journal and Zombie Gone potion!

Moleskine Passions Book Journalby

In celebration of reaching 350 followers, I'm having a giveaway. You lovely folks (and I mean all of you - this is an international, worldwide, global giveaway) can win yourselves one of two prizes:

A Moleskine Passions Book Journal
A Zombie Gone potion pendant

Zombie Gone with pouch to scale
Take a look at the Rafflecopter widget below for details on how to enter, and some photos of the epic prizes. The only rule is that you follow the blog through Google Friend Connect on the right - all the other things give you bonus points!

If anyone has any problems entering, please let me know and I'll help you out. You can email me at mithrilwisdom@gmail.com. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Moleskine Passions Book Journal

Moleskine Passions Book Journal - inside

The Moleskine Passions Book Journal lets you keep track of all of the books you read and review with 240 pages of tabbed sections to organise your book collection. It also has an awesome bookmark and sticker sheets.

More info on the Moleskine Passions Book Journal

Zombie Gone Potion Pendant

Zombie Gone potion pendant
I got this from ShottleBop - a Welsh emporium of awesomeness and purveyor of potions. The Zombie-Gone potion is effective against 98% of re-animated corpses (I like those odds!). This bottle comes attached as a pendant on a chain so you can wear it wherever you go.

More info on the Zombie-Gone Shottle Bop

I'll leave this open until August 31st 2012, and don't forget that it's open internationallyGood luck to everyone who enters! 

25 July 2012

Bloggy news! Abaddon open submissions, fantasy taverns and crowd funding self-publishing!

Abaddon books logoby

There's a lot of news happening around the blog-o-sphere over the past few weeks, so here's a run down for you:

Zoe at Fantasy Bytes has found that Abaddon books are taking open submissions for their new series of e-novellas. They are accepting a wide range of speculative sub-genres and ideas, so take a look. The closing date is at the end of September.

Ross from Cursed Armada has launched a new Facebook page called The Fantasy Tavern. Facebook is lacking a good place where fantasy fans can congregate and share their love of all things speculative, so head on over and say hi!

Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson
Michael Abayomi has an insanely ambitious project ahead of him; he is attempting to self-publish six fantasy book in as many months using crowdfunding to meet the publishing costs. Best of luck to you, Michael! You can watch Michael Abayomi's campaign video on YouTube.

As for Mithril Wisdom news, I've also received a few review copies of books - a paperback copy of Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson and a digital copy of Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. They both look like very good reads and I'm looking forward to both of them. Thanks Geoffrey and Michael!
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
 A note to authors and publishers - until further notice, I will no longer be accepting review requests, at least until my backlog has cleared a little. I've updated my review policy to reflect this.

Also, I've hit 350 followers! Yay! I'm getting together some prizes for a giveaway in the next few days, so watch this space!

Are you tempted to enter the Abaddon submissions challenge? Would you consider sponsoring a crowdfunding project? 

19 July 2012

Three tweaks to get your old blogposts noticed


Natalie portman headshot
This is a Part II from my post back in March on why you should tweak your old blog posts (this post also explains the presence of Natalie Portman to the left). If you've not read that one, pop on over and see why you should be tweaking, then head back here and I'll show you how.

Thankfully, Blogger has made things a lot easier in the four months since my original post, and it's pretty simple to tweak your old blog posts to maximise their effectiveness (I'm using Blogger in Draft; so for some of you these tweaks might not be applicable). What these tweaks will do is help people find your posts better and improve your traffic (and your comments, likes, shares, and general awesomeness as a blogger).

Fix broken images

Blogger logo with wrenchThis is such a big thing. People are far more likely to read your post if you have a picture to go along with it (even if the picture isn't 100% relevant/interesting). A lot of my older posts have broken images because I've just pasted in the image URL from some other site. Once that other site takes the picture down, you lose it too. Always upload images to your own blog. Credit sources where you need to, but always, always host them yourself. 

Blogger also lets you add alt text to describe your images too, which helps when people use Google image search to find pictures, leading them to your blog. Type into Google Image Search "blogger logo with wrench" and the first result is the picture you see above, leading you to my original tweaking post.

Inter link

This is a great way to send some traffic back and forth between posts and to increase their presence. This post is a great example. As you saw, I linked to my original post at the top because it's relevant. What I'll do once this is published is go back to my original post and link to this. Not only will visitors be able to travel back and forth between the two, but giving the older post a link to this new one (which could be more popular because I have more readers now than I did then) will give it extra authority in the eyes of The Internet Gods, making your blog better as a whole.

This also works with links to labels/tag/categories. If I'm doing a general blog post about Terry Pratchett, for example, I'll link to my label so people can read everything I've written a bout him. Doing this enables people to navigate deep into your blog and find good posts that they wouldn't have otherwise seen.

Get with the now

Jason Engle - Celestial
How many times have you changed your blog's colour scheme/template/layout? If you're like me, several times. What I didn't realise is that it can seriously mess up the way your old posts look to the reader. This happened to my Jason Engle fantasy art showcase; it was a mess. Pictures everywhere, broken links to other sites, it looked horrible. So I cleaned it up, edited my text a little to make it sound a little better and I think it's had a positive effect.

[Headshot image source]

Do you have any tips for tweaking old blog posts? If anyone wants any more or more in depth info about tweaking (the bigwigs call it 'optimizing') then let me know!

16 July 2012

Movie trailer - Oz the Great and Powerful


I've not had one of these in a while, but there's some pretty big hype for Oz the Great and Powerful. The film is directed by Sam Raimi and stars James Franco, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis. It's a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, showing how a small-time magician ends up in the land of Oz and how he becomes the great wizard.

The visual style is very reminiscent of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland - that over-the-top, fantastical world. What I do really like is the nod to the original movie with the black-and-white visuals during the Kansas scenes and full colour when the wizard in in Oz itself.

Oz the Great and Powerful is due for release on 8th March 2013. I like the look of it, but I much prefer the darker, post-apocalyptic vibe of Watler Murch's Return to Oz

Are you looking forward to this movie? How do you think it fits in with the current Oz movie canon?

10 July 2012

Book haul! Fantasy noir, urban fantasy and Japanese steampunk

Book haul - Polansky, Williams and Kristoff

Another few books found their way in the post over the weekend, and I'm pretty excited about them. My thanks go to Tor Books and Hodder for sending these on - this is going to be one hell of a good Summer! I'll link to the blurb for each book and post my thoughts here. I'm going to go through my TBR shelf pretty soon and prioritize my reads based on publication date, not on when I get them.

Stormdancer by Jay KristoffStormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Book one of The Lotus War
Released September 2012
Published by Tor Books
Read the blurb for Stormdancer on Gooodreads

This one kind of had me on the cover art alone. Once I read the words 'Japanese steampunk' I knew it was my kind of book. The use of griffins reminded me a lot of Lord of the Changing Winds, but the Oriental element (plus tasty steampunk) makes it something special.

Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel PolanskyTomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky
Book two of Low Town
Released October 2012
Published by Hodder
Read the blurb for Tomorrow the Killing on Amazon UK

I won't lie to you, I'm very excited about this one. After reading Polansky's debut novel, The Straight Razor Cure, I became an instant fan. His world his grim and his writing is superb. I can't wait to start reading this. Looking up the info for this book, I found that part of my review of the first novel is quoted in the Amazon description for Tomorrow the Killing. Awesome!

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad WilliamsThe Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
Book one of Bobby Dollar
Released September 2012
Published by Hodder
Read the blurb for The Dirty Streets of Heaven on Goodreads

I've not read anything by Tad Williams before, but I'm getting more and more into contemporary/urban fantasy so I thought I'd give this one a go. Plus, with recommendations from both George R.R Martin and Patrick Rothfuss, how could I say no?

Anyone like the look of any of these? How do you think Japanese steampunk would work?

9 July 2012

The Way of Kings (Part One) by Brandon Sanderson [book review]

The Way of Kings (Part One) by Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings (Part One) by Brandon Sanderson
Book one of The Stormlight Archive
Published by Gollancz
Paperback - 592 pages
Published May 2011
Personal copy of book

Read the synopsis for The Way of Kings on Goodreads

First of all, something has to be said about the artwork in the book. The maps, the sketches, the journal entries and the chapter illuminations all serve to enhance the experience of reading The Way of Kings. Nothing is superfluous here, and it adds an extra level of depth to the story. The artists who worked on them - Greg Call, Isaac Stewart and Ben McSweeney - should all be commended. A story isn't about how 'pretty' the book looks, I know, but the art is integrated so well that it deserves a mention.

Master of culture

Brandon Sanderson is a master of his craft. His world is teeming with rich, vibrant and diverse life. Sanderson seems to know every detail of Roshar, from the global climate and highstorm currents to the different attitudes of plantlife in different parts of the world. His world is detailed, but never boring, and a lot of this is down to his use of culture as an important element of his storytelling.

I loved reading about Kaladin. His back story and his determination to never give up (although he comes close) was inspiring. His sense of guilt drives him, and although others see him as lucky he sees himself as one who brings death to those around him. His path to the cusp of death and resolution to save the members of his slave crew were a pleasure to read.

I also really enjoyed the contrasting views of Dalinar's internal conflict. At one moment he is resolute in his convictions as a general and advisor of the king, and the next he fears for his sanity. He is a very proud but complex man, and the way he acts around his sons and his peers only scratched the surface of his persona.

An epic of epic epicness

Despite being a sprawling epic (at 600 pages for only half of book one, 'doorstopper' is an appropriate term)  at no point do you feel bogged down by exposition, info dumping or tedious chapters about 'the journey'. Sanderson manages to keep everything running at the right pace and still maintain depth to his characters and to his world.

You've got an excellent mix of character arcs that play to several fantasy favourites that combine them into a single story - court intrigue and politics (Dalinar and Andolin's war on the Shattered Plains), a quest (Shallan's attempted theft of a powerful artefact) and the personal redemption of a fallen hero (Kaladin and his fall from decorated soldier to bridgeman (the lowest of the low) and how he claws his way back).

Nothing is perfect, however. I found that the sheer size of the story meant that I'd spent a third of the novel without having read about Shallan, making me unsure of her place in the world once the focus shifted back to her. Also, the first few chapters had more than a few instances where full stops (periods) were left out of the ends of sentences, making each sentence tumble into the next.

The Way of Kings (Part One) is a masterpiece of fantasy literature. Sanderson has managed to achieve that to which many fantasy authors aspire - the creation of an entirely new world with a rich culture and brilliantly written characters. Bring on Part Two. In fact, give me everything that Brandon Sanderson has published to date. I'll gladly devour it.

7 July 2012

I'm guesting over at In Case of Survival, and I've won an award!


Wow, good news comes in bunches, it seems.

Guest blog microphone
Source: GoSocialOnline
First off, I'm a guest poster over at In Case of Survival, a post-apocalyptic survival site with excellent tips and a great sense of humour. I'm over there talking about . If you aren't subscribed to iCoS, then I strongly urge you to do so. They're my go-to site for anything about the post-apocalyptic world and they give some great advice. Thanks to the iCoS team for having me, and good luck to everyone trying to get zombie fit!


Also, Anna over at Universal Gibberish has given me some awesome awards:

There are quite a few rules for these awards, so I'm going to focus on the 7x7 Link Award to save space.

Rules: Link to the blog that gave you the award (done). Link to one of the posts that I personally think best fits the following seven categories and list seven blogs to pass it to.

  • Most Popular Piece: With the exception of the Natalie Portman post (because only those with questionable Google search histories go there, it seems) my most popular post was my fantasy art showcase on Jason Engle. No comments, but a hell of a lot of visits. Pictures do a lot of good, it seems.
  • Most Controversial Piece: I think the post I wrote on starting a series in the middle sparked the most debate and made me realise how my reading habits have changed since starting the blog.
  • Most Surprisingly Successful Piece: I was quite surprised at how many people liked my post for the Chinese New Year on my favourite dragons
  • Most Pride-Worthy Piece: Hands down, that was my entry for Cherie Reich's flash fiction contest. It was only 300 words, but it got me back into writing fiction again and it felt great. People seemed to like the concept and the magic system too, which was a plus.

And for the seven blogs that I nominate for all these awards:

Zoe at FantasyBytes
Hannah at My Book Journey
Joshua at Vive le Nerd
Allison at Geek Banter
Jeremy at Geeky Tendencies
Charles at The Written Word


Congrats to you guys! Also don't forget to pop over to In Case of Survival and say hi!

What's your most underrated blogpost?

5 July 2012

In which I sell out

Man holding sell out sign
Source: Loyalty Redefined

You might notice on the right sidebar that there's now an ad box. That's right, I'm testing out ads on Mithril Wisdom. That's because I've decided to sign up with Project Wonderful, an ad network that caters for blogs like mine as well as video games, webcomics and geek finery in general. Some of my favourite webcomics and blogs have Project Wonderful ads on their sites, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Why am I doing this?

Well, it has to do with giveaways. I really want to do more giveaways and competitions for you guys; I really enjoy doing it. The trouble is, postage can be a nightmare of a cost (especially since about half of the people who read this blog are on the other side of the Atlantic).

My thinking is that whatever revenue I get from these ads (and it's not a lot at the moment, trust me. At this rate it'll take me about 3 years to get less than $10) I can put towards getting really good prizes for competitions and being able to afford international postage for all of my giveaways. It'll also mean I can keep buying the www.mithrilwisdom.com URL every year.

My pledge to you

I've been debating hosting ads on the site for a while, and as long as they're on here I give you the following promise:

Every single penny that I get from these ads I will put back into making this blog better. That means more giveaways, more competitions, and more awesomeness for you. Every. Single. Penny.

I also plan to add this pledge to a disclaimer/disclosure page up on top so it'll be there permanently.

With that in mind, I want to host another giveaway once I hit 350 subscribers on here. I'm still unsure of what  to give though (it's a toss up between zombies and steampunk at the moment) so let me know your thoughts in the comments.

How were your July4th celebrations? What kind of stuff would you like to see in the next giveaway? Have I sacrificed my dignity and self respect in the name of making a quick buck?

4 July 2012

Top 5 contributions to fantasy by American authors

As promised in my Jubilee special on the top 5 British fantasy authors, in celebration of July 4th while everyone's going nuts with fireworks and such, I give you my top 5 American contributions to fantasy. They made it, and so can you.

Incidentally, I'd like to apologise for the behaviour of my nation during the 1700's. We get kind of greedy once we get our paws on a country. But we gave you guys Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Doctor Who, so forgive and forget, eh?

2 July 2012

In the mailbox - a video reveal

Box with questions marks on the sides
Source: Fictitious Musings

I've been wanting to do this for a while. This is my first Mithril Wisdom unboxing video, in which I open up a mystery book sent to me by a publisher. I had no clue what was being sent to me, so I decided to record the unboxing and my reactions. I've also done a voice over for the official blurb of the book. I realised I sound so much more Welsh when my voice is recorded.

Thanks to Chatto & Windus for sending me the book that I won on Twitter. Looks like I'm in for a treat! I'm in two minds about whether or not to do these mystery unboxing videos every now and again to shake things up; rather than having the usual "in my mailbox" posts.

Do you prefer these video reveals to standard [book cover - blurb] mailbox posts?
What would make them even better for you (be brutally honest; I'm always looking to improve)?
Why do I sound so damn Welsh on camera?