Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Farewell to Blogspot – well, nearly

OK, this is almost the last blogspot blog. Not because I’m stopping, but because, thanks to Anneke, I have a new website and I’ll be blogging there from now on. But there’ll be a grand finale here too because, on March 1st, I’m hosting my friend, the versatile Greta van der Rol, on one of her blog tour stops. It’ll also stay open because the 180-odd postings here may still be of interest to forensic psychiatrists and/or students of the absurd.

It started on March 18th 2009 and, despite calling the first entry ‘Dipping a toe into the existential water’ (and thereby alienating trillions of potential readers), I did get some followers. Which is more than can be said for the new one where, at the moment, sitting forlornly at the top of the page is a nearly empty box which should be filled with all your grinning countenances and/or avatars.

So this admirably short posting is here for just one reason, to beg, beseech, implore, cajole and entreat you to visit the new site and, even if you’re only pretending, join me (and the badger) there.

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Friday, 24 February 2012

A miscellaneous medley of patchwork pot-pourris

The title is merely following the modern political and commercial impulse to generate words which imply but simultaneously evacuate meaning. So …

Four excuses for the gap since the last post:
  • Family visits.
  • I’m doing another ‘Brilliant’ book for Pearson Education. This time it’s Academic Writing, so it’ll simply be borrowings from a couple of the other books and writing new introduction, conclusion and linking materials.
  • Under the usual, generous direction of Anneke Klein, I’m making a new website, partly to use the header above instead of having the current looming head at the top of each page, but also to make it easier for me to add and delete stuff when I want without having to impose on Anneke every time. It'll also mean migrating this blog to the new site and (doubtless), losing both my followers in the process.
  • My perennial laziness (and, speaking of laziness, whatever happened to my brother Ron?).

Of course, there’s also the fact that I have nothing much to say. I’ve just done a highly enjoyable, very interesting interview with Sara Bain. You can see it hereSara is a journalist who gives so much time to others that she doesn’t leave enough for her own writing. She also has a way of framing questions that produces answers which take you into areas you hadn’t anticipated. If you want to learn about your characters (and yourself) a Sara Bain interview is the route to take.

What else? Well, the interview was timed to coincide with the release of the fifth Jack Carston novel, Unsafe Acts, and Sara’s questions about how I ‘met’ Carston and how he’d developed made me focus on something I already knew – he’s changed quite a lot. Or maybe he’s allowed more aspects of his personality to appear. I spoke about this in the interview so I won’t go over the ground again here, but my suspicion is that the next in the series will be the last and I’m toying with the idea of it being narrated by Carston himself.

And one final thing to confirm forever my bafflement at the whole world of publishing (as if such confirmation were needed). This is for those of you who seek value in books. You’ll remember that The Sparrow Conundrum won an award, but maybe there are two versions of it in circulation because I notice that, while the paperback still costs $10.99 on Amazon USA, you can actually buy – from the same site, 12 new copies priced from $9.15 to $39.17.

The same division between cheap crap and quality literature is evident on the Amazon UK site too, where The Figurehead, new from Amazon, will set you back £8.88 but its obviously far superior used doppelganger will cost you £39.92.

Best of all, though, are the two versions of The Darkness. Now I think it’s pretty good – but then I wrote it, so I would, wouldn’t I? But I obviously didn’t realise just how good it was. Amazon seems to have been priced out of the market because, on its site, used copies are available at prices ranging from $98.53 (yes, almost the magic $100) to (and I swear this is true because I checked it again and again) $250.80.

So if anyone reading this was thinking of buying the $250.80 copy, I have few here I’d happily let you have for just $250 each, with free postage.

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

SALE!!!! Everything (i.e. 1 item) must go!!!

A few years back, I joined Second Life™ (known to residents as SL), to do some research on a short story I was writing. It’s a fascinating, addictive place and I made friends there whom I’d never have met under normal circumstances. It’s a place where you can indulge all sorts of fantasies and, indeed, there are stories of people who have more or less opted out of their Real Life, which is the term used there, and prefer to live, interact, and even worship in the virtual world. In times of austerity, the ability to build yourself a vast home in a fantastical location of your choosing, fly through the air and be perpetually young and attractive (or be a dragon, unicorn or mouse if you prefer) has obvious appeal. It’s very liberating but the loosening of inhibitions can also be dangerous.

In the end, I left because it was taking up too much of my time. But while I was there, I was involved in various writing groups which were very stimulating and which caused me to write some stories which would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t experienced that mingling of the real and the virtual. A few months ago, I put some of them together and it was clear that the real/virtual theme was strong in nearly all of them. There was also the fact that the coexistence of 2 ‘realities’ is the perfect situation for humour, since laughter depends a lot on the unexpected.


Well, it didn’t take much to write a narrative strand that let me put them into a sequence which offered a sort of development to a conclusion. I’m not claiming great things of it – some of the stories are sad, some funny, some satirical, some absurd, some just rude –  but the one thread running through them all is that strange virtual/real dynamic. And they make up a novella. I wouldn’t want to risk offending the people at Second Life ™, whose creation really is remarkable, so the stories take place in a game called Alternative Dimension – a game which does the same sort of things but is by no means a replica of SL.

And the reason I’m telling you this is because, for this weekend only on Amazon, it’s free. Naturally enough, the title is Alternative Dimension and it’s written by my avatar, Jack Lefebre. (Actually my avatar had a ‘v’ in his name, too, but there are already writers called Jack Lefebvre and I didn’t want to offend them.)

It won’t take a minute to log on, ‘buy’ it and, if you’re like me, store it with all the other freebies you’ve downloaded and forgotten about. It’s at http://amzn.to/zvutuc for the USA and http://amzn.to/yt6Mno for the UK

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