Then and Now

I was having a conversation with my good friend Jamie Boswell, here in my home town yesterday. His brother Duncan (the man responsible for the superbly executed map of Goblindom in my fantasy anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales for Adults and his girlfriend are soon off to New Zealand, the land I love, for a few weeks. Like most young people operating on a budget, when it comes to seeking a bed for the night, they plan to find a cheap hostel for the first few days they are there. And so I suggested to Jamie that he might mention they utilize the YHA hostels that pepper both of the main islands (North and South) that go to make up the bulk of the country.

Like a lot of people these days, Jamie hadn’t heard of the Youth Hostel Association, despite it being a worldwide organisation. And so I hunted out my life membership card to show him. On opening it, a ghost from the past stared back at me from a grainy 1 x 1/2 ” passport style photograph.

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Me aged twenty-six in 1974, a lifetime ago.

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Compare that to me today in 2020 now almost seventy-two – almost… A lot has happened in the intervening forty six years, not all of it good.

Ah the ticking of time…  😉

Progress Report 4

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The research goes well. If you think you know where the main thrust of the new Gilbert Briggs story is set after perusing the images I have supplied, you may be wrong.

Remember, no amount of pleading on your part will make me reveal anything. It may, or may not involve any or all of these locations. It’s for me to know and for you to find out when you read it.

 

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It might even be set here…

A by-product of studying all of the historical and geographical subjects pictured here is that each one sparks an idea which may or may not become crucial to the story.

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Of course, it could be here. Only time will tell.

More later…

😀

Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for ‘CLASSICS: Why we should encourage children to read them’

I don’t know about you, but I am immensely proud of our Fiza. Well done that lady!!!!

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 NABE Summer 2014 
Pinnacle Book Achievement
AWARD WINNERS

Best Books in the
Category of EDUCATION
Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children To Read Them
Fiza Pathan

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When will I Ever Learn?

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There was a time when like most people earning a wage I did just what was required of me and no more, merely to stay employed. Then back in nineteen seventy five I secured a job as a lab technician in a leading New Zealand university. I absolutely loved being there. Barely a year had passed before I changed my attitude regarding the employee/employer relationship. Yes I was still receiving a weekly wage. But the benefits of working there changed me forever. From that day forward I have continued to give, give, give to the detriment of my sanity and wellbeing.

Back then as an emerging writer, being able to pick the brains of certain among the academics within the School of Science where I worked was an absolute godsend as far as I was concerned. In appreciation, whenever any of them wanted something from me, I gave them two hundred percent of my time and energy. Five years before I finally quit in two thousand, after twenty-five years loyal service, I was hospitalized after suffering the first of two major breakdowns. There is only so much stress an individual can cope with before your system shuts down to protect itself, and you.

In two thousand and three, I quit my job here in the UK to return to New Zealand with one aim in mind, to concentrate on writing the Science Fiction Space Opera which by then had completely taken me over. I just had to get it done! To say I was obsessed would be a major understatement. Nothing else mattered.

Why head back there? Because If I had remained here, either I must buckle down and carry on working in a dead end occupation working as a labourer on a building site in Hampshire (the only job available to me at the time), or pursue my dream. I needed the peace and tranquility that New Zealand offered, and still does…

You would have thought that the fact it almost finished me off would have slowed me down. It hasn’t. Because of the level of stress and anxiety, when I returned to the UK, I had another episode far worse than the first. This time what triggered it was the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness over the endless rejection letters each time I sought a publisher for my first novel which added to the usual stress I had become accustomed to.

Yesterday, after gathering together a raft of research material for my next novel, I began ravenously devouring the information like there was no tomorrow. Then the old familiar alarm bells rang in my head.

Ease up you idiot!

At one point I even imagined that I heard the famous line from the nineteen sixty-six song by Jerry Samuels aka Napolean XIV – “They’re coming to take me away, Ha Haa” in my mind. You would have thought that after almost sixty-seven years, I would have learned to pace myself by now. When will I ever learn? Probably never.

More fool me…

😀

Click On The Link Below To See The Song Being Performed

http://youtu.be/hnzHtm1jhL4

Beware The Future – It’s Closer than You Think. What The Internet of Things Means For Indie Authors. Part 1.

A classic look at the reluctance here in the UK to embrace the ‘new’…

Mark Williams - The International Indie Author

Go Global In 2014

The problem with the future is, its coming up behind you. You can never be quite sure how far away it is, and you can never be quite sure whether it will sweep you up with it, sweep by and leave you behind, or just run right over you.

Over at the Motley Fool recently they ran this snippet from an old copy of Newsweek. From February 1995.

In it one Newsweek journalist opined,

“Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries, and multimedia classrooms… [They say] we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure. The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper…

“We’re promised instant catalog shopping — just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more…

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Arrogance, Snobbery and Professionalism in the Writing World

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One of the comments in yesterday’s blog post Writers, Believe in Yourselves – Stand On Your Own Two Feet touched on the arrogance and downright snobbery rife within the editing and publishing communities. She quoted the following, which as writers we have all seen in various versions on writing sites and in literary magazines and newsletters over the years – “A writer who decides to be his/her own editor has a fool for a client. Only a professional editor can ensure that the indie author will produce something better than crap.”

She chooses to ignore the simple fact that there is no accrediting body for editors, so no editor can call themselves a professional!!! The problem is that all editors and literary agents delude themselves into believing that they are a cut above the very people who guarantee them employment – the humble writer, be they in one of the big five ‘stables’ or as in my case, a successful self published mid list author. How arrogant, let alone ungrateful, can a person be? Without us they would not make money! Here’s a question for you, how many editors and literary agents do you know who have produced a best selling novel of their own? I can’t think of one, can you?

Before you start, no I’m not being arrogant. I’m merely stating the facts. When it comes to professionalism, most writers who enjoy regular sales of their books can be considered to be professionals. Not that any of us do. At best we consider ourselves to be ‘seasoned’.

In the case of the editors, just because they attended a university somewhere, gaining a lowly BA in English Literature, they automatically assume that they now know far more about story telling and structure than the writer. Could it be that they are envious of the writer’s natural bent for story telling perhaps?

Without naming names, the chief editor and owner of the small press I made the mistake of signing up to several years ago, before I finally saw sense and parted company with him, is still a senior executive in a well known american computer company. Like most editors, he considers himself to be a professional. He is a ten a penny company executive. The one thing he defiitely is not, nor can he ever claim to be, is a professional editor!!!

Is it any wonder that so many hard working writers have had enough of the arrogance and the snobbery endemic within the establishment, choosing to leave the traditional publishing world to become an independent self- publisher?

I think not…

Writers, Believe in Yourselves – Stand On Your Own Two Feet

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A comment on my blog post yesterday about obsessive writers, editing and layout errors got me thinking. The commentator said she had used the services of one of the thousands of Vanity Press publishers out there, waiting for the next sucker to fleece. She found out that after publication the end product had spelling errors. Despite them reassuring her that it would be taken care of, it wasn’t. Why do people still fall for the unmitigated BS that all Vanity Press continue to spew out I wonder? If you want my advice, don’t go there.

Sad to say but in the independent editing fraternity, there are some individuals only too willing to relieve you of your hard earned money, often leaving you with a shoddy product.

Far to many ‘wet behind the ears’ new writers these days think that they should pass their manuscript on to an expert. So they simply find the independent editor whose financial package suits their budget and hope for the best, assuming that he or she is qualified, and from your point of view as a new writer – unbiased. Remember this; even if your editor is the best available, he or she is just another human being, not a machine. Therefore the way they edit your work will be coloured by their own opinions about how your manuscript should read. They’re not infallible. If you let them have their way exclusively, chances are you won’t recognise the end product. Remember this also, not all independent editors out there are what they profess to be by any stretch of the imagination. Buyer beware!

Believe me when I say that the best editor for you is one you know personally, and more importantly, the editor who believes in you.

Even so, why not do what I have done and learn how to lay out a page. Then learn how to edit as well as grammar and spell check using your dictionary and thesaurus, not forgetting how to punctuate as well as publishing your work for yourselves. And while you’re at it, learn how to produce a cover. All of the above isn’t that difficult to master. Like most things in life it just takes application and perseverance on your part, and time to learn.

Even if you have parted with a considerable amount of money to have your manuscript edited, plus having it set up for publication and paying for the best possible cover, there is still no guarantee that your book will sell. So why shell out money you can ill afford when you are just starting out. It makes absolutely no sense at all.

There is one other consideration that you should take into account; before you even begin to show a profit, first you have to sell enough copies of your book to recoup your initial outlay. Whereas if you do it all yourselves, the only cost to you is your time. In other words you are in profit right from the start with that first sale.

All I’m asking you to do is think about it before you make a move…

Obsessive Writers

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It has to be said. A proportion of today’s self-published writers, those who churn out six or a dozen books each year, have to be suffering from some form of desperate obsession. What other explanation can there be for their compulsive need to flood the market with poorly written books? Perhaps they honestly believe that they will gain a large readership, in which case they are deluding themselves? Who can say? If only they were OCD sufferers. Then at least their books would be well written, and would clearly show their need for order and detail.

Normal well adjusted writers, which is the vast majority of us, may publish one book each year, or perhaps every two years. We gain our faithful readership by producing well written books with a strong story, not by doing things the way the obsessive writer does.

Oh yeh clever dick – what about spelling mistakes in self-published books then? I am always finding them.

Not that old chestnut again!!!

Once again, just for you. Yes its true that spelling errors are held up by armchair critics as a reason why you should not buy a self-published book. But even mainstream produced books are hardly error free. I’m sorry to burst your bubble here, but I have news for you. There is no such thing as a perfect book. There isn’t one that doesn’t have the odd spelling error. The writer of the book you are reading cannot be held responsible for a copy or line editor missing the odd one or two. All he or she can do is hand over a manuscript as error free as is possible to his/her editor. Once the editor has placed it in the hands of a publisher, it is largely out of the writer’s control.

When it comes to works originally published as paperbacks or hard covers, in a lot of cases when they are converted by mainstream publishers to gain a foothold in the eBook market, they often contain larger than normal gaps between words as well as gaps between the letters making up a word, rendering them unreadable. This practice of churning out a cheap and nasty product, does nothing to enhance an author’s reputation. Sadly it is becoming more prevalent as the major publishing houses look to the growing eBook market.

As writers, once we have a story in our heads, its true that we do become obsessed up to a point with getting it onto paper and/or our computer screens. But in general that is as far as our brush with obsession goes. We don’t overly concern ourselves with whether or not it will become the next best seller, unlike the obsessive writers appear to do. What the next best seller will prove to be is in the lap of the gods. There is nothing any writer, publisher, agent or editor can do to influence that, no matter how hard they may try.

Irrespective of which format is used, the mark of a good book is whether or not it is still being bought several years after it was published. Four of my six are. How about you?

 

 

Progress Report 3. A Change of Direction

Well, I have decided to take a change in direction for the Gilbert Briggs novel. The way I was going about it just didn’t feel right. If I’d kept on in the same old vain, I would have wound up with nothing more than a series of formulaic individual short stories. Boring!

So at 2am this morning I decided that Gilbert and his team at the UK Advanced Science Institute need just one target to travel to via their Teleportation Gate after Gilbert tests it out by travelling back in time to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, not ten or twenty separate ones.

I was reminded of an incident in my eBook  The Forgotten Age  set beneath the Giza plateau, where the hero Nick Palmer and his team came across one particularly curious dead individual. The fact that he had not decayed like the mummified Egyptian corpses Nick came across, plus that his clothing was not ancient Egyptian but from somewhere else in the Mediterranean basin, left you the reader wondering about him. He looked as if he had just decided to take a nap. That and the fact that at one point his expression changed unseen by Nick and co…

In the book I hinted at where he could have come from. So his homeland will be Gilbert’s ultimate target. If you want to know where Nick Palmer suspects he came from, you will just have to click on the highlighted link above, buy yourselves a copy and find out. I’m not about to tell you here. If any of you have already read The Forgotten Age, please don’t spoil it for others by letting on. That means you Storyreading Ape!!!

More later…  😉