Out today on Kindle – Counter
The media (social and mainstream) would lead most people to believe that the world has never been so dangerous or that governments have never been so incompetent or evil. Whether its the latest news on Brexit, Trump’s Tweets, Putin’s evil intent or the chaos that is Syria and Yemen. There appears to be a tendency to ignore even recent history.
It seems apt that I take a personal perspective. This year marks the 40th year (in August) since I entered full time employment. I left school at 17 (Much to my parents annoyance) half way through my A Levels. It was unusual then to even take A Levels. University was for less that 20% of the population. I was in the vast majority. The UK was a very different place. A Labour Government was in charge under Jim Callaghan as Prime Minister and his infamous ‘Winter of Discontent’ was to follow that winter.
I had dreams of being a rock star (don’t laugh) instead I became an Electronics Technician earning (via a weekly brown envelope holding the cash) £29 per week equivalent to about £160 in today’s inflation affected money. The inflation rate was 7.8%. It would rise higher along with interest rates.
The UK was known as the sick man of Europe which was the trading block known as the EEC or Common Market as it was commonly known. The UK had joined the EEC with Denmark and Ireland in 1973 – there was no referendum. It did have a referendum to remain in 1975.
The troubles were 10 years old in Northern Ireland and that year 82 deaths were attributed to the conflict. The next year would be worse. The UK was still supporting the new Oman regime but elsewhere was not directly militarily involved, except of course the day to day cold war with the Soviet Union. To give some context to Middle East troubles including Oman this is a handy reference – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_conflicts_in_the_Middle_East
Jimmy Carter was US President having beaten Gerald Ford in 1976. Ford of course had become President after Nixon resigned in August 1974. (pence for Trump?) The Iranian revolution would follow in 1979 with all the troubles that caused Carter. Brezhnev was the leader of the Soviet Union and would be until Nov 1982. He would be in charge when the Soviet Union entered Afghanistan in 1979 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Afghan_War.
It took the Soviet Union nearly 10 years to ‘get out’ of Afghanistan. The US supported the Mujahideen including Bin Laden with advisors and weapons. The US Ambassador to Afghanistan was murdered in 1979 initially blamed on a communist group. The US, UK and others still have troops there since the October 2001 invasion and in Iraq since March 2003. How long will it be until we completely leave both countries.
In 1978, Germany was split East and West with Berlin a split city in the East. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, were still joined. Solidarity in Poland was still a couple of years off. The KGB was the security apparatus of the Soviet Union supporting the vassal states in the Warsaw Pact. A Bulgarian exile Georgi Markov was murdered on a London Street by a poisoned umbrella pellet in Sept 1978. Odd murders by security services are not new.
The World Wide Web would not be invented until 1989 and have little relevance until the late 1990s. There were 16 million users world wide in 1995 when I was a military officer on an Exchange post in the USA. Now there are over 4 Billion. The Internet of course existed in Military and scientific fields before that.
Writing this is has reminded me how much has changed personally and how little has changed world wide. Yes, names have changed and regimes have changed, but global politics is as messy as ever. We still have Middle East conflict. US Presidential politics and rows about Europe. We can add in the mix a rising China and risk of trade wars, climate changes and the risks from population growth. Despite the current issues it still feels a better world than watching uncollected rubbish pile on the streets whilst walking to work because of yet another strike.
Alex has everything. He’s one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. He’s chased by the Paparazzi and once went out with a communist. Now he hides from publicity whilst trying to find a soul mate.
Victoria is a struggling waitress in a London restaurant. She shares a flat with Sophie an aspiring actress whilst trying not to give up a dream of making a success.
They meet and try to make it work in this contemporary romance
In final reviews and Beta Reads
It’s 4 years today since my first book came out.
Hard to understand where the time has gone. Of course a lot has happened since then. More books written, some have even sold! The original An Agent’s Demise was followed by two sequels and a combined trilogy. Yet my writing went in other directions. The excitement of hitting lofty heights of number 1 in the charts for a day with Demise has not been repeated.
I have had (and still have one) two different day jobs since then.
Four years ago my children were still students now they are both post degree and working.
If someone knows where the time went please let me know – I think it’s with the odd socks and pens in my home. Perhaps it’s just the extra wrinkles on my face. Not a good trade.
Now I need Book 10 to get finished. The nine current ones are listed below. You never know someone might want to read one!
Thinking of using the following cover and title for the Coming Soon title Grey
What do you think of the cover or title Grey 6749
Not trying to steal Pink Floyd lyrics from the song of the same name and no this is not a comment on the recent planetary discoveries. This is about this very quiet blog. Quiet from me that is after nearly a month without a post. Of course I have done a couple of minor updates to pages. Blink and you would miss them. Updates on pages about books which is, in the end, the purpose of this blog.
Yes despite the politics and commentary I’m trying to sell my books or at least get people interested in reading them. Sorry if that is a shock to anyone that does read the blog.
“How’s that going then?” I hear you
Well, as of 18:30 UK British Summer Time on 7th September 2016, generally OK. Not great but OK if I take the long view. My biggest seller is currently ranked just over 700,000 out of 6 million plus on Amazon USA and 290,000 on Amazon UK. One sale can move me up tens of thousands of places until you hit the lofty heights of the sub 100,000s. Good news today is that I have had an offer to translate one of my books into Portuguese.
I still have sales occasionally, even rarer to get reviews which may or may not hamper or help sales but we are not here to discuss sales or reviews or even lack of blogs. Oh no, we have bigger fish to fry.
The anyone out there was based on some alarming statistics on the actual number of readers as percentages of the population. I was led to this topic by a GoodReads forum discussion. They had USA figures which implied that only 2% of the US population had read a book in the past year. That is still a lot of people but that means 98% had not – a much bigger number. So I have been digging.
According to National Readership Survey 65% of UK adults read some print news on a daily basis rising to 92% on an irregular basis and higher if electronic media is included. According to this news story in The Guardian from 2013, 4 million adults never read a book for pleasure which implies that the UK is far more literature inclined than the US and…
A quarter of the UK’s adult population – more than 12 million people – had picked up a book to read for enjoyment less than twice in the past six months.
Which of course means that 75% of adult population had i.e. 36 million potential readers and the numbers are better for a single book in 12 months. I would presume that this number had not gone down significantly in last 3 years. So I have a massive market to aim at. I should be happy at the potential, I mean even an Apple like 0.0005% (tax Apple allegedly paid on profits in Ireland) would equate to 186 sales – wow I could get to 150,000 or higher on that basis!
Surely there is someone out there that wants to read a book, mine I mean? Is there anybody out there?
I have been posing a question to myself, no one else talks to me so I might as well. Has Human evolution stopped? If you are a creationist or other similar believer please stop reading now.
The general scientific viewpoint is that the evolutionary process as described by Darwin and others is how all lifeforms on planet Earth (and anywhere else) evolved via genetic mutation based on survival of the fittest. To be blunt this means that only the strongest survive. In relatively modern times (given billions of year of Earth’s history) the study of this has had bad implications from Eugenics to the Nazi’s but have we as a species also caused our own problems.
Many of you will be aware of the Darwin Awards which describes anecdotal or sometimes real incidents where Darwin fights back against stupidity of human beings but I would like to widen the discussion into two areas. Health and Safety and Dentistry. The medical arguments would only cause anger and allegations of discrimination whilst missing the point.
Health and Safety
An example from the Olympics at the weekend. The leading rider crashed in the women’s race the day after 2 of the leading men’s race riders had done a similar thing. This prompted all and sundry to complain about the safety of the course. No one mentioned that the riders should have ridden slower to ensure they got around the bend(s). Likewise at work we have become accustomed to the H&S rules dictating everything from ladder positioning to what height out seat should be. All of this is taken care of now and policed by a range of rules and legislation. Thus preventing a range of actions that would have killed off sections of the public who seem to have lost the ability to think for themselves. i.e. crossing roads by looking both ways not whilst reading your phone with headphones in/on. Instead build more barriers and post warnings not to do this. So the stupid idiots who lack common sense are maintained in the gene pool to reproduce and create more idiots who will then have to be protected from their own stupidity. Of course if our ancient ancestors had not played with fire we would not have developed the means to use it. Playing with a busy road may not be the best way of progressing the brainpower of our species, although car brake engineering has come on leaps and bounds.
Sexual attraction (and consequent mating) is based on physical attractiveness our use of dentistry to improve looks is now hiding genetic failure. If you genetically have bad teeth a trip to the dentist will help, but your future mate would not know what’s hiding in the genes or jeans. This Dentistry is denying Darwin. Of course dentistry also improves health due to lack of cleaning teeth but thus bad teeth genetically continue. Darwin reversed or blocked. The same is true of course of other medical advances.
Countering My Own Argument
Of course the keeping of genetic mutations which might otherwise die out also means that the genetic spectrum is wider thus potentially more scope for greater and more diverse development. Then there is the impact of gene splicing or other genetic manipulation either before birth or via stem cells/medical implant to remove certain diseases or hereditary illnesses.
Who knows perhaps in 10,000 years we will all have perfect teeth at birth and live as long as we want.
I’m a Luddite, a technophobe or just plain old. I don’t get social media. Clearly that is not strictly true. This is social media or part of it, as are Twitter and Facebook. I have accounts at both I just don’t use them. I mean when this blog is published it gets linked to Twitter, Facebook and my Linked-In profile and of course back to my author pages on Goodreads and Amazon. But that is it. If I don’t post I barely use the other means. I do post some limited comments on Goodreads and occasionally re-tweet a like. I have used a small Twitter advert alongside my other woeful attempts at marketing. Other than that the accounts are dormant – I struggle to recall my Facebook log-in
I just don’t fell the need to tell the world what I am doing every minute of every day. I watch the Millennial generation permanently connected and typing text, Facebook, Whatsapp, etc. I have no idea why they do it or feel the need to share their now non-private lives with anyone who cares. They exchange their data with all these companies with barely a thought for what is done with it or where it is or why anyone wants to know. My wife and daughter constantly update and like others’ streams, timelines and whatever the profile details are called.
As the usual technical support for these and other IT issues, I have no idea how to post a photo onto the timeline. Actually, I do but I cannot be bothered. I don’t want to be tagged in a photo. Actually as a so-called IT professional I feel I should know all about these systems and how they work, but frankly I do not care. I am far more concerned with infrastructure, databases, networks, system up time and performance than I am with how to add a comment to a Facebook post..
At work I have email, Intranet, IM and Yammer. Again I struggle to understand why everyone wants to know what I am doing, where I am and what I am working on or even at work, in a meeting or away. Of course my boss wants to know and he does. Normally we meet or I telephone.
Some people think this is reclusive behaviour, guilty as charged. I just like to think that I like my privacy especially away from formal work. This means that I am doing the role of author all wrong. These days I should be posting and twittering continuously in the vague hope that all this activity might lead to someone reading my book or even better buying one.
PC Pro published an article this month (I’m a subscriber to a physical magazine – as I said a Luddite) stating that ‘eBook sales were stagnant and the technology underpinning them was dull.’ It then listed some stats on UK sales from the top five publishers, forgetting about the rest of the world and independent writers in the process. Certainly the biggest e-book retailer seems to be having few problems. Perhaps the premise was wrong
I bring this up not just to comment on the article, I might write to them in a handwritten stamped addressed envelope delivered by Royal Mail. They appear not to have a web site not one the magazine lists anyway – they do. They have email, Twitter and of course Facebook. I have dispensed with a dedicated web site. I still have a name and page but my web site is now this blog. A sign of the times or just the sheer effort needed to keep all these systems going. I’m blogging today when I should be writing. I’m reading Goodreads’ forums rather than reading a book or better yet trying to write one.
We go to restaurants for company and the food to find our companions still telling the world that they are in a restaurant and interacting with people that are not there. Still one thing I would have loved when I was a single dating person (neolithic age I think) is Tinder. I used to hate asking a girl to dance or to buy her a drink, because I was scared of the big No rejection. Now I would just have to swipe. Not that I have. I have just watched how it works. Mrs H need have no concerns. This is not an Ashley Madison confessional.
You see I do know about these things I just don’t use them. They are like a drug and a I saw a news article this week about IT Detox. Yes it was on-line and had hundreds of comments, likes rather missing the point I thought.
Please of course like this, re-tweet it – I’m not that anti.