Saturday, 30 May 2009

How to follow me and comment on this blog...

Good question! You can obviously read these blog entries without having a Google Account, but you will need one in order to comment. Good news is that it is very simple!

Just go to Google and create an account. Here’s a quick link:

Once you have a Google Mail Account (you don’t even have to use it regularly), you can use the free Blogger tool in i Google and post comments to this and a host of other such blogs.

Still confused? Contact me at my website ( and I’ll give you a hand!

Availability of my books and where to buy them from...

Interesting one this, as I often get asked “how can I purchase your book?” “Is it available on Amazon?” and “Can I buy it in a bookstore?”

Perhaps the best way of answering this is to start at the beginning when I first wrote The Road to Inheritance. It was published through Trafford Publishing, which meant that it was available through many typical distribution channels, including Amazon, with the possibility of stocking in a number of bookstores close to me at the time (i.e. throughout Worcestershire). Great, fantastic stuff, or so I thought. However, it quickly became apparent that there were a number of problems. Firstly, the book had not been proofed correctly and required some further editing. Trafford decided that there was a large fee for this as an initial print run had been carried out. Secondly, the unit price was very high for a paperback – well over ten pounds for a copy. When you added the postage and the resell fee from the likes of Amazon, the price was nearing fifteen pounds, which is acceptable for a richly presented dust-jacket hard cover, but ridiculous for a young adults paperback. Not only that, but the shipping time was often over a month!

By this stage, I was well underway with the sequel, which became Raphael and, with Trafford wanting to charge yet another fee for its publication, I decided to re-think matters, which is when Lulu came along. Once the sequel was finished, both books received a full edit and further proofing, before being re-launched through the Lulu bookstore – without costing me anything and with full author control. Not only that, but the unit price were slashed to the point where they became commercially viable once again.

Now, whilst I threw myself into the rigours of writing The Silver Knight, I was presented with the offer of a Literary agent representing me from the States. Initially I jumped at the chance to get my work in front of leading publishers and signed myself up with their agency. However, as the weeks and months rolled by, it appeared as if the promise of gold was something of an overblown claim. The publishing companies who were interested in The Silver Knight wanted my to cut the length and undergo some broader marketing exercises that I felt were not appropriate for the target market. I was losing control again...

So, to bring things up to speed, I decided to cut my ties with the agent, finish off the novel and, with the artistic assistance of Steve Farmer (who I think you’ll agree produced a fantastic cover for The Silver Knight), I created a hard cover version and paperback version in Lulu, where it is currently available for a very reasonably price, given the length. The Road to Inheritance remains available on Amazon, due to its ISBN having been set up by Trafford (Raphael and The Silver Knight currently do not have ISBNs, though this may change in time – in fact I have been contacted by someone to say that they may soon stock the books on Amazon so watch this space) but I would act with caution with Amazon as I question their ability to source original copies, whilst Amazon Marketplace is littered with people who I believe have obtained first proof copies that, whilst they look okay, are not up to standard.

So there you have it – some of the reasons as to why I am self-published and will undoubtedly remain so for some time. Ultimately, it means that I can produce content at my leisure, to serve myself and my readers at a competitive price. In fact, what are you waiting for? – here’s the store:

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Victor Meldrew

For some strange reason I am known as Victor Meldrew. A miserable sod, always moaning and complaining. Very unfair (although, on reflection, the photo I had originally thought depicted me as wistful and somewhat scholarly perhaps veers on the side of dejection) I think.

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that for once I am delighted, for my office space has been returned. I am back – I can write!

How lucky for you all…

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I was reading an article about the recent high earnings tax on those who receive salaries of over £150k and it seemed that those who were complaining were people who were claiming to be “working class” in terms of their background, only to have worked hard in order to receive such rewards. It seems as if the concept of the working class, and indeed any class, has been shattered by the socio-economic developments of the last three or four decades in which the sixties media push, followed by the eighties entrepreneurial boom and the nineties celebrity explosion and lottery wins have combined to create a new, more complex hierarchy of class.

For the record, I’ve made my own attempt to classify the structure...

Upper Class
Sits at the top of the pile. However, number are dwindling as investments worth a considerable fortune twenty years ago are now running short, whilst the succession of Eton-bred children still scourge the piggy banks for their pocket money to pay for Ferrari’s and champagne breakfasts. Still many tip top characters interspersed with arrogant wretches, but what else do you expect?
The Duke of Westminster , Michael Jopling

New Money Class
Crass, ill-educated, tacky, usually arrogant and rich. They started out in working class families and, via an un-fancied route (lottery win, football, modelling, film or music career, or business venture), they have come into far more money than they can comfortably handle at too fast a rate, creating a monstrous scenario and the inspiration for thousands of idle people throughout the Kingdom.
Roman Abramovich, David Beckham, Jordan

A sub-pocket of this class includes the self-righteous new money (aka JK Rowling, and the Body Shop woman)

The Workers Class
Anyone who works full time and is not a millionaire
You, me and some others

The Working Class
Still sitting near the bottom and, like the upper class, dwindling in number. Such communities can still be found in the industrial areas of inner-cities. Yes, they may spend all their disposable income at the pub or on tabloid newspapers, but at least they earn it!
John Smith, John Brown, Big Al – you get the picture

Idle Class
A growing market – (someone should tell Sir Alan Sugar and then he might reduce the size of his donations to the Labour party). Benefit fraudsters, chavs, drug dealers, pimps, these people thrive off Jeremy Kyle, Heat magazine and the European Court of Human Rights for their inspiration
Most Big Brother Contestants

You may have some suggestions of your own?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Sports of Kings

This summer, many of the best players in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland will compete against the South Africans in three Rugby Union Test Matches as the British & Irish Lions. Shortly after, the English Cricket team will compete against the Australians in five Test Matches for the most coveted prize of all – the Ashes.

King Willow and the British Lions. The sports of cricket and rugby, forged in the grounds of England’s public schools and village greens and exported throughout the British Empire to a plethora of other nations and cultures. Sports that developed a rich and complex set of rules, laws, styles, approaches and philosophies in order to create the ultimate contest of attack verses defence and vice versa. Of bowler verses batsman, of tight head against loose head. Not only that, but once the game is over, the battle tents, (having been pitched for the contestants to don their body armour) are home to the merry-making of the two teams to discuss the finer points of the days play.

The Age of Chivalry was built upon such virtues. Honour, excellence, endeavour and a sense of dramatic and theatrical competition. Those of you who may recall the drama of Edgbaston, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge in the summer of 2005 will find it hard not to salivate at the prospect of another series even half as exciting. Remember, for every in-play bouncer that split open the cheek of the Australian captain, there was the end-of-play arm-round-the-shoulder from Flintoff to Lee. What about the back-against the-wall camaraderie of the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa, commencing with Keith Wood swinging from a tree in team bonding sessions and culminating in the winning drop goal from the boot of Jerry Guscott?

Can football ever conjure the same myths and legends that the likes of cricket and rugby have created? If, by throwing oneself around, diving, spitting, under-performing, cheating, copulating with your fellow players after every goal and earning a small fortune every week constitutes the beautiful game, then you can keep it.

That particular sport, I am afraid, is dead

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Hounds of Harfleur

The notion of despair is a very literary element, but that does not stop it from being a damn pain in the backside. As John Cleese’s character remarked in the film Clockwise, “It’s not the despair, it’s the hope.” That we allow our hopes to be raised and filled with expectancy, joy and excitement is the very reason why, when such plans fall asunder, the Samaritans find their lines fully engaged, whilst Beachy Head shows a queue reaching back to the M3.

So why do we allow hope to play the fiddle with our emotions and ultimately crush our spirit? Well, we don’t, really. It’s more to do with the drive necessary to achieve ones goals. Be it the casual viewing of a television program or the prize job interview, we must put everything into our efforts if they are to stand a chance of success. As Henry V remarked at the siege of Harfleur (according to Shakespeare, that is): I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start. The game's afoot: follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'” Never fault the passion or the effort.

However, when the television goes bang or the car breaks down half a mile from the interview destination, it’s a little too much to ask for ones spirits to remain in the ascendancy. Rather more realistically, after a lengthy bout of swearing, cursing, insults, bitter tears, threats and whatever else comes to hand, we invariable end up back home, in the pub, or somewhere similar feeling sorry for ourselves. Moreover, the next time hope finds its way along, it is invariably treated with a harsher degree of cynicism. This is a cycle that can be repeated continuously until the bitter, morbid conclusion.

Can it be broken? Yes, well, I heard there are some golden rules for the avoidance of despair, as follows:

1/ Never assume that anything will go to plan
2/ Plan for the worst
3/ Never relay upon anyone other than yourself (and Id even question self-reliance)
4/ Assume that incompetence is the norm5/ Treat good news as a pleasant surprise that is unlikely to be repeated.

Oh, I must stop, this is starting to sound depressingly like “An Audience with Victor Meldrew.” Anyway, there was a point to this meandering pessimism and that was that I had a solution of my own and one born of a more positive ilk. It is simply this:

Can we all just try and be more bloody efficient?

Thank you

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Cut Adrift...

You may have noticed something of a sparse offering here of late and I must confess that it really isn’t my fault. You see, I’ve just moved house and am without many of the usual forms of communication we all take for granted (phone, internet, etc). I am sure I will be back on track over the course of the next few days and weeks, but it is a worthy example of just what technology has meant in controlling our lives. Indeed, with Jack Templeman considering himself fortunate if he is sent a messenger every few months, I really wonder what all the fuss is about. Then again, this is a blog and therefore has to rely, in some form or other, upon digital communication...

So, I promise, I’ll try and abandon the smoke signal ASAP and return to the keyboard properly

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Cavemen and Stress

Moving house. Trying to move house. Selling a house. Buying a house. Why is it such an ordeal? Now, I understand that there’s very little empathy available for hire in the world today, particularly in areas where so many of us suffer, so I shall not become hysterical and try to steal sympathy. That would be pointless anyway, for when did sympathy ever get us anywhere? I just want to know why everything is such a hassle? No wonder we all get ill.

Many years ago, moving house was easier – that is, if you bothered to do it at all. If you go back even further, thousands of years ago, you simply set up shop wherever took your fancy. No estate agents, solicitors or bankers. No roads, cars, mortgages. No bills, traffic or debts.

What a life

Well, okay, they did have their issues. However, I cannot help but think that cavemen had less stress than we do today. No wonder they are always portrayed as having looked so healthy. Long hair, tans, perfect complexion. Didn’t even need to see a dentist – perfect white teeth.

Easy life

Okay, okay, calm down, I know it wasn’t all smiles in days gone by. In fact, if you really want to know how stressful it could be in yesteryear, perhaps you’d like to read The Silver Knight? Click here to order your copy.

It’s not about a caveman, but all the same, it’s worth a read!