Policemen and Blondie

They used to say that you knew you were getting older when the policemen looked young.

Well, that may be so but I have a different yardstick. Last night, I was listening to some Blondie and I thought to myself “Wonder what ever happened to Debbie Harry?” So I googled here and I discovered that she is 68-years old! 68! This is a woman I used to have on my wall and who I fantasized about as a teenager but she is 68….. This got me started. Cyndi Lauper – another amazing artist and I thought beautiful girl – well she is 60. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders – she would be 62. My childhood love – Sandie Shore – now 66 and SuZi Q – 63.

Now I feel old.

There was a time I rather hoped she would drive all night to come and see me……

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Saturday Night Thoughts on Promoting Books…

So its Saturday night and I find myself sat in front of the PC wondering yet again just how in thee world you actually promote a book. You see its November and believe it or not but The Last Observer hasn’t yet made any best seller lists and quiet honestly I am a tad disappointed. I reckon that by now my friends and family are sick to the back teeth of the hearing about the bloody book and probably do the internet version of crossing to the other side of the street when they see me coming! I reckon most of them that will buy it already have so I need a broader audience. But how?

I must have spent hours googling ‘how to sell my novel’ and similar search terms and I can only say that it has turned up nothing but the most turgid crap imaginable and the same old stale ideas about reviews, bloggers, press announcements, trailers, book signings etc. etc. bloody etc.

I have a problem. I don’t live in an English speaking country so book signings have very limited effect.

I’m stumped and have resorted to hiding behind lamp posts springing out on unsuspecting dog walkers clutching my business card replete with head shot photo on one side and book cover on the other. Sell more books? Hell no but it nearly got me arrested.

I have 1000 of these cards. What was I thinking? 1000! It was cheaper to print 1000 that 100 (well almost) and I can take them on business trips….

Actually, I need YOU. Word of mouth. Tell your friends and if they won’t buy it, buy it for them – for Christmas and tell them to tell their friends…

If you blog – let me send you some article that discusses the book. Actually, I have placed several of these and have a magazine article due out shortly too…. This may work.

Of course, what I really need to do is something so bizarre and so weird that it makes the news and goes viral on YouTube. What could that be though? Lady Ga Ga seems to have done everything I can think of involving nakedness and bizarre behaviour and my tongue just can’t compete with Miley’s…..

sex

Perhaps the best advice I have read – in stark contradiction to almost every other article including my own publishers advice – was forget promoting your book just get started writing the next one….. You know, that is really really good advice.

My Dunkirk

It was 1974. Unlike many kids from Hull, I had already been abroad. My parents had driven in 1962 from Hull to St. Tropez and back in a Reliant Robin with me in tow. We still have cine film – miles and miles of french hedgerow goes flying by for much of the film as my parents marveled at their bravery of driving so far on small French roads in a three wheel car that attracted looks of disbelief from the locals. I guess they felt like they would never return and so best film as much as possible? The film also has me in it sitting in the warm blue ocean, looking at artists painting St. Tropez harbour and interfering with the locals’ game of boules…. But, I digress. I had also been to Switzerland and Italy in 1969 again camping and driving miles and miles on little French, Swiss and Italian roads – no motorways back then you know!

So, my exchange with a French student wasn’t quite as exciting as it might have been. France was no mystery to this 14-year old. I already knew the country as beautiful and the girls even more so. French – the language that is – was more of a challenge. I have no brain for languages and I was terrible at French. Jean Luc was excellent at English however so all was well. He came to Hull first and was duly taken to such wondrous locations as Brid, Scarboro, Whitby and York. He purchased several LPs by some band called Status Quo and before I knew it, I too was a fan. He also liked Pink Floyd. He had good taste in music.

Jean Luc and I in Dunkirk 1974

Jean Luc and I in Dunkirk 1974

The train ride to Dover from Hull is tedious – it was back then even more tedious. The train was full with strange pairings of English and French kids all over excited and boisterous. The ferry then from Dover to Calais and then a car ride to Dunkirk – or a small village outside of Dunkirk. My adventure had began.

I recall the concrete floors painted green and total absence of carpets. The blinds that wound down to create total darkness at night. The dirt in the streets – yes – it was dirty. The food. New tastes including raw minced beef with raw egg. To be honest much of the trip was a blur. His father was the Captain of a ship and wasn’t home but Mother had a small car and we went all over the region – even as far as Brugges in Belguim. It was all too soon over but it began my love affair with France and all things French.

The next two summers we repeated the exchange – privately however. The summer before college I spent 8-weeks hitch hiking around using Jean Luc’s home as my base. For a while, we were firm friends. I wonder where he is now? I was lucky I know to find such friends and to enjoy so many experiences as a growing child and young adult. It broadened my young mind and by 18, my French was more than passable but not fluent. It was good enough to talk to the girls….

Smoke on the Water (and Everywhere Else Too)

I got my first guitar when I was 12. It was an acoustic. My father also got a guitar at the same time and while he focused on learning notes I focused on chords. He and I would play various folk songs where he would pick out the melody to my chords….

At age 14, I was bought a Woolworth’s electric and small amplifier. Of course, I was soon ‘jamming’ with other kids and we formed a band called Brutus shortly thereafter. actually, we simply met one night a week to sit chatting, strumming and tasting my Dad’s home-made beer shandy. Brutus however eventually became Nemo and Nemo had a weekly practice at the Conservative Club up in Willerby Square. Eventually, we could actually play a few songs…. passingly. The crappy woolies guitar was soon replaced by my pride and joy that sits across from me now. A Cleartone Musical Industry Telecaster Custom copy in black with maplewood neck. I did a paper round 5 nights a week for nearly two-years to buy it!

Nemo had a few line up changes and then we went into a local studio and recorded two songs. One written by me and the other a rock and roll classic. It was time to do our first proper gig.

smoke

So the five of us, none older than 16, found ourselves at some church hall one night the main feature – after the disco of course…. We wanted it to look good and we had invested in a few colored lights and two smoke bombs. The idea was to open with Smoke on the Water in darkness bringing up our coloured lights as the smoke from the two smoke bombs took effect. It would be a cool way to begin.

The moment came. Finding number one is that it is difficult to play in the dark on a small cramped stage but we managed. Finding number 2 is that smoke bombs create a lot of smoke. By the time we were two or three riffs into the song, it was apparent that the smoke was over done. So over done that the place had to be evacuated!

Our first gig ended after 4 bars of Smoke on the water with the fire brigade and 60 kids stood outside the church hall waiting in the cold to be allowed back in again.

We learned.

No more smoke bombs.

Discipline and Routine

I am a man who likes routine. I have to admit that, though this may make me dull and boring and isn’t necessarily an Aquarian trait, I like routine. What I mean is that I like a schedule. Change is inevitable but lack of routine creates anxiety in me….Sticking to a routine requires discipline. Just recently, I don’t appear capable of that self-discipline. The result is that I become a mess of anxiety that achieves less, does nothing and, since this becomes an endless cycle, I will eventually disappear up my own arse I am sure.

Part of the problem is that I am sick and cannot muster the energy to apply the self-discipline. I have finally given up on the ginger, lemon and honey teas, disgusting-colored fruit and vegie smoothies and C and ZN regimen. I have made an appointment with a doctor and fully expect to blow away all my good work with a course of antibiotics…. Course, when I say given up I don’t mean I have stopped with the good habits just that I have finally come to the conclusion that this alone is actually insufficient to solve the problem.

disc

Next, I was mid-trying to start a new routine. I had bought an exercise bike and, for the first time in my lazy and sport-avoiding life, I was on it twice a day for 20 minutes each. After two-weeks of this, I was losing weight and beginning to feel – well – quite good actually. Course, I have had to drop this, for now, as it seems to actually encourage those bloody bacteria, or whatever, that have cheekily invaded my body.

More than that, I am working at home and I just find time flies. I feel guilty taking 15-minutes for lunch for some reason, but I also seem to have so much more to do. Suddenly, I am letting the dog out 3-4 times per day, doing the washing, hanging the clothes etc. These domestic activities might not take long but somehow, they break up the day in such a way as to make it seem to go super fast!

OK, OK, Maybe this is all just a bunch of excuses – I have no discipline…..I need to re-discipline myself and establish a new routine. It’s not so difficult now is it?

Peering at the World Through A Haze

Pretty much all week and through the weekend I have been seeing the world through the haze of a severe head cold. As a result, I have been trying to avoid doing any writing as I can’t think straight. Even today, I am still riddled with this dreadful cold virus thingy. Instead of writing then I decided to do some promoting. Always a good thing to do if you write as otherwise you write for no reason as no one reads your stuff! I decided to promote my poetry for a change and I made Astral Messages and Weird Tales free for the weekend on Kindle. Said promo ends at midnight tonight so you STILL HAVE A CHANCE! As of last looking, over 150 copies of Astral Messages had been downloaded – pretty staggering. I just hope people read it, like it, review and it and then come back and buy something else……

I also spend quite a lot of time updating the books page on this blog….

To be honest, I am really so wanting to see my novel take off. The Last Observer has had almost 99% wonderful reviews and it has been promoted – it is mentioned all over the internet. It is selling but not the way I had hoped. I really don’t know how to promote it much anymore – I mean, great reviews, its everywhere, amazon have promoted it…..I guess I will try to do something for the Christmas season…. Ideas though always welcome. Please, do tell people about the book. It is all about word of mouth in the end….

mist19

Of course, Inner Journeys and The Mystical Hexagram shouldn’t be forgotten either. In both cases, a KINDLE version has been made recently available. I can’t say I have been knocked down by the rush to grab the Kindle versions but a few people have bought them and that’s just great.

Meanwhile, I just hope that soon my head will return to normality and I can start writing again – The Lord of the Elements was coming along quite nicely….

Thanks all for stopping by……. Best wishes to you all.

The Eagle’s Saga

eagle

Soaring up high
Flying oblivious
Eros aims and let’s fl y
The arrow finds its mark
Straight through my heart

dead eagle

Dying, I fall
In pain and in shock
Why me and why now?
How much does my red
blood run
Falling away from the light
of the sun

Perhaps better
To die falling from glory
Discovering I am yet a fool
Than betray myself to fate
Hurting kin and life mate

What can I say?
One who thought love
Would never again
Deem to show me a glimpse
Of her beautiful face

Venus_botticelli_detail

The smell of her skin
The feel of her touch
The lilt of her voice
The look in her eyes
What is between us?

The vengeful fates cackle
While spinning their eternal web
Objective achieved
The plot in place
They watch and wait

The tinder was dry
As the flame sprang to life
Angry and bright
Bringing forth such energy
Disrupting flight

Fire can destroy
But can also cleanse
So many questions
But no chance to ask
Unresolved and unfulfilled

fates

The Eagle’s glory
Is falling away
The wings flutter
It makes a last sound
Of pain as it hits the ground

Originally published in Weird Tales by Dr. G. Michael Vasey