Monday, 28 December 2009

My review of the noughties

This was going to be a “We didn’t start the fire” blog, along the lines of...

Millennium bug, give a tree a hug,

Tony Blair, congestion fare,

Nine Eleven, innocents in heaven,
George Bush...

...but I really couldn’t be bothered (the effort is almost never justified). Instead, I just wanted to convey my amazement that another ten years has passed by. I do realise that periods of ten years are always passing us by, but you know what I mean.

The past decade has been entirely dominated by a Labour Government (much to my distress), the threat of Islamic nutcases, political correctness, global warming, reality television and celebrity-worship


Making money...

JK Rowling

Human Rights Lawyers

Bankers


Losing money...
Estate Agents

Newspapers

Bankers

I recall starting this decade drinking from copious bottles of champagne at the house of a very wealthy family (that I would not see again), seeing in the new decade with relish. Within a year I was in Brazil, within eighteen months I was living in London, soon to experience the aftermath of 9/11 in the streets of our capital. Another eighteen months later I graduated, visiting Australia and New Zealand before returning home to sit on the scrapheap of Tony Blair's pathetically devalued education legacy. In 2004 I completed my first novel, The Road to Inheritance, before contemplating a move to Scotland in order to find a new challenge. The challenge was, as it happens, already waiting for me, as the following year I completed the sequel, Raphael, before re-igniting my marketing career in Birmingham. As the decade moved into its second half, I began work upon the first of my historic series, The Silver Knight, with the first book being proofed and made ready for publication towards the end of 2008. I became engaged, married and sold and bought a house. Things very rarely remain stationary...

What would I like to see in the “teenies”?

England to get good at rugby again

The publication of more Silver Knight novels

A change of government

A cap on immigration

An end to terror
Spurs to win the league
The bathroom floor to stop squeaking

You get the idea. Anyway, lets hope Mr Obama and whoever else presides over the globe (Hopefully not Brown) get it right. If they do that, I’ll learn to live with the squeaking floor.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

A Christmas Message from the Official Author's Site

And Christmas greetings to you all. May the yuletide log stay locked in its gathering of embers and never stray from its perch lest it slip and burn your house down. That would be truly awful.

So, pleasantries out of the way...

I wanted to give an update on things this year. Obviously in December, the paperback was launched, with the hardback being released in January this year. The Silver Knight had taken two years to write, plus another year to edit, prepare and release – Id like to thank Steve Farmer for his work on the cover, which I’m sure you’ll agree is excellent & Lulu for their technical support and commitment to drive down prices.

Progress has been slow, but more and more people are reading the novel... in the spring I launched the blog and redesigned the website. I also got going with Twitter and was introduced to several fantastic online communities including Litarena...

So, a year for book releases and a year for technical developments and news. I’ve also been working on the next book in the Silver Knight series. In terms of my progress, this has been slow for various reasons – I only really started it properly this year and always anticipated that it would take at least two or three years to write, given my growing commitments in other areas...


However. I have made strides with the first draft and I’m certainly a fair way through the narrative and what snippets can I give you? It is roughly the same time scale as book one – around four years. Probably more political comings and goings in this one – Jack is in the pay of some fairly important people so you’ll get to meet the Earl of Warwick, the King and Queen, plus some interesting lords. He also travels further – up north, to the Midlands and also to France and Burgundy. Probably slightly faster paced, but I’m sure you will all be the judges of this! Also, a hint of the supernatural! Of course, the tile was something I promised I would reveal, so now would be a good time... this is, at present, a working title, so there is always a chance that it might later be altered, but the likelihood is that book two will be called "The Quests of the Silver Knight."

How lucky you are to have the privilege of access to this information! I can already feel the anticipation leaking through my pores...

Which simply leaves me to offer my warmest Yuletide felicitations to you all...and I hope you enjoy the video!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Will we all end up just staying at home?

I wondered this the other day, and these does seem mileage in it as a prediction. With the recession, many people are house bound as it is, either forced by redundancy, unemployment or by virtue of the fact that they have set up a temporary "cottage industry" at home (using Ebay, Amazon or something similar). The state of the traffic on the roads is shocking enough to force many people to work from home as often as possible - more people use online convenience shopping rather than travel to the shops, which in turn adds more traffic to the roads. Add to that the decline of the Royal Mail (emails and alternative suppliers being necessary), the rise in broadband and other instant technologies and you have a scary shift in behaviour.

Will everything be virtual? Will we all live in tracksuits or pants, never getting dressed, never seeing the sun? I am starting to sound like Ben Elton, I know...


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Listorious, quite glorious

This is reasonably interesting... Listorious.

Apparently, it is a dictionary of the best Twitter Lists to follow (and therefore
a flattering thing to find oneself in...)


Another useful tool for Tweeters out there to use...

Monday, 14 December 2009

This is the news

I try not to watch the news. It depresses me. In any case, I get a gist of what’s going on from the radio and internet throughout the day. Errant speculation and biased conjecture does not interest me. Nor does becoming depressed just before going to sleep. I prefer to watch comedy last thing at night. My wife, however, tends to want to know what is going on, which leads me to relaying the inevitable:

‘More people killed in Afghanistan, More bomb blasts in Pakistan. Some Islamic nutcase has built a nuclear missile in Iran. Riots and killings in Zimbabwe. Global warming is on the increase. Gordon Brown has placed another tax on cars/booze/fun & enjoyment to pay for his budget deficit. Oh, and a couple of innocuous football results.’


I often think about places that never get on the news. South America. Oceania. Antarctica. The North Pole (apart from it melting). Siberia. The Sahara desert. Wales. Let’s hear more about those places – mix it up a bit. I’d watch it then. Apart from Wales.


Saturday, 12 December 2009

The Thick of it

Does anyone watch this? If not, you are missing out on the best piece of television of the last year or two, probably since the Office and Extras finished (although this series has just ended so you might have to find an online link or buy the DVDs)

If you don't mind a good bit of swearing, then this is as good as a documentary - you can just see the influence of the New Labour spin machine in full swing.

Be interesting how they proceed after the election next year if the Tories get in... here's a link to a clip

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Richard III Society, American Branch...

Now a link to The Silver Knight on the Ricardian fiction page of the Richard III Society's American branch...

http://www.r3.org/reading/MedievalFiction_112709.php

This is probably more relevant to American readers, as the link points to the Amazon.com website. However, this is a global globe (if you know what I mean, which I cant pretend that you do) and the World Wide Web is no respector of island. The analytics on my website suggest that there are just as many readers of this blog outside the UK as upon it, which gives me great pleasure in acknowledging a global audience and catering for them accordingly.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Royal Mail Part Two... The Return of the Numbskull Postman...

You may recall several months ago my angst at having been led to a near breakdown as a direct cause of the Royal Mail's blitheringly erratic collection times. Actually, it was the loss of a key down the side of the passenger seat in my car that caused the public display of rage, but anyway...

If you read my telling of that story with interest, you may find it enlightening to know that the curse of their incompetence has risen again. A week or two ago, I was clearing out some rubbish from my garage, when I came across a brown shape poking out from beneath the bottom of the garage door onto the driveway. It had been disturbed by the movement of a bin inside, as I had not noticed it before. On closer inspection, I found it to be an A3 envelope, addressed to me. It had clearly been there some time, as the envelope was worn, moist and warped from the damp surface of the floor. I opened it and found an old map of the area in which I live. Now, that may seem a strange thing to receive; indeed, it may even revoke memories of a "Goonies" style treasure hunt instigated by a strange prophesy or Steven Spielburg script - however, the truth was that I had been expecting a map to arrive for several weeks. Perhaps a couple of months. It was an offer from a national newspaper - a historic map of your house. Simply collect some tokens, pay a small postage fee, etc... I had completely forgotten about it, but here it was, shoved under my garage door, probably having been there for some time.


The problem was, however, that the map was ruined. Damp, warped, crinkly. Or, to put it mildly, completely fucked. Only a moron of considerable incompetence would have placed it there, out of sight but at the mercy of the elements. Only a postman would have been so lazy as to have shoved it half-heartedly under the garage door, rather than to have taken it back to the depot and instead posted a card requesting collection due to the size of the article. Call me old fashioned, but I expect post to be placed in the letter box, not left in the rain, dropped kicked into the hedge, eaten, stolen or set fire to.


Naturally, I dispatched a complaint, which is actually far harder to do than it should be. Quite clearly, the onslaught of vitriol caused by the ongoing strike row has increased sensitivities within their HQ and they have done their best to make it difficult to complain. However, I am not easily deterred and after a twenty minute search I found the form, filled it in (in great detail) and sent it off. Freepost, incidentally.


A week later I received a reply. Quite extraordinarily, it stated that, in order to process my complaint, they required four things from me. Those things may just have well been gold, frankincense, a ticket to Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory and a thimble full of Polyjuice Potion, for all the likelihood of me being able to obtain them. Dismayed, I composed my own retort. Rather than to summarise, I thought it best to post the full effort here for you to see...


*********************
*********************

Dear...

I am writing regarding your response to my complaint about an item of mail that was shoved under our garage door by our postman in a fit of laziness and incompetence which as you are aware both warped and ruined the item. In your letter, dated 17th November you have requested four items from me in order to take the matter forward and that I send these within ten working days.

Clearly you cannot have read my original letter as the item that was damaged was a map SENT to me, which means I cannot reasonably be expected to produce the original certificate of posting. On the matter of point three, I am able to send the item to you, however, there must be some kind of guarantee that you are not simply going to lose that in addition to the countless other items that have been mislaid by your workers over the last few years. As for point four, why on earth do you expect me to provide two quotes showing the cost of replacing the damaged item? My estimate is that it would cost £15-£20 in a specialist shop to get hold of a similar map, but I certainly don’t have the time to gallivant across the country in search of this. The item was a newspaper offer – a one off – and my point was that you have damaged something which largely speaking is irreplaceable. For that, I demand some sort of compensation. I will not be dictated to with ridiculous demands for quotes. If you want a quote – you get one.

Which leaves us with point two – the senders full name and address. It was an offer that came from the Daily Mail back in the summer involving sending off tokens for a local historic map. Quite whether the offer was processed by The Daily Mail or by a subsidiary or associated company, I cannot say, but the address on the postage is as follows: (CENSORED). I suggest you do some detective work, seeing as one of your employees has caused this situation.

I can only assume that these four requests have been made in the hope that you make the matter so awkward for me that I simply give up and drop my complaint. Let me assure you that I have no intention of doing so and if necessary I will make this matter public online in blogs, forums, trading standards, in the local press and whatever else it takes for you to realise that this sloppy, pathetic level of service is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I await your response, which I trust will be slightly more substantial and less arrogant than your first attempt.


Yours sincerely...



*********************
*********************


I'll keep you posted on their response - my hopes are not high...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Advent calendars...medieval themed...

It is surprising how much one learns in the course of writing historical novels. Religion is the main topic that arises with such frequency. There are so many examples of trends, events and occasions that we now know under modern, social guises that have stemmed from religious days. Lady Day, for example, leading to what we now know as Mothering Sunday. Whitsun, Michaelmas, Trinity and All Saints (the festival not the band) being others.

And of course, the current period of Advent. A time we only now consider as being ripe for chocolate filled calendars and Christmas shopping, was an important element of the Catholic diary back in the height of the Middle Ages. It was during some research into this that I had an idea for marketing advent calendars as medieval items - perhaps with a knight coming out of a doorway for each day in the countdown to Christmas, to celebrate the origins of the period. Hey, perhaps even
a Silver Knight. Jack Templeman could appear in different outfits, finally leading to his full plate armour on the 24th of December to signify the arrival of Christmas Eve...

Buggar, I've cheapened it already. Just think, a serious author of medieval fiction descending to purveying cheap tat. I have embarrassed myself - ignore me, please...