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A Time for Change

Two major things happened to me this week.

The first thing was that I published my second book, ‘You Lose Some You Win One’, the sequel to ‘Have a Nice Weekend’. Three years after the first one was published, so not exactly quick, but still, I’ve done it.

Now I just need to get the third (and probably final) book in the series written. And finish the other three that I have started but not finished. Not to mention the short stories that are also half-written.

But I might not have seen the results of this achievement if the chest pains I had yesterday had resulted in the heart attack that I was probably overdue to have. Luckily, they were just pains, and after some tests and a few sprays of something under my tongue, I was sent home having been told that I hadn’t had a heart attack. I’m seeing my GP later. Maybe he’ll be able to say what actually happened.

Anyway, I am not telling you this for any sympathy, nor am I seeking attention. The point of this blog is to say I will be changing my diet, and as I discover or invent healthy versions of some of my favourite dishes, I will put the recipes up here. I am at least two stone (28 lbs) overweight. With a wife and daughter who are virtually vegans (they will eat eggs, but no dairy), moving to a low fat diet shouldn’t be hard, but I will still want some of my favourite foods, in a healthy form, otherwise I am likely to fall off the wagon and go back to my bad old ways.

So, for anyone who is interested, look out for some new recipes. 

But before that, I will be posting excerpts from the new book as well. I say excerpts, more likely whole chapters.

If you would like to buy it, on the other hand, the Amazon links are as follows:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Lose-Some-Win-One-ebook/dp/B00KGHSYUU/ref=la_B005QZPGXK_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400758835&sr=1-2 

http://www.amazon.com/You-Lose-Some-Win-One-ebook/dp/B00KGHSYUU/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_d_1 

 

 

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It’s All About Finding Time

I started a new job in January, and now, instead of a half-hour drive I have over an hour’s train journey. In total I am out of the house for thirteen hours a day. By the time I’ve had dinner I get around an hour and a half relaxation time before my eyelids finally win the battle, and I crawl off to bed, ready for the 5.15 alarm.

Why am I telling you this? Not so you’ll feel sorry for me, or to make you think I have some important, high-powered job. It’s just to explain why I haven’t done anything on this blog for around six months. I haven’t done any writing either. The only time I have to write is at the weekends, but that pre-supposes that I won’t have other things to do. 

Maybe as the summer comes I’ll feel a little more inclined to do some writing in the evenings. I hope so. But in the meantime, I’m going to post an occasional short story, including a few 100 word stories that I wrote a few years ago. They’re not very good, but they are a useful exercise for any writer. 

In the meantime, Have a Nice Weekend

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This is the Modern World

I don’t often publish extracts from my work, especially if the book hasn’t been published yet, but in the week that Apple launch yet another version of their phone, this seemed appropriate.

 

Thankfully, the bus didn’t take long to arrive, and he even managed to get a seat, next to an old lady.

“Had a busy day?”

Oh my God, she wants to talk.

“Yes, very,” he lied. It had been a typical Friday: pretend to be working up until lunchtime, take two hours for lunch, then spend the afternoon, in this case, discussing picnics in Richmond Park.

“How about you?” He really didn’t want to engage in conversation, but she reminded him a little of his grandmother. Not much, but a little. Enough not to be rude, anyway.

“Yes, I have. I wanted to make sure I did all my housework today, as I’m on my to my son’s house. He’s off for the weekend with his wife, so I’m going to look after the children. I wanted to get my washing done, and polish the floor, get the bathroom cleaned, all that kind of thing. It’s the washing that takes the time, I’ve got a twin tub. I’ve been wanting to buy an automatic machine for a long time, but this one is still working, so it seems a shame to get rid of it. My son keeps telling me he’ll buy me a new one, but I don’t like to change things until they stop working. It must be because I still remember rationing, and when you were grateful for what you had. Not like now.”

Will needn’t have worried about entering into a conversation. This one was very one-sided.

“My son keeps changing his mobile phone every year, I’ve still got an old one with a dial. I haven’t even got a mobile. He keeps saying I should have one in case of emergencies, but I’ve lived this long without, so I don’t see what the need would be. It’s just another expense.”

As he sat listening to her, he realised she was talking a lot of sense. She’d lived through tough times, and knew what it was like to work hard. In fact, she probably worked harder than most people working now will ever do.

“It’s the modern world, I’m afraid. It doesn’t matter if something still works, there’s another thing over there that will do the same job, but looks a little nicer. People don’t have the same sense of value.”

“Well, my son says he needs to keep up to date with the latest technology, so he has to change his phone and computer whenever he can. He’s always so busy, I guess it must make his life a little easier.”

Being able to check your emails while you’re taking a dump is not making your life easier. Being online constantly is not making your life easier. Having a new washing machine is.

“You remind me of my mother. She used to say the same things about my older sister. She’s always saying how busy she is, but I’m sure it’s mainly due to being in constant contact with her office. It really irritates me when people say ‘we lead such busy lives these days’, when it’s mainly self-imposed. I imagine your life was much busier.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. We just got on with things that had to be done. I’m not sure if we thought we were busy.”

Normally Will longed to get to his destination, so he could escape from all the unwashed people crowding the bus. Today, he wished the journey could have lasted longer.

“Here’s my stop. It’s been a pleasure talking with you. I hope your grandchildren behave for you.”

“Thank you, dear. Have a lovely weekend.”

“You too.”

He stepped off the bus, wishing he’d had more time to talk. It wasn’t often he even said ‘thank you’ or ‘excuse me’ to anyone on a bus, let alone have an interesting and meaningful conversation. It did bother him that her son might be taking advantage of her, expecting her to look after his children while he went off and enjoyed himself without them. That seemed to be the modern way, as well as technology and the throw-away society. Both parents work all week, and then decide they need a break from the children they hardly ever see anyway, and rope in the grandparents, who of course will be happy to help, won’t they. They love spending time with their grandchildren. Dad’s been working all week, the last thing he wants to do is feed them, wash them, play with them or have anything to do with them at all.

And of course, people have such busy lives these days.

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This Really Does Have to Stop

First of all, let me say that I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey. This is not a review of the book, nor a comment on its content or literary merit. Unlike many out there who seem to feel qualified to review something they have not read, I will not be giving my opinion.

This book is a phenomenon of the digital age. It is the fastest selling book of all time. But, this has to be put in context. When Harry Potter first came out there was no such thing as an eBook. People had to queue outside Waterstones or Barnes and Noble at midnight to get the next book in the series. Now, it’s available at the touch of a button, so although Ms James has achieved a remarkable feat, it is impossible to compare it to any other best seller in the past.

But it is still a remarkable feat.

This book has received a lot of attention, for various reasons. The biggest one has to be the sexual content. This has polarised opinion, with as many on the side of ‘I won’t be reading that filth’ as there are on the ‘Is it as good as they say it is?’ side. I know a few women who have read the books, some of whom say they enjoyed the sex parts, others who said they weren’t that good, others who felt it was too graphic and skipped over those bits.

But they all said they enjoyed the books, particularly the romance.

These people are all readers, who have no knowledge of writing techniques and the do’s and don’t’s; they just know what they like, and this was it.

But the sad thing is that so many self-published and independently published authors are screaming from the roof-tops about what a travesty it is that someone with, in their view, no talent whatsoever has managed to manipulate the public into buying what is clearly a pile of rubbish that, as I read just today, would be better off cut up into pieces and hung on a string in the toilet.

Also, apparently, and I have no knowledge of this myself, so I can only assume they are correct, this is a direct rip-off of  Twilight. Really, is this the first time someone has taken another person’s work and used it for their own benefit? West Side Story anyone? And of course, the play that is based on was taken from an older Italian story.

Of course, I am not suggesting that either 50 Shades or Twilight are in the same literary category as Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story, I am just using them as an example. Added to which, the only person who should be concerned about it is Stephanie Meyer, and from the interview she gave to MTV earlier in the year, she has no problem at all with the books. She said she fully supports Ms James.

What really saddens me about all of this is that so many indie authors are complaining so loudly. ‘Why is she making so much money from such trash when my writing is so much better than hers?’ ‘How dare she be so successful when I am clearly more talented than her.’ ‘Her writing is so bad, as is the spelling and grammar.’

Well, I have read the opening chapter of this book, and also of some of the people who are shouting the loudest. You know what? In most cases her writing is better, as is her sentence structure. There are some bad books out there, all of them self-published and most of them undeserving of any success.

And I am willing to accept that people will feel the same about my book. Not everyone will like it, just as not everyone will like 50 Shades.

But, if by some miracle one of those books I have chosen to check out turns into a best seller, will I ridicule the author? No, just as I will not ridicule EL James. She has achieved what we all want, and we should be celebrating her success, not vilifying her. I will gladly applaud any self-published author that goes on to bigger and better things.

All these authors are doing is showing how mean-spirited and envious they are. In the majority of cases it is nothing more than sour grapes, and paints all independent authors in a very bad light.

I for one salute her. And I am ashamed for all the haters who would have her books turned into toilet paper

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Don’t be scared of poor reviews

A few weeks ago I placed an offer on Librarything for a free copy of Have a Nice Weekend, asking if the recipients could post a review if they so wished. Around 150 people requested a copy, and shortly after it ended reviews started to come in. They were mixed, ranging from four stars down to one. I had always known that a one star would happen sooner or later, but when three came in in quick succession, I was a little surprised.

Now, I had always been told not to respond to poor reviews, as this could make the situation worse. Then last week I read a blog from an author who said she always responds to poor reviews, and in many cases she was able to convert them into three, four or even five stars. So, I thought what the Hell, I’ll respond to one of them.

I should point out now that it was not my intention then, nor is it now, to get the review changed. The reviewer gave her opinion, and that is her right. I am not interested in changing that, nor getting a review that is not honest and heartfelt.

So, I merely commented on her blog, thanked her and picked up on the one point where we agreed – we both like Steely Dan. It also turns out that we both like Radiohead. I haven’t asked her about Willie Nelson yet.

We are now following each others blogs, and who knows, maybe we will even be friends on Goodreads or FB one day. I have read through some of her other reviews, and they are all well thought out and constructive. The fact that she didn’t like my book has no bearing on how I feel about the rest of her reviews. I will even be sharing some that are of interest.

Since her review, I have had two more which were four star, one of which described the book as ‘a little gem’. The other one was titled ‘A Refreshing Change’. The first was from the Librarything giveaway, the other was from a buyer on Amazon UK.

It might also be worth pointing out that my mother does not like my book, and my CEO couldn’t read it because he found it too depressing. Even my friends and family are divided. But all the reviews, positive and negative are genuine.

So, what is my point here? I’m not sure, really. Maybe it’s to say that one star reviews are not personal, and should not be taken as such. Maybe it’s to say don’t be scared of your reviewers – you’re both human, and have different likes and dislikes.

But what I would definitely say is, thank you, Susan.

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Here we are (again)

Hey, look. Yet another blog. One I’m sure no one will read, but still: it gives me something to do.

I think this is the fourth blog I have created, each one having died before. I really must make sure I keep this one going.

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