The Seventh Age – A Review

Jack Eason’s “The Seventh Age”

This book is not for light readers. It is heavily couched with geography, history, archaeology, science, science-fiction, knowledge of machines and items of destruction as well as…heck, let’s just throw in the kitchen sink…an alien and love story.

It is obvious the amount of time and research that went into this novel, yes I said “NOVEL” showing us the type of knowledge of a real teacher as well as author. Using the Mayan clock as his basis, Jack Eason weaves a tale of globe trotting, intrigue and mayhem. (I can easily see a movie similar in style to The Da Vinci Code here). His style is descriptive, even if a bit too verbose at times, slowing down the pace of the plot, but well worth sticking it through, as he delivers: wit, humour, the foibles of us humans and the satisfying conclusion of a race against time itself.

G.D. Steel
Author Jersey Daze

Whats my Name?

It’s not very often that I rant about something you must admit. But after a lifetime of hearing and seeing my surname mispronounced and misspelt, enough is enough. So here goes. Prepare yourselves for a tiny rant. It may not matter to you but it does to me:

At one time or another during your lifetime, I’m sure you have groaned inwardly when someone mispronounces or misspells your surname. Once or even twice you can forgive them their ignorance. But for it to go on endlessly throughout your lifetime becomes tiresome. 
Take my own for instance – Eason, pronounced Eeson– a simple enough surname to comprehend you would think. The English version is derived from Eade and Ayson, via the Scottish and Irish versions which come down to us from the Gaelic surname Mac Aoidh.
The number of times folk deliberately add a letter ‘t’ in the middle, changing my surname to Easton are too numerous to count. Then there are a small number of people who will insist on shortening the name to East, or Eas for some strange reason known only to themselves, not to mention those who change it totally to Essen, Essten or Easyon.
Next we have another group who will insist on changing it to Easeon. I don’t need to ease on my name; it fits me perfectly well in its original form thank you very much.
Like a lot of English surnames it was simply made up in the dim past by someone who needed to choose a name to differentiate himself from his male offspring in the eyes of the lord of the manor. So instead of calling him son of Ea or Ay for instance, the child became Eason or Ayson; the name being their given or Christian name. Eventually Eason became a surname.
So for the sake of my sanity please get it right.  Surely it’s not that difficult – is it?  My surname is Eason. 
When the time comes for me to shuffle off this mortal coil, I swear I will come back to haunt the stonemason who misspells my name on my headstone!

Book Reviews on Amazon

Over the past several months, an insidious practice has begun to take hold within Amazon. I refer to the ‘pulling’ of reviews on certain books. To date Amazon has not yet come up with a cogent reason for removing the reviews. Below is the text of an email sent to Amazon by a vocal champion of all Indie writers – Rick Carufel – to enquire why this practice has become prevalent:

                                                            Rick Carufel

Hi jeff,


I and many others are deeply concerned by the recent trend by Amazon in removing large numbers of reviews from ebooks.  I am in contact with hundreds of indy writers and publishers and we want an explanation of what is going on.  The reasons that have been provided by Amazon thus far have been evasive at best. Your policy that states you no longer allow reviews by artists, writers, family or friends would seem impossible to verify or enforce in most instances and there are far too many reviews for Amazon to go through them to investigate which meet you Draconian criteria or not.  

Therefore it can only be assumed that you are summarily pulling reviews base on unsubstantiated complaints.  How could Amazon possibly know if a review is done by a friend, family or artist?  Unless you have some highly invasive software that violates privacy you could not.

The Amazon forums are infested by petty megalomaniacs and Amazon seems to only feed their egos.  Most bad reviews for indy writers originate from the forums and are especially prevalent after a Kindle Select Free Promotion.  Yet although the guidelines you are so fond of quoting require reviewers  say whether a book was free, these reviews fail to comply.  The forum trolls are especially hostile to indy writers and delight in the fact that one of their vindictive reviews could hurt the sales of a writer.

Many authors have stopped putting their books in Kindle Select because the return is no longer worth it.  At one time a give-a-way would drive sales but Amazon has somehow sabotaged that and now all an author can expect from a free promotion is bad reviews from the forum trolls who got the books for free.

We all know that reviews drive sales and by Amazon removing reviews, sometimes as many as 10 for a single book, you are causing monetary damages to the book sellers.  Something must be done about the deteriorating environment that Amazon seems to be creating for indy writers and publishers of ebooks.

Amazon needs to make a public statement about what you are trying to do and what you intend to achieve by the seemingly unsubstantiated claims for removal of reviews.  Are you intentionally trying to drive away indy writers/publishers?  Because that is what is happening.
Are you intentionally trying to damage the sales of indy writers?  because that is what you are doing.

A full explanation of what you are doing and how you would presume to be verifying the validity of complaints about reviews or whether or not they are made by one of the groups you seem to be discriminating against would be in order.  Artists can’t do reviews?  Why? Authors as far as I know are some of your best customers as most writers are also avid readers.  Who would be more qualified to review a book than a writer?

I am an artist, a writer and a publisher.  Why if I buy a book, read it and wish to post a review would you want to prevent me from doing so?  What is the reasoning behind this absurd stance?
Are you catering to a bunch of forum trolls who wish to control the review process of ebooks on Amazon?

Please respond with specific answers.  We writers and publishers are tired of allusions to possible reasons, guidelines that are basically written in such a way that Amazon can use them to justify the removal of any review, and basic stonewalling from Amazon on what the hell is going on here.  What is the goal or results Amazon hopes to achieve by their recent actions?    Do we have to make a public outcry and turn this into a media circus to get some answers?  Hundreds of indy writers and publishers want some answers.

Thanks,
Rick Carufel
I should mention that Rick gave me his permission to add his email. 
It will be interesting in the extreme to see whether or not Amazon reply to Rick’s email, plus what that reply, if any, may contain.

Friendly Helpful Banks, give me a break???

All I needed was to obtain two specific sets of numbers from my bank – the IBAN and BIC numbers; so that my publisher could electronically transfer the royalties owed me from their account in the US to mine here in the UK. A simple enough task you would have thought.
The first thing I did was to log on to my ‘secure’ online bank account and see if I could find them within it. Unfortunately the only numbers I found were those of my bank account and its sort code. And so I decided to make use of the ‘Contact Us’ button while still within the confines of my online bank account. After all, if I could not see the numbers I needed, surely the bank’s help desk would oblige – right?
Wrong!
I can honestly say that I have never met a more unhelpful bunch in my entire life! No matter what I said, they used every trick in the book to stall me. “We’re sorry but we cannot email the numbers to you as emails are unsecure. Please phone such and such a number.” Have you ever tried to phone your bank in this country or any other come to that?  The fact that my initial enquiry was made via my passworded online bank account, which they proudly state is a secure site, seems to have totally escaped them!
I then asked them to send them to me using snail mail, to which I was once again told they cannot do that as they have no way of determining who I am!!! Once again, they deliberately ignored the fact that I had initially contacted them via my passworded, so-called secure bank account page. If my bank account page is indeed secure, then their statement that they cannot determine who I am is complete balderdash as they received my request from within it!
The person I was dealing with mentioned that all I had to do was take a look at my paper bank statement. He assured me that both the IBAN and BIC numbers were on there. After informing him that I no longer receive paper statements having gone paperless years ago, I thanked him. I went back to my so-called ‘secure’ bank account and selected a statement at random to order a paper copy, thinking that at long last I could get the IBAN and BIC numbers I needed – job done right? 
I could not have been more wrong. First of all, it took six days for the paper statement to arrive, and when I checked it the only numbers on it were my bank account number and its sort code.
You would have thought that given the fact they make money from your money, they would have fallen over themselves to be helpful. Friendly helpful banks – sadly that is not my experience.

Hobbyhorses

With the introduction of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, at one time or another we have all read diatribes by people with a particular axe to grind regarding publishing. 
The authors of these endless rants have created their very own hobbyhorse, which they seem unable, or indeed unwilling, to dismount. Reading something from them once or twice may be interesting or even thought provoking. But when they endlessly bleat on ad infinitum, using the same tired arguments simply because of their particular hatred towards an institution, or someones particular point of view, it becomes tiresome in the extreme.
One person of my acquaintance who constantly attacks a specific book publisher (mine as it happens) – not their own I may add, simply because they hate the way the said publisher has now become dominant in the marketplace, and has allowed self-published writers like myself to offer our work to the reading world at large, really needs to step back from the brink for the moment and take a look at what it is they are saying. More specifically, they need to look at their own contributions and ask themselves this simple question – is my own work good enough?
There is another person I know whose uses their blog to constantly attack everyone who dares to write in the English language. In that particular person’s case, they have a totally illogical view about the use of the language and especially the use of its punctuation. Given that the English language is not the blogger’s first, their views are to say the least comical. The fact that the person advertises themselves as an editor simply boggles the mind.
Then there are the people who think that they are being deliberately targeted by a specific publisher for some totally illogical reason, simply because their books are doing so badly. The fault isn’t on the part of the publisher. They merely offer you a platform. The fault sits squarely in your own lap. True, there are some publishers who will hold you back for reasons of their own. But all you have to do is simply part company with them, and consciously enter the world of ‘self-publishing’ as I did.
Instead of constantly attacking your particular publisher, perhaps you should be asking yourself why it is that your work is not doing so well within the world of books. Biting the hand that can potentially feed you seems to me to be totally self-defeating, not to say downright ungrateful.
Get over yourselves! Stop constantly whining and complaining. Writing is one of the toughest learned skills there is. Don’t necessarily compose what you think the marketplace wants, or enter a particular genre because it is currently popular. Instead take a calculated risk. Try to write something that will grip your potential reading public’s imagination. I’ve been constantly writing since 1995. My favourite genre is science fiction. But my latest offering is in the realm of fantasy. 
With each new piece of work, I learn a valuable lesson. I was extremely grateful when my first publisher took me on. But inevitably the time came when it was essential for us to part if I was to progress.
Among friends we all tend to bellyache about different things. But the one thing I refrain from doing is to publically attack those who are willing to publish my words. I leave any form of mindless attack in that department to the numbskulls of this world and the internet trolls.

Are you a gamer from way back? I am!

 I have one specific game I love to bits. It is – Battlefield Bad Company. I’ve nearly worn the disc out playing it.
The game is set in a future war between the Russian Federation and the United States. It concerns a four man squad from “B” Company of the 222nd Army battalion, more commonly known as “Bad Company”, composed of troublemakers the US army doesn’t necessarily want. Along the way you encounter a group of mercenaries under the control of a sinister character called the Legionnaire, who pays his men with gold bars.
You take the part of Private Preston Marlowe. Why you are here isn’t explained, but you must have done something pretty bad to wind up in Bad Company. 
The rest of the squad consists of Private Terrence Sweetwater aka Sweets, who just doesn’t know when to shut up. Either he is constantly whining which winds everyone up, or he is boring you to death with useless facts.
Haggs
Next we have my personal favourite character – Private George Gordon Haggard Jr., aka Haggard or Haggs, a pyromaniac who is always getting the squad into scrapes. Haggs is the guy who ‘blows stuff up’ within Bad Company. His passion for explosions is legendary. The two other loves of his life are the Dallas Cheerleaders and gold. Haggs constantly argues with Sweets. Haggs is definitely the source of the comedy within the squad. At one point in the game he inadvertently invades another country in his search for the mercenaries gold bars, making it necessary for the rest of the squad to go after him. Haggard is a ‘good old boy’ in the finest traditions. He is the least intelligent member of the group, but the most likeable. He comes up with the funniest lines. Haggs has a secret desire to own a monster truck like ‘Truckasaurus Rex’.
Lastly we have Sergeant Samuel D. Redford aka sarg, or Redford, who is the long suffering leader of the squad. Redford foolishly volunteered for his position, in exchange for shortening his term of service and has only three days left to serve.
I’ve played the game in all three levels of expertise – easy, normal and insane. Each time I play it, thanks to the excellence of the maps, I choose a different path to take. In one specific map you are on your own while you try to find the rest of your squad who are holed up in a monastery high up in the hills.
I also have the follow up game – Battlefield Bad Company 2, in which the guys have to battle against seemingly endless numbers of bad guys. The shame of it is that in the second game, Haggs has lost his sense of humour while the rest of the team are the same as they were in the original game.
I hope and pray that the game’s originators – Dice – produce a third game for the squad and that they give Haggs back his sense of humour.

Say No to Amazon Trolls

If the product of your long hours of hard work is published through Amazon, inevitably you will be sought out and subjected to derision, invective and bile by cowardly nonentities who hide behind pseudonyms in the online ‘Chat Rooms’. I refer to what are generally known as Amazon Trolls.

In a recent landmark case here in the UK, Facebook was ordered to unmask online Trolls, who were delivering their vile attacks upon a seemingly powerless victim. Read this  Trolls to be Unmasked

If an internet giant like Facebook can be made to do the decent thing, then the time is long past for Amazon to be ordered by the courts to do the same thing.

Most of us at one time or another have found an Amazon Troll’s so-called ‘review’ on one or other of our book’s Amazon pages. It’s bad enough when total morons, who cannot even be bothered to check the spelling of their ‘opinion’ before clicking the publish button think they are being clever by writing total claptrap, contributing nothing.

So, come on Amazon, as your source of new books we writers also need protection. Do the decent thing and close down your own brand of internet Trolls. We are all heartily fed up with the opinions of these idiots. Freedom of speech is one thing. Deliberate mindless attacks is quite another.