The 5th Puzzle: Why are the Treasures of Istanbul unknown?

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Research

When I was growing up I heard nothing about the beauty and wonders of Istanbul. I heard a lot about the wonders of Paris and Rome, but nothing positive about Istanbul. And I am a voracious reader of newspapers and magazines. Istanbul was the city of Midnight Express, a depiction of pure violence, and occasionally a political story would appear about a coup.  Imagine my surprise when I went to Istanbul to discover: 1. A museum that was the largest cathedral in Christendom for a thousand years, Hagia Sophia, which displays many of most important Byzantine artworks, mosaics, ever created. This building influenced mosques and inspired millions.  2. A palace, Topkapi, containinig Moses’ rod, original harem buildings, a treasury containing an 86-carat pear-shaped diamond, perhaps the most beautiful in the world, priceless art and artifacts and a view over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn that thousands died for. 3. A Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, a vision of ages past, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world dating from early Ottoman times. The list goes on too, the remains of a Roman Hippodrome, gigantic fortified Byzantine city walls and palaces, and mosques that are as beautiful as any in the world. The views everywhere make Istanbul perhaps the most beautiful city in Europe and certainly one of the most beautiful in the world. So why have all these treasures been ignored, and why do we rarely see mention of the beauty of Istanbul anywhere? Is it simply that many people just haven’t been there? I believe so. And I hope you enjoy Istanbul as much as I do when you go there. Before you go though, one last treasure must be mentioned. The vast majority of Istanbulers are among the friendliest and kindest people in the world. Perhaps they are its greatest treasure.   To order The Istanbul Puzzle click here....

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The Themes of The Manhattan Puzzle

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Historical Puzzles, Mystery Novels, On Writing, The Manhattan Puzzle

What has been hidden in Manhattan? What would you do to a banker who treated ordinary people like slaves? What allows Manhattan to rise again despite everything the world throws at it?  These are the themes of The Manhattan Puzzle. The story sees Sean and Isabel reunited in Manhattan at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest banks, which is about to go bust. There’s been some grisly murders, and now the plot takes a new twist. The contents of the book they found in Istanbul are revealed. My personal journey with this story grew out of my disgust at the financial crisis that has brought many so low. I am interested in the myths and the beliefs of those who value money above everything. All edits have been submitted and approved. We are on track for a global release, in English, on October 10th by Harper Collins. But don’t get me wrong. I love Manhattan. It’s a city in a snow globe of dollar bills. So look in your bookstore and on your E-readers and pre-order if you want or just sit tight. You’ll be hearing more about this...

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Symbol Secrets from The Jerusalem Puzzle & a £100 prize.

Posted by on Dec 6, 2012 in Historical Puzzles, The Jerusalem Puzzle

The square and arrow symbol in the manuscript Sean and Isabel found under Hagia Sophia in The Istanbul Puzzle returns in The Jerusalem Puzzle. In The Jerusalem Puzzle the symbol is discovered in the Museum of Antiquities in central Cairo near Tahrir Square.  This is the museum where  King Tutankhamun’s famous golden mask is on display. The remains of many famous Pharaohs are housed there, as well as items from their tombs, along with a huge papyrus and coin collection on the ground floor. Sean goes to the museum after seeing a picture of a papyrus fragment in a guide to the museum. Here is the fragment: My interest in the square and arrow symbol was inspired by this fragment. The caption on the card beneath the fragment reads, according to my notes: Papyrus fragment found 1984 in rubbish pit near the Black Pyramid (built King Amenemhat III, Middle Kingdom era, 2055-1650 BC), by the Austrian Institute of Cairo. The lower hieroglyph represents the Queen of Darkness. The upper hieroglyph has not been deciphered. The only other example of these hieroglyphs is from a stone inscription at the Gihon Pool in Jerusalem, a Canaanite province of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom era. The symbol reappears later in The Jerusalem Puzzle when it is used as a marker and also near the end when its purpose is further alluded too. The Jerusalem Puzzle provides strong clues as to what this symbol means. And there is still a prize of £100 available to anyone who breaks the code contained in the symbol. Some other possible meanings since I created this original post on what the symbol means, include that it was used as a mnemonic or that it was an old Mandarin symbol for the sun found in the  Zhongyuan Yinyun. The character has been simplified in modern Mandarin to 日 (rì) meaning day; sun; date; or day of the month according to that theory. I don’t know if any of that will help you win the £100 prize! But it just might. Good luck! And remember – no purchase is necessary to solve this...

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Foreshadowing. What makes you read on? #4

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in On Writing

This is the final post in this series, created as a lead in the launch of The Jerusalem Puzzle ebook on Monday Dec 3rd.  We have had: A sense of adventure. What makes you read on? #1 Action opening alternatives. What makes you read on? #2 A sense of mystery. What makes you read on? #3 and now this final post in the series. Foreshadowing, for me, comes in two forms. The first is the simple, “something different was about to happen” phrase inserted in the text, which makes the reader wonder what is about to happen. I recommend doing this only very occasionally. I think I use this explicit form of foreshadowing only twice in The Jerusalem Puzzle. The reason you can’t use it very often is that readers get tired of such things very easily. Explicit foreshadowing loses its appeal very quickly. The second type of foreshadowing is a general foreshadowing brought about by the plot. For instance, if the main character is going  to Jerusalem to investigate the disappearance of someone he knows, then the reader will naturally anticipate what will happen next. This subtle foreshadowing is useful because it uses the reader’s imagination. It’s not just plot driven novels that use subtle foreshadowing, literary novels use it too. When any change or event is anticipated in the text you are using foreshadowing. Inspiring anticipation is a critical aspect of writing compelling fiction in my opinion. Anticipation is, for me, one of the greatest pleasures of being alive. Looking forward to Christmas, a holiday, a big game, a night out, a family event, an election, are what keeps many of us going through the hum drum nature of everyday life. If you can inspire anticipation in your writing, by hinting at what is to come, you will have cracked a powerful technique to make people read on. And I use make deliberately. I hope you have enjoyed this series. If you would like to order The Jerusalem Puzzle please click one of the links to the right. Next week  I will post about the secrets revealed in The Jerusalem Puzzle. Thanks for coming...

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A sense of mystery. What makes you read on? #3

Posted by on Nov 18, 2012 in On Writing

  I will tell you a little-known secret about why people read on. The secret concerns the way our brains operate. It will help you pull your readers forward through your story. As a writer, it is vitally important that you know this. The second secret is . . . wait, there’s someone at the door. I hope it’s not that guy who was waving a gun at me when I cut in front of him a few minutes ago. He looked like one mean mother. Wait . . . what the! The third secret of creating a sense of mystery is . . . hold on, I could finish this, but I think there are three people outside now. And one of them is around the back. And there’s another one upstairs! What the hell is that buzzing noise? Is that a chainsaw? Maybe two! The fourth secret of mystery is easy to guess. It goes back a long way. You know, I was always afraid of one thing. When I was a child it wasn’t men in masks that worried me. It was something more ancient, more hard wired inside me, more evil. Something I couldn’t escape. Do you know what it is? If you want to know the fifth mystery you will have to wait until the next time we get back to this subject. To summarise, the five techniques for creating a sense of mystery in your writing, as used above, are: * Foreshadowing and keeping people waiting for an answer. * Putting your character in danger. * Increasing the danger. * Shifting the fear to something different, something older or more personal * The cliff hanger. These techniques must not be over-used, but if you use them well, in a new and unique way, you will drive your readers to read on. And that’s what we want, isn’t it, for readers to read our stories? I wonder would you mind telling us, through a comment below, which other mystery techniques writers use, as this list isn’t intended to be complete, just a good starting point for a conversation?...

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