Totally Irrational Thinking

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The one thing that every writer, whether traditional or Indie, whose books are published in e-book form have in common, particularly in non American markets like here in the land of the literary curmudgeon where the printed book is still preferred, is the vehement prejudice against the relatively new publishing format we choose to use. Because they hate the idea of the e-book, they are missing out on so many great tales. Whether they like it or not, the e-book is the next evolution in the history of publishing.

As far as they are concerned, if they can’t hold a book in their hands and physically turn the pages, from their completely illogical point of view the electronic file is not a proper book.

What utter bilge!

I wonder if any of them realise how totally irrational they sound? Whether they like it or not the e-book is here to stay.

Before the first seed change in publishing occurred when the printing press was introduced to the UK in the fifteenth century by William Caxton, the only way itinerant storytellers could pass on their stories was by word by mouth. What the printing press did was to collect their stories in one place, the printed book, for everyone that could read and write, long after the stories would have disappeared when the storyteller eventually died.

Despite the gate keepers, today’s storytellers can be published in a format available to literally everyone who owns a smart phone, laptop, desktop, tablet or a purpose-built ereader such as the Kindle. What the traditionalist stick in the mud’s simply fail to understand is that they are a rapidly diminishing minority.

From the point of view of today’s publishers, it makes good financial sense to publish in e-book form rather than paper. This is a second seed change in publishing that is slowly being accepted by all five major publishing houses. From their point of view, if an e-book doesn’t sell they haven’t lost much financially, unlike remaindering, where to sell the printed copies in stock they have to offer them at a much cheaper price. Either that or pulp thousands of them after taking a financial gamble on what they thought would be the next best seller.

If the publishing houses fully adopt the e-book, it would not surprise me in the least if they cease incentive payments in the form of a financial advance to writers they are considering signing up in the future. Every publishing house is driven by the fact that to remain solvent, above all else they must make a profit. If they spend a lot of money on their stable of writers, they need to recoup it for every book they publish before they show a profit and can afford to pay out royalties. That simply does not occur with an e-book…

A thought just occurred. Maybe the reason why curmudgeons hate the e-book so much is because they cannot bend the ereader back on its spine like a paperback, nor fold the top corner of a page over to act as a book mark. What do you think, am I right??

 😉

Why do all author interviews fail miseraby?

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In my view, because they tell you absolutely nothing about the author. Read one and you’ve read them all…

I’ve read literally hundreds of them over the decades. Without exception they follow an inevitable mind numbingly boring formulae.  I’m sorry, but the last thing I wish to know about is an author’s favourite book, or where they live and with whom. Or even what their latest book is all about and other entirely banal questions!!!

What I really want to know is how their mind works. Don’t you?

To begin to gain an insight into what makes any author tick, all you have to do is read their books for yourself. It couldn’t be simpler! Do that and there is no need for the totally redundant author interview.

Each and every single one of us reveals far more about ourselves in our storytelling than any damned interview ever will. You just have to have the intelligence to sift out the often unconsciously inserted clues which we leave about ourselves by the way we write the text. Believe it or not but actually reading our blog posts (not just liking them) will also help you to get to know something about us you never knew before as well.

Only a publicity seeker (you know the beast – those who refer to themselves as Author Bill or Belinda Smith across the entire social media system) will ever delude themselves into thinking that by having taken part in an author interview, that somehow or other, by osmosis their book sales will automatically increase. What total bunkum – they won’t!

Book sales still only occur after someone has actually bought and read your work, and told their friends about it. Granted, these days they may have been initially attracted to it by its often lurid cover and quite possibly, its range of good and bad reviews.

If you are a fellow writer, take my tip, get on with your writing and forget about participating in any interview until the questions on offer show a far higher degree of intelligence. As far as I can ascertain, the day when interviewers pluck up the courage to dare to break the mold and ask truly pertinent questions of their interviewees, is the day when hell will finally freeze over!

PS – As you will have gathered I have little time for time wasting foolishness in its many forms. Something else you’ve just learnt about me. 🙂

Oh what might have been…

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…or how I was ripped off by a small press publisher!

Back in 2003 while I was briefly back in New Zealand, I stayed with my best friend Graeme Norgren and his family. Each day while they were both at work, I decided to write a sequel to the first book I ever wrote back in 1995 – Turning Point. And so the two-part space opera Onet’s Tale was born. Here are some of it’s reviews:

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Imagine slaving in a mine on a distant planet, where each swing of your pick throws poisonous dust into the air that will kill you in a few months time from breathing it. This is where “Onet’s Tale” opens, but it doesn’t stay there long. This epic sci-fi tale from Jack Eason includes a large cast of characters from various planets, including the human/nephile Akhen and Khan, who is a Drana. Once enemies, the two band together to escape the mine and start a rebellion that eventually leads to a war that spans years and galaxies.

The story itself is narrated by Onet, who happens to be a Khaz. Think little gray alien guy that might land in Area 51. Except Onet is albino and has red eyes. He’s watching all this unfold, waiting for his chance to stop the evil that his own kind started, which spread through a goddess-type being called Shu, and continued through her horrible creations of berserker warriors.

Murder, war, and mayhem reign throughout this book, while the main characters try very hard to live normal lives. Their efforts are always ripped out from under them, and I sympathized with the tortuous events they lived through. On the other hand, I kept wishing for more character depth. I’m really partial to character-driven novels, and this one seems mostly plot-driven. For me, I would have liked to have been inside the characters’ heads more, really feeling what they feel.

If you like sci-fi packed with battles, futuristic weapons and modes of transport, you’ll like “Onet’s Tale”.

 

Format: Paperback

To say that this epic saga / odyssey contained in just one book is breathtaking in its scope would be an understatement! It could easily have been done in two parts, which, combined with a previous book, would have made a fine Trilogy.

Beginning 800 years after the events of the authors earlier book, ‘Turning Point’, the story starts with an ancient Dranaa escape pod arriving in the Dranaa Empire territorial space.

The reader soon discovers that even after 800 years, descendants of the victorious human/nephile survivors of the battles with the Dranaa on Earth, are still engaged in war with the Dranaa – and things are not going too well for them.

Although labelled as Science Fiction, the story also contains some Conan the Barbarian / Xena the Warrior Princess type characters whose technology / evolution is so advanced it seems like they have magical powers.

For those who like Action, there are battles aplenty, in space and hand to hand. Did I enjoy it? Emphatically Yes!

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Wow! Hang on tight for a roller coaster ride. This novel moves at such a fast pace it’s like you’re on one of the spaceships. There is so much in it, it could easily have been expanded to three trilogies! The story line is great, and the characters good though lacking a bit in definition. As always in these types of stories I find it hard to remember who everyone is from the unusual names. Where there is detail, it is fantastic, but I would have liked a lot lot more.

A New Journey on June 29, 2010
Onet’s tale truly takes you into a new journey of adventure new characters and keeps you wanting to read more and more. I recommend this novel to any Sci-Fi reader who enjoys good story telling and wants to get lost in new worlds and exploration. The Author did an amazing job in creating a new adventure for all of us to enjoy.
”A triumph of modern science fiction. A wonderful story of Fantasy anchored by Science”.
This is the first work by Jack Eason to be published and yet this book has the feel of a seasoned Author. The consideration and detail in which Onet’s tale is written never allows the reader to wonder about anything for too long. Every plot twist, each character and every action they take is just one small brush stroke of a much larger painting. All actions have consequences and all consequences are vital to the story. The web of intrigue, spun so subtly by the Author, unravels with each turn of the page. The bigger picture only begins to come into focus when all the other pieces are in place.
I find it very difficult to say exactly what Onet’s Tale is about, because it isn’t solely about one thing. The story has many leading characters and many different reasons why each would be where they are and why they are a part of the story. I could condense the entire story to just a few words..”A tale about the struggle for survival against all odds”..but this doesn’t do it justice.
The battle for survival isn’t confined to just one person, nor even to an entire species. It encompasses all life in both this world and in many others that wish to live without fear and oppression. A species that come from further away than most can imagine are hell bent on the complete annihilation of all others, forsaking none. The ensuing struggle spans the face of our galaxy and the lives of each and every living being within it.
The fate of future history is in the hands of a reluctant few. Out numbered and out gunned, the battle begins.
This is grand tale. The tone is that of a storyteller recounting the past. There are a host of characters caught up in intrigue, action and a fascinating story that spans worlds. A struggle against all odds in an epic battle for survival. An excellent read.

~~~

Once I had returned here to the UK at the end of 2003, my personal circumstances took a turn for the worse when I had a complete mental breakdown, resulting in me sleeping rough on the streets for a few months. After getting the psychological help I needed, I was eventually placed in a homeless hostel in Lowestoft, nine miles to the east of where I now live in my home town of Beccles in the English county of Suffolk.

It was to be seven years of searching and constantly being turned down before I eventually found a publisher.

Thereby hangs a tale. The small publisher I dealt with is a one man band, who fancies he is an editor. Had he been any damned good, he should have paid me the royalties I was due for each copy sold, both ebook and paperback.Had he done that I’d still be with him. In reality he is, or was, a senior executive for a large American computer company. Like many in our game who set themselves up as a small press owner, after failing as a writer, he is on an ego trip. Note I say ‘is’ because his company is still going….

My good friend and fellow writer Derek Haines knew and warned me about him. But in my still fragile mental state, I was desperate for Onet to be published and signed the contract. It was the worst decision I ever made!

I won’t go into any further details, except to say that after putting up with being constantly dictated to by a martinet, we eventually parted company. To be rid of him once and for all, as part of the deal to leave I foolishly agreed that Onet’s Tale be immediately withdrawn from the market. Judging by the above reviews, chances are it might have been a best seller. But back then my fragile sanity came first!

The problem was that in his capacity as my then editor he always insisted he knew best. Going against my express wishes he added a ‘curriculum vitae’ of all the characters for both parts of the space opera. It was as if he considered the readers could not possibly work out who is who for goodness sake.

Then to add insult to injury, on the e-book version he added his and his former business partner’s names as co-authors. That was the last straw as far as I was concerned!

So a hard lesson was learned. Never allow any editor to dictate to you or control your story, especially a wannabe!

😉

Depression – my lifelong companion

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We all have acquaintances. A mere handful of them can maybe be considered as friends. As for the rest they are what I refer to as ‘fair-weather’ friends, people who while professing genuine friendship towards you, cannot be relied on to sense that all you really need is a shoulder to cry on and a real hug from time to time, two of the things a life long depressive like myself constantly craves, together with actually sitting down talking to people, face to face.

Apart from a brief eighteen month period back in the middle sixties, I have always lived alone. The fact that my mother and father never showed any recognisable sign of love towards each other or me come to that, probably has a lot to do with it.

Not once while they were alive did I ever see them so much as hold hands. Nor kiss or a hug each other. It was as if being demonstrative towards one another was somehow a crime, something I still fail to understood to this day. Take it from me, when you grow up without love as I have you crave the love and companionship of another human being on a daily basis.

Is it any wonder that as I get older, I write to keep myself from giving up on life itself? Not that I’m brave enough. If you will pardon the bad pun, the dead giveaway for all of you would be if you saw no more daily posts from me, here on my blog.

I’m sorry if this post is a bit disjointed. I really hope I snap out of this mood soon. From past experience I know it normally takes a few weeks before I begin to perk up…

😦

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Something for you all to think about

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Have you ever thought about what makes the author of any work of fiction you’ve ever read, actually tick? No, well don’t you think maybe its long past time that you did?

Without exception, when you read anything written by a fiction writer, unlike non-fiction books created by those of an intellectual bent who rely solely on facts and scientific theories, what sets our work apart from them is the way we make use of life’s experiences and our vivid imaginations.

Take my novella – Céleste as an example. Apart from the smattering of facts and human legends I used in the story, in one specific passage I drew on a particularly painful memory from my early childhood, while throughout the rest of the story I used other personal experiences.

One in particular immediately springs to mind, when I wrote about the relationship between Céleste and the human she loves – David. I remembered when I fell in love back in the nineteen sixties with Mai, the most beautiful and gentle soul I have ever met in my entire lifetime, who became my wife and the mother of our son. I experienced total heart break eighteeen months later when they were both cruelly taken from me by friendly fire. As a result I have suffered several breakdowns over the intervening years, which is the reason why I live alone today, too frightened to get close to anyone ever again. It may sound foolish I know, but its a very real fear to me…

So there you have it. Now go and buy your copy of Céleste to gain an even better understanding of the way my mind works.

😉

I tell you, it’s a wonder I’m still here

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It’s hard to believe that I was born on this day, sixty-seven years ago. With everything that life has thrown at me since that day way back in nineteen forty-eight, it’s a wonder I’m still alive to tell the following tale.

***

When I was about ten months old, I had my first encounter with danger. Fortunately for me, when they realised I was missing from my pram, my parents searched the garden and eventually found me hanging in midair above the cold dark waters of the garden pond. All that was between me and death was a bit of barbed wire which had dug itself into the fleshy pad directly below my left thumb. Dad had put the wire up once I started crawling. Maybe that episode accounts for my later adventurous nature – who knows? I’ve still got the arrowhead shaped scar on my left hand. Mum said I wasn’t crying. Apparently I was just hanging there with not a care in the world.

 1_12_05_14_1_18_00 Then when I was five I was almost drowned yet again when a large Pike dug its teeth into one of my legs and began trying to drag me into deep water, when I was collecting frogspawn in the shallows of another pond on the farm to put in a jam jar. Fortunately I had mum’s small garden fork with me. I forget why. It was a long time ago. But it’s a good job I had taken it with me. Repeatedly stabbing the monster fish with it, made it let go of my leg. Those future tadpoles were hard won I can tell you.

In the nineteen-sixties came military service during the Vietnam war, where I was badly wounded, not once but twice.The next thing that hit me between the eyes was when I lost my beautiful Mai and our four month old son John, when the suburb where we lived in northern Saigon, was wiped off the face of the Earth, thanks to friendly fire, while I was up country on patrol.

A few years later came the first of three mental break downs, followed by being thrown on the employment scrapheap when I was fifty-five, and as a result, being made homeless; meaning I was forced to sleep rough for several months. As if all of that wasn’t enough I also suffer from skin cancer, a legacy of living beneath the hole in the ozone layer in the southern hemisphere for forty-two years. Its a wonder I’m still here, and yet I am.

Given all of that, is it any wonder I resorted to my first love, books, to console myself, which led me to write my own and much later, to blog? The written word has become everything to me, no matter whether or not my books are read. Fortunately for me they are.

As for why I’m still here – I’m a stubborn cuss. I’ve had to be. Anyone with a weaker disposition would have given up the ghost years ago. Not me. Now all I have to do is survive the next three years to reach my seventieth birthday.

Child’s play

😀

Beware – Idiotic Marketing Ideas Are Here!

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A Typical English High Street

Yesterday morning I took delivery of an electric air-pump, which I need to inflate my new airbed. Now all I’m waiting for are those highly idiotic ‘please rate the product’ emails from Amazon UK. While they will expect me to rave on like a two bob watch about both products, I think on this occasion I’ll refrain. Hell’s teeth, we’re only talking about a blow up mattress and an electric air-pump, nothing special.

I hate to tell you this Amazon, but we’re a nation that still likes shopping in small family run businesses in our high streets where you get friendly courteous service. Yes there is a place for large concerns like yours where we can buy almost anything we care to name. Undoutedly the prices will be cheaper than any high street shop, but what we don’t need is all the hype and BS that goes with buying anything from you.

There is another thing which has crept in from across the pond, the sheer lunacy of sales days like Black Friday where total idiots with money to burn literally battle with one another, often violently, over products, and Cyber Monday when the emphasis is on equally insane online buying of those self same products.

I honestly don’t know how any of you feel about sales days like these, but when US based companies think that what works back home, will not only become accepted practice, but also be welcomed with open arms by the vast majority of the population of other lands, I’m sorry Amazon etal, but while the young may see nothing wrong with American sales tactics being employed more and more these days, the older generations, which is by far the majority here in the UK, usually steer well clear, preferring the peace and quiet of small shops.

Why an airbed? Two reasons. First of all because as a pensioner on a low income I can’t afford to buy a new soft mattress, necessary for a comfortable night’s sleep. Secondly, my back and other places, one of which I sit on, is now covered in various types of skin cancer, a legacy of spending forty-two years exposed to direct UV radiation from the Sun within the hole in the ozone layer down south in New Zealand. As for the ones on my back, which despite being benign are never the less painful, especially if I lay on my back at some point during the night, the doctors will only treat them if I submit to the knife once more. Or allow them to use focused radiation to fix the problem.

Will I let them near me ever again? Hell no. My previous experience with the local mob of medical specialists, was to say the least, far worse than putting up with the damned cancers. And another thing, it was radiation that caused the problem in the first place. I don’t need the side effects of any other form of radiation to add to my woes, thank you very much. Some people’s bodies are covered in freckles. In my case its skin cancer.

Rant almost over. What do I really think about rating anything? What do you think?

Bah Humbug!

PS – I can honestly say that I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years last night, even if the airbed tended to crackle when I turned over, and I sank into it. Why on Earth didn’t I buy one much earlier? LOL

😉

The Curse Of The Writer Strikes Yet Again!!!

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Valles Marinaris aka the Great Rift on Mars

Damn it to hell and back! The curse of the writer has struck once more. A couple of weeks ago, another pure science fiction story announced itself from the farthest reaches of my mind. I swore black and blue that when I published my adventure novella Cataclysm in November, that I would not contemplate another story until next year. So much for good intentions. My mind is already working overtime once again.

When an idea invades a writer’s consciousness, what can he or she do about it but go with the flow, or be driven crazy. We all have our various ways of tackling the problem. Yes, you heard me right, I did say problem. Because until a writer has exorcised the beast from his or her mind, they will know no peace. So what I have to do is get writing, reading and researching immediately, but not necessarily in that order. It’s the only way I know to solve the problem when confronted with a potential new story that just grows and grows in my mind.

The naive, and those gormless individuals who are always saying, “I could write a better book than that!” may believe writing is a walk in the park. It isn’t. Very soon they learn it is nothing but hard work, blood, sweat and tears. If you are at all serious about our craft, to survive, first of all you have to live with the twin beasts of inspiration and obsession, then the inevitable sleepless nights and hundreds of long hours spent typing.

It looks like I’ll be outlining various plot ideas throughout Christmas, the New Year and on into 2015. What it will be about as yet is undecided. But I already know where it will occur – Mars.

In the past I’ve used the Cydonia region of the red planet, the location of the so-called Mars Face in two of my previous science fiction novels. Not this time. I fancy delving down into the depths of the Valles Marinaris rift (see picture above). At 2,500 miles long, 120 miles wide and up to 23,000 ft deep, it offers plenty of scope for misadventure or adventure, intrigue, possibly even disaster. Who knows? At the moment anything and everything is a possibility. For now, no matter how vague a thought may be, none will be instantly dismissed out of hand, at least until I’ve tried it out for size.

As for the time period, my initial thoughts were to forget about setting it in this the twenty-first century, given how most within the current space exploration fraternity seem to be stuck on using rocket power, and building the vehicle here on Earth, instead of in space where size and shape don’t matter – see my blog post https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/why-reinvent-the-wheel/.

The chances are that because of their blinkered thinking it will be another century before man finally sets foot on the arid surface of Mars in any numbers. So I think I’ll be setting it in the twenty-second century, mainly to give Institutions like NASA a chance to catch up with my way of thinking. Either that or I may have to invent a propulsion system that they haven’t even thought of, in which case I can relent and set it in this century LOL.  😉

Whatever the case may be, it’s early days yet. Now that I know where and when, the next thing is to come up with the how, why and what, not forgetting a mix of characters. I know it all sounds extremely vague at the moment, but that’s the way a story is born. Ask any writer, they will tell you much the same thing. Vague notions, ideas, call them what you will, are the starting point. If it looks like it might pan out (once I written four or five thousand words), then and only then will I begin to get serious about it. It’s been a few years since I wrote a pure science fiction tale. I’m looking forward to it.

You have to remember one tiny point here. At the moment this is the way I’m thinking. But nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to what a writer does, says or thinks. But then again, I’ve always been a sucker for pure science fiction. It’s all Arthur C. Clark’s fault, and my father, for giving me one of Arthur’s books to read when I was eleven. As a consequence, scifi has always been my first love when it comes to literature.

If this new story doesn’t work out – c’est la vie…

😀

We are a nation trapped in the nineteen fifties

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For a nation that deludes itself into believing it is still a world leader, the greater majority of my fellow brits (those over fifty) still suffer from a nineteen fifties mindset.

A few nights back while watching the BBC news on television I listened to a reporter talking about the inevitable buying frenzy for Christmas. He was interviewing a senior representative of a well known online retailer asking him how his company’s sales compared to those of the high street. When he was informed that they far outshine high street sales, especially at Christmas, the reporter was completely taken aback.

Like so many adults here in the United Kingdom, quite obviously, he still hasn’t embraced online shopping. He and everyone his age, and older, still like to spend money travelling into town, wandering endlessly around, browsing the shops for that must have Christmas present. What he and every other member of the older generations fail to fully appreciate is that by shopping online you are not only saving time and shoe leather, but also a lot of your hard earned money.

How much does it cost you to get from A to B in this country? Either you walk, something most would never do these days except to go to their corner shop, or you use public transport which means waiting for an hour before the next crowded bus or train arrives, or you travel into town using your car like millions of others, adding to the inevitable traffic jams, not to mention the shortening of tempers (road rage), as well as wasting time and petrol to find somewhere to park.

With the exception of walking, even before you have found that Christmas present, it’s already cost you money. How much did you pay for your car, as well as to maintain it each year? Petrol prices are no longer cheap. Neither is vehicle insurance, or the necessary, often expensive, MOT checks to make your car roadworthy. Plus, never forget that you must also add the inevitable carpark charges to the equation.

Most of my fellow brits, with the exception of the young, still persist in doing all of the above, whereas if they fully embraced the humble computer and did all of their shopping online as I do, the only expenditure for them, apart from purchasing the item, would be time. Add to that the fact that you don’t have to shoulder your way past countless others in any retail outlet you care to mention (think department stores), and you know I’m making total sense.

Until the entire population of the United Kingdom fully embraces the computer age, sadly I can’t see things changing. It doesn’t help matters when the older generation still treat the humble computer as nothing more than a device for communicating with friends and loved ones around the world. When talking online to the wife of an old friend recently about where she could find all of my books, she said, “we never buy anything online,” as if to do so would be a betrayal of her high street shops.

While I strongly suspect that most men reading this will agree with me, their better halves will take the side of my friend’s wife.

More fool them, even though having read this, they know that what I’m saying here makes financial sense. Yes ladies it might be nice to gaze through shop windows at that new pair of shoes. But on behalf of my gender, I beg you not to let nostalgia and outmoded habits rule the way you shop. Buying online is definitely the way forward.

These days, owning a computer is not a status symbol to impress your friends and neighbours, it is a valuable tool. For god’s sake make use of it! If at almost seventy-two I can fully embrace the twenty-first century and its technology, so can you…

😉