Criticism versus Reviews

source-criticism-in-the-media

What any writer dreads the most are attacks by members of the public, often with an axe to grind…

In days gone by every writer knew that the only individuals who offered opinions about their work were journalists working for leading newspapers, in the guise of literary critics. Back then they encapsulated the essence of a new work of fiction in one line of carefully chosen words taken from the text in question. Never once did their newspaper’s editor allow them to speak harshly against a given work. Instead, they chose to beguile future readers with the use of a single sentence from the book in question as an enticement like the following:

“A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

~~~

Sadly those days are no more. Today, every reader has the freedom to criticise by writing whatever they believe is a review, knowing that they can get away with blue murder, then posting it on book sites such as Amazon. Most are not true reviews at all. Instead what you will see are endless examples of critiques, or far worse! The vast majority believe it is their god given right to tear apart any and every book, in particular ebooks by both traditional and indie authors.

It isn’t! All you are doing is showing your ignorance to the world at large. Some, not all, make it their business to harangue the author of the work they have just written about. A small number will insist that they could have made a far better job of writing the story!

To all of them I ask this – how many of them have ever written anything longer than their own signature I wonder? Have any of them ever had a book published? How would they feel if the boot was on the other foot? Would they feel outraged about the product of all their hard work being considered rubbish by hateful individuals? These people who go on the offensive are too cowardly to use their own name, preferring instead to remain anonymous by hiding behind a pseudonym.

😉

Are Amazon’s published authors being shafted?

capture

From their published author’s point of view the answer has to be yes!!!

While the realists among our ranks (myself included) know we will never gain fame and fortune despite our best efforts, when you become a published author you would be forgiven for thinking that once your book(s) has been accepted and published that you are entitled to receive royalties for each copy of your book sold.

That used to be the case with Amazon until they decided to change the rules to save themselves having to honour their side of the agreement in favour of the far cheaper alternative from their point of view – Kindle Edition Normalized Pages!

While the idea of being able to read as many books as you can each month for very little outlay (Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited) may appeal to the avid reader, do any of them for one moment bother to ask themselves whether or not the authors of those books are being provided with royalties for each copy of their book(s) sold by Amazon? I seriously doubt it!

While its true that we do receive a pittance in the form of a few cents for every page read, we do not receive royalties for books sold under the Kindle Unlimited program! In essence what we are subjected to thanks to our books being advertised in Kindle Unlimited is nothing short of blatant exploitation by Amazon!

While we all reluctantly give away a few free copies while promoting a work, regarding it as a necessary evil, what Amazon is doing is outrageous! In essence they deliberately abandoned paying royalties to each author in favour of KU and their cheap skate pay per page read scheme. Did it increase the number of copies bought? No! Nor does the giving away of hundreds of copies in a free promotion, despite what some pro Amazon pundits may say!

As a published author I will never ever obtain a copy of anyone’s book using KU. To do so would be to deprive my fellow published authors of the monetary acknowledgement for their literary endeavours – in other words, their royalty payment. As readers I strongly urge you to consider doing the right thing as well. Buy your copy!

I know there are many tight-fisted individuals who would argue that by getting books using KU they save money, and that in effect they are buying their copy.They could not be more in error if they tried! So the next time you chose a book to read consider paying for it.

DO NOT HIT THE BIG YELLOW ‘READ FOR £0.00’ BUTTON!!!

Before you ask – yes I do have some free copies of ebooks. In total they number less than eight, each one sent to me by their author as a complimentary copy…

😦

Always be careful on social media…

slider_beware_of_scammers

A couple of days ago someone pretending to be the well known American movie star Scarlett Johansson who I consider to be an absolute stunner, befriended me on Facebook. The alarm bells should have immediately sounded. But for a few minutes they didn’t, because I was still half asleep and I admit that I was initially flattered, not to say puzzled. Although why a beautiful young woman like Scarlett who doesn’t know me from Adam should want to send a friend request to a man in his sixty-ninth year bothered me?

Within a half hour all became clear. I was dealing with a money scammer hiding behind Scarlett’s full married name. I kept them talking for a while before giving them a piece of my mind in the form of a few choice words – mainly expletives! What was the reaction? They disappeared like a rat up a drain pipe.

It turns out that at least two of my male friends of a similar age, one two months older than me, the other a few years younger were also targeted by exactly the same scammer. Fortunately for them, unlike stupid me, they were both wide awake and didn’t rise to the bait.

scarlett_johansson_girl_actress_view_11117_300x360

The real Scarlett

I know, I know – there is no fool like an old fool. But I can dream can’t I?

PS – it’s not just scammers that are on the hunt on Facebook. For instance, don’t take sponsored adverts at face value. Currently there is one appearing with the English actor Ian McShane’s picture on it about his death. DO NOT CLICK ON IT LIKE I DID. MY LAPTOP LOCKED UP AND A PHISHING PROGRAM DISGUISED AS A WINDOWS ALERT BEGAN TRYING TO COLLECT ALL OF MY COMPUTER’S PASSWORDS ETC. FORTUNATELY I KNEW HOW TO STOP IT. MANY DON’T..

😉

 

Pseudo-experts and other lunatics

quote-4-open-mind

As a published writer, sooner or later you will encounter one or more of the following!

~~~

Once you have published a book or books, it is inevitable that you will attract the attention of individuals with a doctorate in incomprehensibly stupid! When Amazon opened the can of worms by giving everyone and their dog the privilege of being able to offer their opinion on your work on their sites worldwide, was the day the age of the internet troll and other non-entities was born.

Today, not only Indie writers, but also traditionally published ones find themselves on the receiving end of what can only be described as pseudo-expertise. For the latter its bad enough that their editors are imposing their often misguided personal opinions on how a book should be written, often to the detriment of the story, instead of sticking to correcting grammar and punctuation. But now all writers are endlessly being bombarded by totally baffling comments by some other published writers, who quite frankly should know better than to openly criticise someone elses work in public. What you and they have to realise is that they are expert in only one thing – destroying their own reputation just for the sake of pouring scorn on a colleagues work. Not everyone can write a story worthy of being read, let alone be published. Which is why so many who entertained the idea of fame and fortune by writing the definitive novel of the age fail and soon resurface as literary experts and critics. Or worse, offer their services as editors, always for a fee of course!!!

What none are willing to accept is that first of all your story is yours not theirs. Secondly, who better than you knows its ins and outs, plot and counter plot?

If you are lucky, people find it among the millions of books on offer and read it. Some will like it. Others not, so they do their damnedest to convince the public to stay away, which begs the question why? In the case of failed writers, it has to be that their green with envy. Or more than likely, they’re angry that they didn’t come up with it first. What other reason(s) could there possibly be?

What about the literary snobs, pedants, anal retentives, pretentious poseurs, grammar nazis and other self-important armchair critics who inhabit the internet these days? If you will take some advice from an old campaigner – LIKE THE TROLLS, IGNORE THEM ALL LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Having read this, you will now know that I have zero tolerance for any of the above. Guess what, neither have any of my published writing colleagues either…

Happy New Year.

😉

An unfinished story

full_1632962-1100x614

If you read yesterday’s post, you will know I mentioned where on occasion I never finished a story for various reasons. Here is an example:

Retaking London

Adolf Hitler’s dream of a united Europe ruled over by Germany finally came true in the guise of the European Union and its stranglehold on the countries under its banner. A massive seed change occurred when two decades after its formation, in no time at all, the EU decreed that the common man cost too much to maintain.

Billions were instantly thrown out of work. Daily, the numbers of people starving to death grew. Wars sprung up across the world, stirred up by the EU to keep its enemies divided.

Meantime it ensured that its own private army threw a military cordon around each of the new city states, formerly the capitals of the countries who had joined the EU, as impregnable walls were rapidly erected by slave labourers behind endless minefields, sown in land now devoid of all life, to keep out the common man. Once the walls were finally constructed, the labourers were executed by firing squad. George Orwell’s frightening scenario in his dystopian novel 1984 had become reality.

Food production and manufacturing moved to the Far East where massive farms and factories controlled by the highly paid mercenary army of the EU, using expendable forced labour from among the local indigenous populations, worked to death to create all that is necessary to maintain the lifestyle of the EU city-state elite.

Former provincial cities across Europe were forcibly abandoned and then levelled, leaving nowhere for the starving billions to live. Each new city-state behind its impregnable wall, built massive airports for cargo planes transporting food for each of them from the far eastern factories. Beyond the walls surrounding each of them, lay fields of death sown with landmines.

The one thing that the EU could not concieve of was a fight back by pockets of determined men and women.

~~~

Here in England campfires dot the Chiltern Hills, mirroring similar makeshift campsites elsewhere across the entire European continent. In the distance the glow from London lights up the night sky. Everywhere the whimpering cries of the sick and starving fill the air in all campsites.

Four men, Hassan, Dmitri, Rodrigo and Michael sat talking together on an old log, illuminated by the flames of their fire. “So, we begin tonight,” Dmitri declared as he stirred the embers. His companions all nodded in agreement. Michael and Hassan had recently returned after an exploratory mission north in search of food and medicines. What they found lit the fires of hopeful rebellion among their comrades.

In an abandoned factory complex in the former manufacturing heart of the British Isles, the Midlands, they found forgotten supplies of chemicals. In another location they came across a herd of over a thousand pigs, which initially were earmarked for food. But when Hassan came up with his idea they became what he hoped would be the second ingredient needed for their plan to retake London.

Before the madness from Brussels had set in, Hassan held the chair in medieval history at Southampton University. Rodrigo and Dmitri, before arriving illegally in the UK hidden in one of the last eighteen wheeler trucks to cross the English Channel from Calais by ferry, both worked as miners in their respective home countries. Michael formerly worked as a laboratory technician at the defence research facility at Porton Down. Six weeks after the forcible eviction of the majority of London’s population, Hassan and Michael met on the exodus towards the Chiltern Hills.

For man to survive the EU had to be defeated, fortified city-state by fortified city-state. If they were successful in retaking London, word would quickly spread to other groups across the whole of the Continent.

Hassan soon became all too aware from talking with those excluded from London that no military presence extended beyond the wall’s limits in any shape or form other than the fields of landmines. Nor where the walls manned with observation points. The city was seen as impregnable by its inhabitants.

A germ of an idea began to form in Hassan’s mind as he and Michael talked about how to retake Britain’s capital. Now that they had teamed up with Dmitri and Rodrigo, they had the nucleus of an army of determined fighters.

While scavenging teams were employed to find food and uncontaminated water for all, Michael began assembling and training sabotage teams. Meanwhile Rodrigo and Dmitri organised scouting units tasked with searching out potential weaknesses in London’s perimeter wall. Eventually two were found.

At London’s former westernmost point on the outskirts of what had once been Heathrow Airport, close to where the suburb of Hounslow once stood, lay a disused railway track linked to the old London Underground network. A few miles away, the totally unguarded fresh water reservoirs south of Staines were still linked to London’s water supply via underground pipe lines.

Rodrigo and Dmitri explored along the entire length of the now disused line to where it descended below ground level. London’s perimeter wall was built two miles away beyond the underground entrance. The railway line allowed them access to explore at their leasure, entirely unobserved. As they slowly walked along the tunnel, their path was eventually impeded by the wall’s foundations blocking the way forward.

In the meantime Hassan organised teams to pinpoint which rivers lead into London’s former Central Business District where the rich now lived, cocooned from everything beyond the wall.

Michael began work manufacturing waterborne chemical weapons, ably assisted by volunteers consisting of former high street pharmacists and chemistry teachers. Rodrigo and Dmitri trained vast armies of willing volunteers in mining techniques. As more and more weaknesses were found, teams of miners began work, chipping away at the wall’s foundations beneath ground level.

Under Michael’s leadership work also began on all water supply pipes leading into London. At the junction of each pipe a chemical cocktail would be triggered by an explosive clockwork mechanism, releasing it into London’s water supply in a progressive sequence when required.

Rodrigo and Dmitri employed the tried and tested ancient medieval technique of undermining, using piled up wood and the slain pigs to break through the wall’s foundations that blocked off the old underground railway system directly beneath London’s CBD in several places, creating volcano like temperatures to melt the mix of concrete, reinforced steel, brick and stone used in the wall’s construction, enabling Michael to employ his latest batch of chemical weapons in the heart of London’s water storage system. In a stealthy operation worthy of any covert military attack force, Michael and his two assistants stole quietly along the now disused underground railway system, heading towards the old Canary Wharf underground station.

~~~

And that’s as far as I got with this one before I abandoned it. At the time my heart wasn’t in it. Dystopia really isn’t my thing. Too depressing for my liking. Will I finish it? Maybe one day. Maybe not…

😉

Stuff is just stuff…

packing-service-cleburne-texas

Bearing in mind that since the late nineteen-fifties I’ve moved from the Northern to the Southern Hemispheres and back four times so far, I’ve learnt how not to become attached to stuff. Especially the kind you can always replace at your new destination.

~~~

Unlike myself, most people aspire to owning their own homes raising a family and acquiring life’s bric-a-brac along the way. Look in most garages, garden sheds and in the loft and you will be confronted with a pyromaniacs dream. Unwanted sofas, that sneaked photo of prim and proper aunt Maud when she wasn’t looking, showing her Edwardian style knickers tucked into the back of her cotton summer dress at the beach, failed do-it-yourself projects, dust laden cobwebs, wasp or hornet nests, pieces of string and dozens of labelled boxes, all sharing the same space as wiring, exposed here or there thanks to mice gnawing on the insulation, plumbing, rusty broken gardening tools, broken bicycles that needed to be fixed or thrown away twenty years ago, and that absolutely indispensable pile of spares from your first motorcar before you were married, long since disposed of at the scrap yard. We all do it, we’re loath to give or throw away anything either for its sentimental value, or simply because it may be needed again in the future.

Yeh right, pull the other one. It’s got bells on it!

When you move house – many do so at least eight times in their lifetime, instead of being merciless by throwing the stored lifetimes detritus into a skip or getting rid of it at a junk shop or car boot sale, we take it with us to our next abode. Why hang on to the stuff? I’ll tell you why, because of familiarity and fond memories! Childhood memories of happier days, family holidays, ideas that were brilliant at the time, embarrassing gifts given by friends and family for birthdays and Christmas, and impulse buying, all contribute to the obligatory pile of junk that doubles the weight of your home on the fragile surface of our planet.

Each time you move you tell yourself that you’re going to have a good clearout and what happens, you end up having heated arguments over what can be classed as junk and what can’t. In the end to preserve your marriage and your sanity, the whole shooting match winds up in the moving truck stacked around your precious items, on its way to its new home.

Why put yourself through all that agony? What possible good can come from shifting rubbish and a potential fire hazard from one house to another?

Go on, be brave. Pick up that pair of brightly coloured, lovingly hand knitted bed socks of differing sizes from grandma, and throw them away! There that didn’t hurt too much did it? I’m watching you, don’t you dare try and retrieve them out of the garbage bag, put them back at once!

Of course if you really want to stand out from the crowd you can always do what I’ve always done and leave half of what you own behind each time you move on, but then again I’m much braver than you are. When I move, I don’t move to another part of the county or country, I move to another country entirely!

Now I wonder where I put my nineteen-seventies voice activated tape recorder; I saw it five years ago. Ah there it is, in that box marked ‘might come in handy someday’…

😉

The post that started me blogging back in the day

stephen-hawking-aliens-breakthrough-starshot

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.