The post that started me blogging back in the day

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Have We Had Help?

 You have to begin to wonder just how much fact there is among the vast amount of disinformation, fantasy, and accounts of sightings of alien life forms in this day and age. Thanks to the paranoia mainly created by the hidden agendas of various governmental groups in countries like the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as the former ‘Iron Curtain’ countries, it becomes increasingly more difficult to sift out the truth.

Have you ever stopped to think how quickly we have advanced since the turn of the twentieth century? It wasn’t all that long ago, we were reliant on the horse and cart, candles, and sailing ships; the list is endless. Since the end of the Second World War, we have experienced a technological leap beyond the normal rate of progress for mankind.

Over the past 25,000 years, man has slowly but surely advanced towards a state of civilisation and self-worth in keeping with man’s ability to learn by trial and error, enabling us to find out what works best in any given situation. And yet since the late nineteen forties, we have advanced beyond belief in all areas of technology. We now have the ability to leave this beautiful planet of ours, to extend our natural lifespan via various means, and to create weapons of mass destruction. Are you willing to accept this accelerated advancement without questioning just how it is we have achieved so much?

The most implausible explanation can be made plausible if it is uttered from the mouth of someone in authority. I simply do not, and will not, believe that we have made such rapid advances on our own. For this to happen, someone must have given us a hand in all this, but at what price for mankind. Since nineteen forty-seven, people around the world have reported various phenomena, alien to our way of life. The various branches of the news media have tended to trivialise most of the reports by categorising them as ‘flying saucers’ or ‘little green men’ ably encouraged by governmental agencies who frankly scare the hell out of me! While a lot of phenomena witnessed by people from all walks of life, all racial groups, all political persuasions, and all religious beliefs, can be satisfactorily explained away, there are a growing number that cannot!

As we move away from beginning of the new millennium, just how many of the prophecies in books like the ‘Old Testament’ for example are going to be fulfilled. While it must be remembered that the people who originally wrote the basic text of religious books like the Old Testament were by today’s standards considered primitive, and had a far less sophisticated use of words, they never the less give us a rudimentary history of their times. If they are to be believed, then they/we have never been alone, they were helped by people not from this planet. Are we now experiencing the same kind of assistance, are we being advanced? If so to what end and why?

Throughout the history of mankind, we have had our failures and successes. We have learned, and at times unlearned, as in the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ which were anything but dark. We have seemingly done this on our own, at our own pace. But now we seem to be aboard a runaway train, from which we cannot get off. Why are we experiencing such rapid advancement in technology, medicine, and at what cost?

Why is it that mankind seemingly advanced from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon in a relatively short space of time? To transform from an almost apelike creature to a life form, which could pass you in the street without drawing attention, seems remarkable to say the least! And yet it happened. Why, if the historians are correct, were there relatively advanced groups of humans in control in days gone by, like the ancient Egyptians who bear no physical or racial resemblance to the people they ruled over? Where did they spring from? Where do they fit in? Why do ancient peoples like the Maya speak of pale blond gods who set the pattern for their lives for centuries before the first white men arrived on the South American continent?

Why does a man miraculously arrive on the scene in ancient Judea via ‘virgin birth’, perform miracles, change man’s way of thinking, get crucified, get buried then completely disappear? Why does that same man according to legend then appear a few months later in northern Japan and supposedly live to a ripe old age in anonymity?

If we are being helped once more by non-humans, then it is incumbent on the governments of the more powerful nations to come clean. If however, as many believe, we are paying a price in human lives for technological advances beyond our present capabilities to fully appreciate, let alone invent for ourselves, then the price is far too high! Whether you believe, as I do, that we are not the only sentient form of life in the universe or not, the fact is that some outside influence is at work, and has been for the better part of sixty years or more! We are kidding ourselves if we believe otherwise.

If, as a growing number of people believe, and I number myself in this group, we are being ‘helped’, what are the government agencies afraid of? Why don’t they admit to non-terrestrial beings living and working alongside us? If they have a hidden agenda for mankind as some sort of subservient species designed to be a slave group, or worse, as a food source, then we must be told the truth! If there is nothing to hide, then where’s the harm in admitting the existence of the various groups of non-terrestrials? If they are benevolent or not then please say so and don’t keep us in the dark anymore!

Being kept in the dark is far worse than knowing the truth. At least if we know the truth then we can prepare ourselves one way or another for what is to come. By not telling the people of this beautiful planet what is going on, the governmental agencies are preparing the way for mass hysteria if the non-terrestrials are going to do anything harmful. After all, we receive warnings for things like volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and tidal waves that enable us to take steps to protect ourselves.

If, however the non-terrestrials are so advanced that there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves against whatever they may have in store for us then we must be told now!

On the other hand if there are no non-terrestrials, as the governmental agencies would have us believe, and the secrecy surrounding the brilliant leap in technology in the last sixty odd years is solely down to mankind, I say show us incontrovertible proof! Throw open the doors of places like ‘Area 51” to groups of responsible human beings from various nations around the world who can once and for all put an end to all the speculation and rumour surrounding such places. If it’s good enough to send teams of people to inspect various situations around the world like Iraq’s so-called armament factories, or the former Yugoslavian countries various hell-holes, then its good enough for agencies like the United Nations to send similar groups to places like ‘Area 51’, and the so-called underground bases like ‘Dulce’. We’re not asking the various military groups to publicly expose their military hardware. All we want to know is whether or not it’s all our own work!

If it’s not then why not say so! Bring the non-terrestrials out in the open for the entire world to see. Let them address the world via the UN; let them tell us their intentions towards mankind once and for all! If it’s their intention to somehow or other assimilate us then we have the right to know! If however they are here merely to help us advance from a warlike race to a peaceful one, then let them say so!

By neither confirming or denying what is going on, the governmental agencies are reinforcing the commonly held belief by people not only in the US, but around the world, that they have a hidden agenda regarding aliens. Are we approaching Armageddon as prophesied in the Old Testament, or are we experiencing an unprecedented time of accelerated technological advancement?

The questions raised in this article can only be answered if we all demand to know the truth once and for all. The time has come when we can no longer remain complacent! Whether you believe in the existence of alien life forms or not, there is enough happening around the world as we enter the  new millennium, for even the most sceptical among us to begin to wonder what is really going on.

 

Two Milestones Reached Within Days Of Each Other

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My blog first appeared on Google Blogger before I moved it here a couple of years later. It was the best move I could have possibly made. From then on people began to take notice of my blog.

It’s hard to believe, but it has finally reached a major milestone as far as I’m concerned. Today’s post is its 2000th! And now to top it off, it has reached yet another yesterday when it passed 500 followers.

While this may not mean much to a lot of people, it means the world to me. My sincere thanks go out to each and every one of its five hundred and one followers. I hope you continue to enjoy its posts for many years to come…

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😀

It’s confession time – well almost

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To all of you who have yet to retire, take it from me when I say I thoroughly recommend it.

All of my adult life I worked for someone else. Who benefited the most from the relationship? In each case they did. Before you start, yes I know I should consider myself fortunate to have been in constant employment, receiving a weekly wage from my sixteenth until my fifty-fifth year, when I was eventually considered too old for the  labour market, winding up on the scrap heap back in 2003, along with millions of others.

By the bye, I don’t envy anyone looking for full-time employment in these days of below minimum wage zero hours work contracts…

Despite being bitter at the time, eventually I looked upon it as the best thing that happened to me, even though the next ten years were tough financially when I was left with no choice but to rely on the dole. I’d been paying into Social Security all my life. So I had no problem with getting some of my contributions back. I’ve never understood the sniffy attitude of some people who think it’s somehow shameful to accept a helping hand when we need it, especially when part of everyone’s wages are set aside for that specific purpose.

Do I miss not being in the working force? Hell no! To an independant (some might say rebellious) spirit like myself, having to spend eight to twelve hours a day from Monday to Friday or even seven days a week, endlessly doing the same damned thing day in, day out, not forgetting to always expect the boss to bitch about something or other, was anathema to me.

Since I officially reached retirement age a couple of years ago, I no longer have to rely on the dole. Nowadays I get my State pension, something else I contributed to all of my working life. Compared with what I use to earn, it’s a mere pittance. But I can live on it – just. To hear the way some politicians rave on, you would be forgiven for thinking that retirees like myself are a burden on society. Complete poppycock! All of our lives we worked hard. We’re entitled to take it easy. It still rankles with me that I had to wait until my sixty-fifth year to finally achieve my goal of complete independance from the day to day drudgery that everyone old enough to work has to endure for decades.

Nowadays I’m no longer bored stupid working for someone else. I get up when I want, go to bed when I want and do what I want when I want – well almost. As a lot of you will already know, I now have a new boss. It’s called The Written Word. Compared to my former employers it leaves them in it’s dust when it comes to making demands on my time. Being its willing slave occupies ninety-nine percent of my time, writing novellas and novels. The remaining one percent is divided between enjoying life, eating, sleeping and blogging. Oh, I almost forgot to add that I’m also a long time video gamer. So as you can see there is an awful lot to squeeze into the remaining one percent of my time.

Regarding my blog – which is this one by the way, (I thought I’d point that out for those among us who are known to be a bit slow on the uptake), as of today I just need one more blog follower to finally reach four hundred.

I started blogging back in February 2010 on Google’s Blogger. How many people got to read my ramblings meant nothing at the time. Way back then, the whole concept of a blog was totally alien to me. The fact that my then publisher warned against doing it, was a good enough reason to go ahead from my point of view. If anyone like him is stupid enought to start dictating what I should and should not do, I’ll do the opposite every time!

It wasn’t until I deserted Blogger for the good ship WordPress that my posts began to be read, and as a consequence the number of people who wanted to follow/read what I had to say has slowly but surely increased. At the time of writing this, the number of people following my blog stands at three hundred and ninety-nine. Once I reach four hundred, its all ahead full for the next port – five hundred.

One last thing, I would very much like to thank all of you who follow my blog. Without you it would simply fade into obscurity.

Thanks once again

PS – I went to bed at eight o’clock last night, It’s now 01.38. The content of this post woke me at midnight LOL

❤ xxx

I’ll try anything once, or in this case – twice

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Like most people, I’ll try anything once. Talking with Chris, the storyreading ape a few days back, he enthused as only he can, (bless his heart) when I asked him about why he uses hashtags on so many of his blog posts. So, following his advice I decided to try it for myself. According to him they are totally necessary when your blog posts appear on sites like Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin, to induce people to read them – and here was me thinking it was the post’s title and content.

Well, I have used them twice now. Not just in conjunction with the three aforementioned sites, but also on Facebook, Pinterest and Stumbleupon. In each case I saw no appreciable increase in views. In fact they remained exactly the same as always.

So why do people bother with the hashtag symbol for number (#), using it in a way that was never intended in the first place? If the whole idea is to make your posts known to a wider audience, by adding hashtags in front of key words, why is it that they simply don’t appear to do the job?

There is a lot of advice on how to use them, such as this from Twitter. Despite following their advice as well as from Chris, nothing happened, advantageous or otherwise.

One thing I did note in Twitter’s case, they quite clearly state in their extremely helpful ‘how to’ page that the hashtag comes into its own when used with tweets that are trending, such as breaking news items, or those featuring the latest antics of a celebrity, airhead, moron – idiot. If that’s the case what chance do ninety-nine point nine percent of most bloggers have with getting their posts noticed by using hashtags?

The phrase – not a cat in hell’s chance, immediately springs to mind.

Like I said in the beginning, I’ll try anything once. Will I continue using the humble hashtag in this particular way? I don’t think so. I’ll just use it as it was originally intended, to indicate a number. Perhaps when someone scientifically proves that using it increases views for posts in the way Chris and some others believe, I may reconsider. But until then, as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out. In the meantime I’ll go back to relying on the hashtag free content of my blog posts to sell themselves on their own merits to everyone out there in internet land.

Sorry #Chris. I did give it a try – #honest I did.

# 😉

Which is more important to you?

Think back to when you were a child opening your Christmas or Birthday presents. What mattered to you the most? Was it the packaging, or was it the content? If your preference was for the packaging, you need some serious one to one time with a psychiatrist!!!

Click to buy from Fishpond

As a typical example of packaging, the above cover for Matthew Wright’s – The New Zealand Wars – A Brief History, could hardly be said to be attractive to the eye. What sells the book to students of New Zealand’s history is its content and Wright’s reputation as a serious writer, not what the cover looks like.

I don’t know how many times I have to say it – forever it seems, but far too many of today’s writers become totally obsessed with relying on the literary equivalent of packaging, believing that somehow or other it will sell their book on its own, or at the very least make their book stand out from the crowd. Many times I see examples of an author desperate to bring their book(s) to the attention of potential readers, either by changing the cover or the title, or both. If the book failed to sell in the first place, no combination of fancy cover and title, original or new, will ever help.

I tried it once, never again. In my own case when my fantasy anthology wasn’t selling, I altered the title from Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales for Adults to Goblin Tales. It still failed to sell even though the original version had received seventeen five star reviews like the following:-

“While I read this book, I must have thought at least a dozen or more times to myself, “This should be made into a movie.” The storyline is perfect for it. Magical characters. Battles of good vs evil. It has everything it would take to make another Lord of the Rings. I would see it in the movies and then buy the DVD.” 

So you see, you are not alone. Even mid-listers like myself have our failures from time to time.

In light of this example and others, it appears that once again I need to restate what really matters when it comes to any book is not the packaging, but the book’s content. Unless your book holds a reader’s attention, it matters little that you have found a title that not too many others have also used, (bearing in mind that there is no such thing as an original title these days) which you think will appeal, and spent your hard earned money on having a cover created.

I can just hear book cover illustrators hackles rising at this point as they read this, but the simple fact is this; no matter how good a cover and title may be, unless the book’s content is up to scratch, you’re book will never sell!

If you are pinning your hopes on gaining regular readers by your book’s titles and covers, I would argue that you are deluding yourselves. While catchy titles and pretty pictures may appeal to some, mainly those who occasionally read something other than gutter press newspapers and glossy magazines for airheads, written by airheads, neither a book’s title nor its cover picture will sell your book to serious bibliophiles.

They couldn’t care less either about the cover, or the title. What the book contains within its pages is what interests them. That is what you should be concentrating all your efforts on. Its worth spending all of your time getting that right first. Any book wholly reliant on its title and cover to attract sales, is nothing more than mutton dressed as lamb; currently there are millions of examples on offer. The only time most of these shift any meaningful numbers is when their authors offer them for free, or as an online promotion on social media sites.

Is that the fate you had in mind for your book?

It is a fact that for a book to sell more than five copies, first of all it must be well written. In most cases it needs to be fast moving. It must have a good plot as well as a concise, well written ‘hook’ to even begin to pique the genuine bibliophile’s curiosity.

Everywhere you look on the internet these days, there are writer’s sites and blogs telling you that unless you have an appealing cover and title, your book will soon disappear from the public gaze. While that may be the case for most new writers, the reverse is true if you are a mid-lister. My own book sales back up what I’m saying.

Yes, that first book you published probably did need a cover and title to make it stand out from the rest at the time it was published. But once you have published several books, and by definition gained a loyal readership, they couldn’t care less about the cover and title. What matters to them is that you have built yourself a reputation for telling stories they enjoy. Consequently they look forward to reading your latest.

I would further argue that if you want to attract even more readers, get yourself a blog like this one. Don’t just constantly advertise your books on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Twitter as many hopefuls do. Instead, regularly contribute to your blog about anything which interests you, giving your potential readers an insight into how you feel about all kinds of topics. As for advertising your books, do what I’ve done, add the links to the sites where they can find your books on your blog’s ‘About’ page.

What people really want to know about is you. By letting them glimpse your life through your blog posts, it helps them to realise that you are just another human being like them. As a sub-species of humanity, writers are not unapproachable. Instead we’re constantly thinking about and writing our current WIP, and blog posts like this one.

When it comes to your latest Work In Progress, why not do what I do. Produce ‘Progress Reports’ concerning it on your blog from time to time. By the time it is finally published, and always providing that your blog followers are anticipating reading it, in effect what you have done by providing those ‘Progress Reports’ is a bit of pre-publication advertising. My good friend, and fellow author, Robert Bauval, does exactly the same thing as I do, in his case on his webpage – http://robertbauval.co.uk/books.html with links to his blog and his books. As a consequence our readers are chomping at the bit, continually asking us when our latest book will be available for purchase.

Remember this as well – endless advertising of your books on any social media site is guaranteed to put off potential readers. It looks like just another case of sheer desperation on the part of the book’s author…

😉

Of Pie Charts And Other Things

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There is always a very real danger when producing anything related to a specific subject, in particular when presenting facts, that unless you offer a true representation of the said subject you are offering an opinion on, as in the blog post linked below, which states that only a few genres are doing well with one reader group – children, that you will be seen at best to have offered an incomplete view.

Recently I followed the link provided by Chris The Storyreading Ape’s blog to this post published on the blog Taipei Writer’s Group – https://taipeiwritersgroup.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/books-sold-by-genre-or-why-you-should-write-childrens-books/

While it is clearly headed ‘Books sold by genre, or why you should write children’s books’, it can never be considered to be a true representation of all book genres’ sales to children when so few genres are included. In this particular case I suspect that the author of the post has either created, or imported, Pie Charts to suit their purpose. At the time of reading it, I left a comment on both Chris’ site and TWG’s – “Why isn’t Science Fiction featured?” So far TWG have failed to respond to my pertinent question. In Chris’ case all he could say was that he had merely reblogged their post. Like me, he had no clue why sci-fi did not appear in the breakdown of books for children.

To TWG, I merely say this – be fair. Don’t think I am making a mountain out of a Mole hill, far from it. Nor am I suggesting for one minute that you are wrong. But like most sci-fi writers, all I want is an honest reason why you decided to leave out our genre, let alone infer that today’s kids don’t like reading sci-fi based stories, when you and I both know that isn’t the case. Thanks to popular science fiction television series like Dr Who, sales of sci-fi specifically written for children is doing fine thank you very much. You would have known that TWG, if you had bothered to do your homework.

One other thing for anyone contemplating producing a post like the aforementioned, purporting to show the ‘facts’, make sure that you are doing just that, not merely using certain facts to support your argument.

To use a quote, attributed to the sixteenth American President, Abraham Lincoln – “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”. Those of us who make our living within the literary world are not fools TWG. We are all fully aware of what sells to varying age groups and in what quantities. Being selective about the facts to suit your personal or collective point of view is never a good idea. If, on the other hand, your blog post was published to cause debate, you have succeeded. Although probably not in the way you envisioned…

😉

Why I Believe In Interacting With My Followers, Even If Some Of Them Don’t Bother To Reciprocate

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The public perception of a writer

Following on from yesterday’s blog post https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-guardian-another-progress-report/ a few thoughts occurred.

First of all, while a mere thirty-nine of the eight hundred and ninety-six people who currently follow my blog ‘liked’ the post, even though according to my blog’s stats only twenty four actually read it, five responded, three by reblogging. Why people merely click ‘like’ without reading a post totally baffles me. But there you go – it happens not only here on my blog but on most Social Media sites, in most cases out of pure habit. Don’t think for one moment that I’m not grateful for the fact that you ‘liked’ my post – I am. But if you are going to ‘like’ any post on any Social Media site, whether its a blog like this one or Facebook etal, at least read it first, otherwise how will you know that you actually like it or not?

Now for the real reason for this blog post. What one person said when she commented got me thinking. She began by saying, “Nifty how you’re taking potential readers on your writing journey.” To which I replied, “I can’t think of a better way for all writers to destroy the illusion that we writers somehow aren’t like everyone else can you? Plus, by posting the Progress Reports, hopefully by the time the book comes out, at least it will ensure that a few people want to buy and read it.” This morning I found another comment from her. Here is what she said in reply to my reply, “Yes, I see that. An interesting adventure for all interested.”

I cannot believe for one minute that I am the only writer out there who considers it his duty to share his or her next story’s journey not only with his or her blog’s followers, but also with his or her readers, both old and new. In my case I like to do it by giving all of you a glimpse into the ‘mechanics’ of writing. My thought processes. How I solve a problem while writing. Even how I come up with my characters.

Unfortunately there is a popular misconception among the vast majority that by definition writers are somehow aloof, distant if you will. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we do tend to be loners, locking ourselves away in our metaphoric garrets, devoting every waking hour to our latest work in progress. To be a successful writer, unfortunately it goes with the territory. But we’re still human beings just like you. We all do the same things you do, or at least we do when we have some spare time.

Just remember this, interaction works two ways. So the next time you click ‘like’, take the time to actually read the post you have just liked. Plus be brave, place a comment below it. I promise you we don’t bite.

😉 😉 😉