Monday, 24 December 2012

'The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate' - Chapter 1

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm feeling full of the spirit of Chrimbley. Subsequently, I thought I'd post the first Chapter of 'The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate' as a small tease of what's to come when I release the next TH book in March (hopefully). Anyway, may I wish everyone a fantastic Xmas and here it is:



Carl Ashmore

Chapter 1

Tut’s Toy

Egypt. The Valley of the Kings. November 26th 1922.  2.00pm.

Howard Carter’s hand wouldn’t stop trembling. He mopped a thick line of sweat from his brow and stepped back to admire the sealed door illuminated orange from the torchlight behind him. The outline of the Royal Necropolis seal, the jackal and nine captives, was faint but unmistakable. Lightly, he brushed away a layer of dust, to reveal the pictogram behind. Carter recognised it immediately. In that instant, an older man’s voice met his ears.
‘This is it, Howard,’ Lord Carnarvon exhaled. ‘Look at the seal impressions, the cartouche. It’s him. I know it.’  
Carter examined the doorframe. ‘It doesn’t mean this is his tomb, sir,’ he replied, keeping his voice as steady as he could. ‘Remember when Davis found the cache of Akhenaten. It was similar to this.’
‘Similar but different,’ Lord Carnarvon said eagerly. ‘On the other side of this door lies the forgotten one. I’m certain of it.’ His eyes shone with child-like glee. ‘You’ve found him, Howard. You’ve found him.’
Deep down, Carter believed his benefactor to be right, but he wasn’t about to voice it out loud. He’d suffered too many disappointments to feel anything less than cautious. ‘We shall see, sir. We shall see.’
‘Damn it, man - call me George, will you?’ Lord Carnarvon insisted. ‘You’re on the precipice of the greatest discovery of the century. I think we can drop the formalities. What say you, Evelyn?’
A young dark-haired woman with pearl-white skin clasped the older man’s hand. ‘Daddy, I really don’t think Mr Carter cares how we address each other at this particular moment. Isn’t that correct, Mr Carter?’
Carter’s heart was pounding so loudly he didn’t hear a word. ‘I beg your pardon, Lady Herbert?’
Lady Herbert smiled kindly. ‘It doesn’t matter.’
‘Go on then, man,’ Lord Carnarvon urged. ‘What are you waiting for?’
Carter swallowed hard. His gaze fell nervously on the hammer in his right hand, before settling on the chisel in his left. The same chisel his grandmother had given him on his seventeenth birthday. He angled the chisel’s nib on the door’s left hand corner and raised the hammer. BUMPH – a chunk of plaster fell away.
Inhaling a lungful of warm, stale air, he struck the chisel again. With a puff of dust, it broke through to the other side; he heard the soft crackle of plaster speckle the floor beyond.
His pulse racing wildly now, Carter pulled the chisel free to expose a small circular hole. Slowly, meticulously, he chipped away its edges, until the hole was the size of a dinner plate. Then he turned to the tall, moustached man on his left, ‘Arthur, could you pass me a candle, please?’
‘Certainly, old chap.’ Arthur Callender drew a candle from his shoulder bag, lit it and passed it over.
Dabbing his brow again, Carter inserted the candle into the blackness and watched the flame flicker left and right. ‘No foul gases,’ he said in a relieved voice.
‘Thank God,’ Lord Carnarvon said. ‘Then come on, man. Don’t keep us in suspense… take a look.’
‘And the best of luck, Mr Carter,’ Lady Herbert said sincerely. ‘You deserve it.’
Carter glanced back at her. ‘Thank you, ma’am.’ A nervous smile split his face. ‘Here goes nothing…’ He leaned forward and his head disappeared from sight.
It took a while for Carter’s eyes to adjust to the soft glow of candlelight, but when they did he saw a mass of objects surface from the gloom: golden objects - glistening, gleaming, as clean and flawless as the day they had been placed there.
In that moment, Carter knew he had fulfilled his lifelong dream. As a boy, he had visited William Amherst’s ‘Egyptian Room’ at Didlington Hall, and since then had been obsessed with Ancient Egypt. And now he had made the most important discovery in the history of Egyptology. Tears misted his eyes.
He had found the Boy King.
He had found Tutankhamen.
‘Can you see anything?’ Lord Carnarvon asked impatiently.
Carter took a long time to reply. ‘Yes,’ he said in barely a whisper. ‘Wonderful things …’
‘Let me see …’ Lord Carnarvon shuffled to Carter’s side. ‘Mr. Callender, would you be so kind as to get an electric torch?’
‘Certainly, sir,’ Callender said, turning away and exiting the passageway.
‘Howard, would you widen the breach so an old man can share in your glory?’
‘Of course.’
For ten minutes, Carter chiseled neatly at the hole, until it was as wide as a dustbin lid.  At the same time, Callender returned with an electric torch, which he promptly handed to Lord Carnarvon.
‘I feel like a boy again,’ Lord Carnarvon said, his voice aquiver.
‘And you look like one, Daddy,’ Lady Herbert said. ‘I’ve never seen you happier.’
‘Aside from your birth, child, I doubt I have been.’
Lord Carnarvon gripped Carter’s arm, steadying himself, before directing the torch ahead. He sent a beam of misty light into the opening.
At once, the two men gave simultaneous gasps of astonishment.
The antechamber was overflowing with artefacts – gilded chests, ornamental plates, silver vases, a golden throne, disassembled chariots – all of them piled shambolically from floor to ceiling. Two life sized ebony-black statues of Tutankhamen faced each other on the North wall, as if guarding the way ahead.
Carter and Lord Carnarvon stood there for an age, silent, motionless, as the sheer enormity of the moment swept over them. Then Carter lowered his gaze. It was then something caught his eye - something he would never have expected in a million years. His head reeled.  ‘Shine the light down there, please, sir.’
Lord Carnarvon noted the confusion in his voice. ‘What is it, Howard?’
Carter pointed downwards. ‘The light … there, please.’
Lord Carnarvon complied. To his surprise, the torchlight illuminated a wide assortment of children’s toys. ‘But they’re just toys, Howard. Tut was barely out of childhood when he died, it makes sense they’d be buried with him.’
Carter didn’t respond. Instead, he extended his arm, gesturing for Lord Carnarvon to move back. ‘Stand with Lady Herbert, please, sir.’
Lord Carnarvon looked confused. ‘What do you –?’
‘Move back!’ Carter bellowed, his voice rebounding off the walls.
Shocked by Carter’s tone, Lord Carnarvon stepped into the arms of his equally bewildered daughter.
Carter flung the chisel aside, and raised the hammer high. There wasn’t a trace of precision this time as - BAMMM - he slammed the hammer into the door. The walls shook; heavy clumps of plaster pounded the ground.
Callender had never seen his friend act in such a way. ‘What are you doing, Howard?’ he yelled.
Carter ignored him. Teeth gritted, he struck the door again, harder this time. The hole widened further; his legs were engulfed in a cloud of dust and plaster.
‘Howard, what the hell is going on?’ Callender asked. ‘You’re acting like a lunatic.’
‘Quiet, Arthur,’ Carter replied forcefully. Then, slowly, he leaned into the hole, his top half disappearing from view. He appeared to be scrambling for something on the floor. A moment later, he stood upright, utter confusion on his face.
‘Howard,’ Lord Carnarvon barked. ‘What has come over you?’
Wordlessly, Carter turned towards them. Cradled in his hands was an object, an ornately carved wooden object, painted in the most vibrant of reds.
Lord Carnarvon couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘My Lord!’
‘I - I don’t understand,’ Lady Evelyn gasped.
Callender had turned as white as a sheet. ‘I - it can’t be,’ he gasped. ‘It’s just not possible.’
Silence surrounded them.
Finally, Carter spoke, ‘What should we do?’
 ‘Put it back, man,’ Lord Carnarvon said at once. ‘We need time to think about this. Let us secure the tomb for the day, put it under armed guard, allow no one to enter, and we shall discuss the implications of all of this over dinner.’
‘But we’re having dinner with Charles Butterby tonight, Daddy,’ Lady Herbert said. ‘He’s made the trip from England.’
‘I don’t even know this Butterby chap,’ Lord Carnarvon sighed irritably, ‘but very well. We have dinner with Butterby and then the four of us meet up at my accommodations afterwards. Either way, we tell no one about any of this until we’ve had time to discuss it.’
‘You’re right, sir.’ Carter said. ‘And I apologise for raising my voice.’
‘Not at all, Howard,’ Lord Carnarvon said kindly. ‘I’m certain I would have been somewhat quick-tempered if I’d have been the first to spot it.’
Carter nodded. Returning the object to the antechamber, he delicately placed it beside the model of a funery ship, and allowed his gaze to fall on it one last time. His head reeled as he pondered the all-important question.
What was a toy double-decker bus doing in the tomb of the most famous Pharaoh of them all? A tomb sealed from the outside world for over three thousand years.

Monday, 20 August 2012

'The Time Hunters' - Brazilian contract signed...

I am delighted to say that today I've signed the contract from major publishing house, Bertrand Brasil, to get TH1 published as a print & ebook in Brazil. For me, it's a dream come true. I'm very proud to be an independent writer in Britain, but it's also  humbling to think that a major publishing company in Brazil has faith in the series to publish it for the Brazilian market.

I'll keep you all informed of all developments.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

TH3 - The Teaser Poster

Even though I am many months away from releasing the the third TH book, 'The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate', I just thought I'd get the promotional campaign started nice  by releasing the first teaser poster. I'd like to say a big thank you to Alexander Massey for his wonderful work on it.

I shall be heading to the South of France for my hols this weekend, but will be taking the trusty laptop and hope to get some writing done. It'll be strange to visit somewhere so warm yet write a chapter or two set in the icy climes of the Himalayas ... ;)

Here's the teaser poster:

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

'The Time Hunters' - a book deal...

As I mentioned in my previous post, a major Brazilian publisher has expressed interest in publishing 'The Time Hunters' in Brazil. I am very proud to announce they have now made an offer and I have provisionally accepted. I'm now just awaiting the contract. We'll just have to see what that says...

Obviously, this is a very exciting time for me and 'The Time Hunters' and I would like to thank the staunch support the books have received from the online community.

I hope it's also a story that gives hope to indie authors everywhere. The publisher contacted me out of the blue. This means they must be taking note of the charts/reviews on Amazon in the UK and USA. In short, foreign publishers are actively looking and prepared to invest money in independent talent across the world. The message - keep writing, keep promoting, keep trying ...

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Brazillian Connection

I'd just like to report some great news that has happened recently. A major publishing house in Brazil (Bertrand Brasil - publishers of Lee Child, Marian Keyes, Umberto Eco etc) have emailed me asking if I would be prepared to sell the rights of 'The Time Hunters' for them to publish as a print and ebook. It came completely out of the blue and was a lovely surprise. Now, I'm sure these deals fall through all the time but it's nice for a publisher to show such interest, albeit one a few thousand miles away. The book is now in Rio De Janeiro and I'm awaiting their offer ... :)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

'The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate' - the inventions...

One of the things I enjoy about writing the TH books is creating Uncle Percy's  inventions. Anyway, early in TH3 we are introduced to 'The Hologramophone'. All I will say is that every home should have one ... (and probably will in twenty years or so).

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate

After a very detailed re-write of TH1 (which is now available to re-upload on Kindle or buy in paperback) I have returned to writing the third Time Hunters book. And for all those interested, here is the monumental historical event dealt with in Chapter 1.


Saturday, 3 March 2012

The third month at a thousand plus sales ...

I'm delighted to say that for the third month in a row, sales of 'The Time Hunters' books have easily surpassed the 1000 sales mark. Many thanks to all that have bought one.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The second month in a row with TH sales at a 1000 plus.

I'm delighted to say that for the second month on the trot (and still with three days to go until the end of the month) sales of 'The Time Hunters' have reached over a thousand. When I started this self-publishing journey my dream target was  to hit 500 a month. The fact that I am now doubling that figure is wonderful. Many thanks to all those that have given the TH books a go. I really am in your debt.

I am also proud to say that TH1 has now garnered 49 out of 54 Five star reviews in the UK. Again, I am most grateful.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Meeting with The Blair Partnership

Hi all,

Just to let everyone know that I had a meeting in London yesterday with Zoe King and Liz from the Blair Partnership (the new literary agency that counts JK Rowling as a client). I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. For a new agency, they have such a fresh, progressive approach to dealing with authors and I think it's going to be a fantastic enterprise in the future.

I found Zoe and Liz extremely welcoming, approachable and supportive. We'll have to see whether it leads somewhere (I certainly hope it does), but either way, I certainly valued the experience and can recommend other authors approach them.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

TH3 - is underway

Just a short note to let everyone know that I have started writing TH3. It will, almost certainly, take me longer than TH2. However, as I did with the other books I'll be dropping clues all over the net. And here's the first ever TH3 tidbit:

Uncle Percy, Becky, Will and Joe will be visiting Gimbeldok (a furry character mentioned in Book 1.)

Many thanks to everyone for the amazing reviews of TH2. I'm overwhelmed.