The Number One Problem Facing Authors Today

I fully expect to be taken to task by certain individuals in our line of business for what I’m about to say. I’m too long in the tooth to give a damn!


Have you noticed recently how from the first moment your latest work of fiction appears for sale, how certain individuals want to become indispensable to you? I’m talking about book promoters, in particular those who will promise you the earth in return for a fee. Most if not all of them want to ride on your coat tales, rather than produce a book themselves. As to whether or not you believe them to be genuine, I leave entirely up to you. Most are pushy to the point where I will never respond to their demands, except to shun them!

Take my latest effort The Forgotten People as an example. To date I’ve been subjected to several offers of ‘help’ selling my novella, mostly from individuals domiciled in India. This afternoon I recieved several requests to communicate via Facebook’s ‘Chat’ facility from more of them. So long as they keep requesting, I’ll keep on denying them!

I’ve got a thing about leeches, since encountering the real thing in the jungle north of Saigon, back in the nineteen sixties, where the only way I had to rid myself of them was to burn them using a lighted cigarette. In my book, anyone who wants to benefit financially from the product of my hard work, other than myself, should be regarded as the human version of the bloodsucking parasitic worm pictured above!


The Classic and the Contemporary II

The Classic and the Contemporary II

More from Justin…

The Champagne Epicurean

Fatima, Jordan Casteel, 2018

Is it possible to be a successful, mainstream artist in the 21st century without being socially engaged? Has art moved on from being a source of pleasure and become an act of social engagement? Is this a good thing?

These are some of the thoughts that came to my mind when I came across the works of up-and-coming American artist Jordan Casteel. She paints mostly in oils and she depicts people of colour, mostly family, friends and residents in Harlem, and is an artist who paints works full of “empathy and love.”

            In this painting, Fatima, as there are in several of her paintings, there is a simulacrum, even an homage to the leisurely paintings of the impressionists, Matisse especially. The painting is bright, colourful, pleasing to look at, it is also a bit of a souvenir painting, depicting the street life…

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My Smart-meter and I

Woman At Home Boiling Kettle For Hot Drink With Smart Energy Meter In Foreground

At last I have my Smart-meter. It’s taken three attempts on my behalf to get Scottish and Southern Electric to come to the aid of the party. Why, because according to them it might be several months before they could send someone to install the thing, citing the fact that they had to prioritise what they termed ‘vulnerable’ people. When I demanded to know what they meant by vulnerable they informed me that any elderly person with a medical condition qualifies. Guess what folks – I’m seventy-three and a long term cancer sufferer! I had them over a barrel! Last wednesday my new smart-meter and its slave unit, similar to the one pictured above, (which if the womans’ kettle was actually turned on as claimed in the advert, would not be registering zero),was installed. Score one for the old boy!!!

The next day the meter had a tantrum. It stopped functioning as it should. So I rang the helpline to ask if they could send someone to fix the problem. Despite the fact that the man I spoke to had such a broad Scots accent as to make him almost unintelligible, I managed to deduce that it is common for these latest meters to shut down on the day they were installed. But, once their internal clock tells them its one second past midnight, they automatically hard start themselves. When I woke on Friday morning everything was back to normal. Now I know how much money I’m spending down to the penny. More importantly so do Scottish and Southern Electric. Lets see them try sending me a guestimated electricity bill from now on!!! I almost forgot – they refunded my bank account £30 as an apology for mucking me around for so long!!!

PS – while talking to the installer he told me that the spread of smart-meters is slow, because a significant percentage of the population think that smart-meters are a tool of the authorities, designed to eavesdrop on us. How utterly pathetic is that?

The Cost Of Love

Love – a tricky subject…


He loved her but it didn’t show:gave her protection from a distance and  understanding without a sense of intimacy. Just some guy in a cubicle crunching numbers through the working day: it wasn’t climbing Everest but it paid the bills.

“Hey Bill” she’d call, asking for advice, given, always, without a comment. Some years before, and in another place, he had been king of the track and a man of influence but that was then. Now wheel- chair bound after some horrific accident he kept his glories to himself, and ambitions in his memory. The evenings were never short: unfilled hours, stacked upon themselves, brought no relief from his reflective solitude.

Pride is the last refuge of the unfortunate; spectators of the happy story, a background presence on the road to glory. He loved her but it wouldn’t show.

Now the day had come. Her smiling lit-up face telling everyone…

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The Reviews So Far

Chris Graham

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 March 2021

Verified Purchase

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 March 2021


Mark Schultz5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing premise Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2021Verified Purchase I really enjoyed this story, it hit many of my buttons. No spoilers from me, but every page was a pleasure to read. Excellent scene setting, reasonable action and good dialogue run throughout the story. I award “The Forgotten People” a score of 4.6 stars, the score would have been higher except for the handful of spelling errors I found.


The errors Mark spoke of were in the original edition, which I withdrew. Version two is clean.

Keep them coming…


A lesson to my detractors

There is an old saying that is a trueism – Never judge a book by its cover!

Over the five days of the giveaway of my latest novella The Forgotten People, several individuals voiced their opinion on it, even though they hadn’t read it. I’m talking about those who believe they know what, according to them, sells a book – the cover, not the contents!

Nothing could be further from the truth! What actually sells a book is positive reviews from people who not only read it, but also give it glowing reviews.

There are a few who firmly believe that a book’s success is solely down to its cover. What utter hogwash!!! The other day on a book group in Facebook, I was castigated by one such person, who stated that they wouldn’t contemplate even availing themselves of the opportunity I gave them to get a free copy. Why? Because they didn’t like the cover. When I replied to their illogical response, suggesting they seriously need to think again, they immediately continued to attack my novella by saying that in their ‘professional opinion’ as a book cover designer I was catering for young to middle age men. Once again – what a load of codswallop!!! Funny how certain clueless individuals claim to be professionals when challenged, don’t you think?

No one can get away from the fact that in the end, the story is what sells, not the cover, or how much money some spend on advertising! Regarding advertising, the internet is awash with individuals only to willing to take your money, promising that they will sell your book to hundreds of thousands of people looking for a book to read. Lately many of them hail from India. Always be on your guard with anyone wanting to be paid for anything to do with your book, particularly these days…

PS – Take a close look at the pic above. The Forgotten people reached fifth in Alternative History here in the UK


Well it appears that WordPress’ inhouse gremlins have buggered things up for my blog! Once again the reblog/share buttons have vanished without even saying goodbye. Before anyone says check ‘Sharing’ in ‘Settings’ – I already have! While all the actions show that my buttons have been activated – they haven’t. Simply put – thanks to WordPress’ obsession with change, once again they have deprived me of being able to share blog posts with others as well as outside sites like Twitter and Facebook!!!!!!!

For god’s sake WordPress – get your damned act together! Why the obsession with constant meddling with a system that worked until you let your inhouse gremlins loose???

I Don’t Suffer Fools Easily!

In this post I deal with every Indie Writer’s worst nightmare – the terminally thick!!! As the title says I don’t suffer fools easily!

I’ve just had an encounter with an individual on FB, complaining about the fact that according to him the female on the cover of The Forgotten People is naked, which she isn’t? Yes she is scantily clad in a revealing item of clothing. But naked – definitely not! I replied – “So what!” To which he came back demanding to know what a ‘naked’ woman has to do with ‘Forgotten People’? At this point I was seriously contemplating telling the thick individual where to get off! Instead I bit my tongue and suggested he take advantage of the five day giveaway. Get himself a copy, and read the novella for himself, if he wanted answers. I really had to hold myself in check to ensure I didn’t swear at him.

Unfortunately at some time or other, most if not all, Indie writers produce a book that attracts idiot’s and other assorted loonies like moths to the flame! It appears that The Forgotten People is one such book. if he is anything to go by…

Which brings me to a question. Why is it that people seek free copies of e-books? Particularly when every author knows that out of a thousand copies taken for free, none will ever be read, let alone reviewed! What do you do with your free copies? You can’t tear out the pages to use as toilet paper. So why collect them if you have no intention of reading them???

Those of us who write exclusively for the e-book market are no different from our fellow writers in the Traditional Publishing world, with two exceptions.

No:1 – we’re not on a retainer.

No:2 – thanks to your tightfistedness, we hardly if ever receive the royalties we so richly deserve! If anything we work longer hours, not to mention harder than our Trad brothers and sisters for what amounts to peanuts! So why should we be deprived of the odd 70% royalty because you don’t want to pay the purchase price? In short we shouldn’t. So think on the next time you are about to get yourselves a free copy of any e-book on offer…

PS – Ever noticed how people ‘like’ a book advert on both Facebook and Twitter, but don’t get themselves a copy to read, in particular when its offered for free, as my latest is right now?

BTW – the lady on the cover is Ileni, one of the principal characters!

More later,


There is always a bright side……

More from one of the sweetest ladies I know – Stefi xx


Pastiera Napoletana

White, green, yellow, orange, dark orange, almost red-orange… red. Red is the colour of Easter in Italy this year. In the whirl of colours which determine what it is possible to do and what it is not during these vacations, the colour red has been drawn by lot: red = maximum restrictions possible. Allow me a little bit of  sarcasm, as, actually, here we don’t understand any longer upon what ground colours are decided and for sure it is not the number of infected or Rt or whatever more to determine it.  Just to understand, with more than 20.000 infected per day, 500 dead, we were orange yesterday, but red a week ago with the same figures and we will go back to orange next Wednesday to allow schools to reopen. One thing more, when schools were first closed at the end of October last year, there was…

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Writers Beware!

This is for all self-published writers, both new and old. I recently uploaded a corrected version of the text for my latest novella The Forgotten People to the original I had added and published on the 17th of March this year. Brilliant, I can now expect it to be posted to my books page on Amazon. Right? Wrong!

After communicating with the people at KDP, I realised that it was a case of wasted effort on my part. Why? Because they do not ‘update’ text on any book you’ve already published on KDP. Why not I hear you cry? Why not indeed! While they acknowledged that they could see I had done as I said when they took a look for themselves, it soon became blindingly obvious that while they are there to answer queries, that’s as far as they will go!

Instead, first you have to unpublish the original. Next, once more add the book, its cover and text etc, with ‘version 2’ also added for good measure. Then after all that, click ‘Publish’ once again, and wait for it to go live.

Once it is live, go to the ‘Author Central page’ on your Amazon Book page and ‘add’ it to your collection, as I did before writing this post on Thursday last. Then I had to wait until Amazon finally get round to doing their part by adding it to my book list, before it is seen by the book reading public. This can, and does, take several hours! Regarding my book appearing on my book pages, in this instance were the first to do so, taking three hours to complete the task. Unfortunately here in the British Isles,’s woeful response meant it lagged behind, taking eleven hours…

What a rigmarole? Thank god I don’t often update a book’s content! Remember – KDP don’t help, they only ever provide us the writers with the tool to self-publish our work. As always, we do all the work – not them.

Learn from my first-hand experience. It’s in your interest to do so.

PS – By the way. If you would like to get yourselves a free copy of The Forgotten People, you have from today Saturday the 3rd, until Wednesday the 7th of this month to obtain it from the Amazon site of your choosing…

Good reading,