Tag Archives: Tsarina

If the cap fits

Finally, after extensive field trials and a no little personal hardship and expense I am finally able to announce to a waiting world the results of my labours.

Lesser men would have cavilled at the cost, never mind the loss of personal dignity. But for those of us born to explore the outermost fringes of mens fashion, this is of little import.

 

Yes, I have finally finished by comparison of the ‘baseball cap’ and the ‘flat cap’. Obviously the learned paper I am about to submit to the appropriate academic institution will be mulled over for some months, and I feel an increasingly excited world cannot wait that long, so I will present you a summary.

 

In effect, the baseball cap is superior in conditions of bright sunlight, as the longer peak shades the eyes. The flat cap is perhaps not as good in these circumstances.

 Image

 

The baseball cap is also superior in that it offers considerably more marketing opportunities.

 

ImageImage

 

But when worn during strong winds, the flat cap is far less likely to blow off and is generally warmer.

It also is a more flexible working tool; a leather patch sewn to the top not only makes it waterproof but means that you can use the cap as an impromptu glove or oven-mitt for removing hot dishes from the cooker, or hot irons from the fire prior to placing them on the anvil.

All in all, I would suggest that for the truly practical man, the flat cap is probably the answer. 

Yeah well.

Life is, apparently, a gas, but I just wish it wasn’t hurting my shoulders so much at the moment. But then I’m getting ahead of myself.

This week has been an interesting week, on Tuesday, youngest daughter and I had a trip up Coniston Old Man in glorious weather, cracking afternoon.

Wednesday I’m in hospital having my gallbladder out by keyhole surgery. I finally get out of Furness General Hospital at about twenty to ten at night (they insist you can walk, pee and generally look after yourself before letting you go which is fine by me), got home and got to bed.

Now I expected pain and discomfort from where they’d cut me open, but apparently when doing keyhole surgery they put Carbon Dioxide into you and this leaks everywhere, and eventually before it dissipates it can collect at your shoulders where it gives you jip!

It feels a bit like having a pulled muscle.

Only in both shoulders simultaneously.                             

Anyway I’m currently not up to doing much, sitting at the computer is sort of bearable for a while but frankly I’m more comfortable sitting in an armchair reading.

But with one thing and another my concentration isn’t perhaps what it should be, so I put aside those books that were worthy or interesting and looked round for something to read. Then I found it, Jack Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy. I bought the first volume in 1984!

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0575090243/

(the three books in one volume, go on, you know you want to)

Soon I’m lost in the story and there’s still another two chunky volumes to go.

And for me this is what books are about. This is great writing. Forget the highfalutin literature; just give me a damned good book.

 

So if anybody asks me what I want to write, this sums it up. If in ten years time somebody goes into hospital or whatever, then I’d be chuffed if when they pack their bag they put into it the well thumbed copies of Justice 4.1 and its sequels. (Or make sure they’re on their kindle/nook/e-reader of choice) Not because it’s what you ‘ought’ to read, or what you ‘should be seen reading’ but because that’s what they want to read because they know it’ll lift them out of the uncomfortable ‘now’, then I’ll call myself a writer.

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-4-1-Tsarina-Sector-Webster-ebook/dp/B00IPTBEQW/ 

Me, I’m going back to my armchair.

Crime doesn’t pay, but at least you’re your own boss.

It’s a little known fact that the fall in the number of pirates has increased Global Warming. The statistics are there for the world to see; but ‘they’ didn’t want you to find out.

Indeed when you look at the graph it stops in 2000. That being said, you can see why we’ve got this sudden plateau in the rising temperatures which has lasted for much of the last ten years. It’s the effect of those gallant Somalis whose piratical activities have managed to help restore the global balance. This slight increase in piratical activity has obviously been just enough.

 

 Image

 

This came to mind because it’s just been announced that there’s been a fall in the amount of violent crime in the UK. That’s good but we have to ask why. There’s all sorts of answers, three of the more interesting ones I heard given on the radio were

 

  • The fact we’re generally nicer people than our ancestors
  • The fact we’re too poor to go binge drinking any more
  • The fact that there’s no lead in petrol

Who knows; but one very interesting comment made was that these figures came from A&E departments in hospitals, they weren’t from crime surveys. If this tells us anything, it is that nobody believes police or government crime statistics any more.

Given the way figures have been ‘manipulated’ by the last two governments it may be that the main growth area for crime is in deceiving the electorate. The problem is that we’ve grown too used to being lied to by politicians and civil servants.

 Image

 

So what are we going to do about it?
Well I decided that I couldn’t do a lot about politicians yet, but instead I’ll do my bit to help curb global warming. If you buy Justice 4.1 (The Tsarina Sector), that much acclaimed tale of law, order, major criminality and space piracy; you too can do your bit to help push up the amount of piracy and help keep temperatures under control. You know it makes sense; we cannot leave it all to the Somalis. 

 

The series is competed, the Tsarina Sector is out there for your delectation and delight

Funny old world

First you write a book, and then you try to sell it. In the case of ‘Justice 4.1’ I went to the extent of creating a Facebook page for it!

The Problem is, whilst I know what happens on Tsarina, it’s a beggar of a place to get photos from.

And not just photos, we want interest, we want glamour.

And then I came across the two ladies who make up Gentian. So I said to them, “How would you like to play Padro’s on Tsarina.”

Both DD and her sister Jingle are good sports and thought it would be a fun idea. Thus and so they appeared here

Since then people have asked me about them and I thought it was only courteous to give people some idea of what has been going on in their lives.

Personally I’d like to thank them, it’s great when we can work together to try and let people out there know what we’re up to.

 

So first, Jingle, she’s a musician so try and imagine this bit being sung rather than just reading it.

 

So Gentian has been a bit busy!!

After our success at Padro’s, we have been interviewed by many Radio Stations and people, We have begun working with 4 other artistes on collaborations, whilst working on a new song ourselves.

We have been trying our hand at co-presenting, something we thoroughly enjoyed, also we have been added to stations and venues across the country and are looking forward to the coming summer as we have festivals and appearances to make.

Our music is travelling fast around the area, sometimes we get our song played and we are talked about without our knowledge, that is one of the best feelings, we are very happy.

We will be realising our New song in the next month or two, then we will be starting on a video to accompany it. That’s a few busy weeks ahead, but we are looking forward to it, and we would like to thank everyone for their support of Gentian.  

 

So really you want to click on this link, listen to the music and read the next bit

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wOBfus1JPY&list=UUqOlxvwxkq1alBuI1sLlHPA 

 

 

 

This bit’s by DD, but she’s the writer and thinks to tell you that sort of thing. Anyway I’ll stop whittering and pass you over to the lady in question.

 

 

Hello everyone, my name’s DeeDee and I’m one half of Gentian, the band mentioned above. I’m also D.D. Chant: I claim to be a writer but the jury is still out on that point! This February I released my 4th novel, Broken Truce, the second book in my Broken City series, to mass hysteria.

 

Seriously, you should have seen me!!!

 

Jim has very kindly invited me to be featured on his blog and tell you all about it! (So you can blame him for all that follows!!!)

 

The Broken City series is set in a future, broken world. The first story (Broken City)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-City-D-D-Chant-ebook/dp/B005GHMH8A/

introduces us to Deeta Richards, a young woman born into a dangerous time where civilisation has ground to a halt and society huddles together in small pockets of isolation. Deeta has never seen the City outside her building and she never expects to, a situation she wishes she could rebel against. Her only link to the world outside her sheltered life is Tom, her best friend and one of the few members of the tribe who are allowed to leave the building. Tom has always looked out for her and she trusts him completely, but Tom is hiding a very big secret, one that tears her world apart…

 

Interested???

 

(Please say yes!!!)

 

Broken Truce picks up a year after the events of the first book and we find that all is not well in Deeta’s world. The truce between the tribes is crumbling, the Lewises are encroaching further in to the City and Deeta is finding it hard to adjust to life within the Andak compound.

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Truce-City-D-D-Chant-ebook/dp/B00I6HXH3Q/

Broken Truce is the first sequel I’ve ever written and I have to admit that I was a little nervous. I had lots of worries:

 

Would I be able to recreate the same ‘feel’ as the first book?

Would Deeta’s narration ‘sound’ the same?

Would the characters be the same, or would I not be able to put them across the way I had in the first book?

 

On the other hand there were a lot of things I was really looking forward to:

 

Revisiting Deeta and all the characters in the first book to tell more of their story.

Bringing some of the secondary characters to the forefront of the story.

Introducing new characters.

Weaving new storylines in with the old.

 

And so I began and (this is going to sound weird!) I immediately heard Deeta’s voice in my head.

I loved every minute of writing Broken Truce. I had a very good idea of how I wanted the story to progress, the new characters I wanted to introduce and their back stories. Yet at the same time I was surprised by some of the twists and turns the story took.

 

I loved writing about Linus, Max and Neddie. They have a very complex and multi layered relationship and I adored the dynamic friendship and loyalty that is between them. I also love how differently they react to Tom and how Tom handles their reception of him.

 

I think you get to know Tom a lot better in this book. 90% of Broken City is narrated by Deeta and so you don’t get to see much of Tom in action. I made the decision to have the story follow Tom and Deeta equally in the second book, but Tom’s chapters remain in the third person.

 

I have several reasons for deciding to write all the chapters that don’t feature Deeta, in the third person. When you read Broken City Deeta talks to you, it’s like reading her diary, being her confidant. You really get to know her, feel her every fear, hope and excitement. I wanted Deeta to be the readers load stone; she hides nothing from the reader and so the reader can rely on her narration as being the truth as she sees it.

I wanted the reader to feel the deepest connection to her, but to read the other characters from a more subjective perspective. I wanted the reader to get to know Tom, Ryder, Jayden, Cayden, Orin and Ricky better, but I wanted them to retain some of their mystery.

 

Deeta is a very sheltered character in the first book and although she becomes more savvy in the second book she still has the warmth and kindness that separates her from everyone else. Deeta believes in people, she trusts them, wants to help them, wants a happy ending for everyone.

 

Tom’s a good man, but he’s lived too long in the City to still have that softness. He doesn’t trust easily, he doesn’t believe in people any more and it’s only since he found Deeta that he has a tentative belief in happy endings. I wanted the reader to see the ugliness along with the hope and I wanted them to question his actions and beliefs. Yes, Tom is a good man trying to protect those he loves, but are there some things that shouldn’t be done in any circumstances?

 

I also had fun with Tom’s brothers, particularly Orin, Jayden and Cayden.

Orin is a difficult character, he’s reasonable but hard to like. To him the most important thing is the Andak tribe’s safety and he is will to go to any lengths to protect that.

 

The twins Cayden and Jayden are very interesting to write. Jayden, the younger, the ladies man who loves his comfort, has rarely left the walls of Andak city and doesn’t really want to. He has no interest in the politics of his tribe or the tribes out in the City, in fact he would prefer to leave the tribes to themselves and doesn’t like the City. He is a gifted engineer but is constantly eclipsed by older twin, Cayden. He’s fiercely loyal to Cayden and the joke among the brothers is that he will back Cayden up with every ounce of his being even when he doesn’t agree with him.

 

Cayden is a genius, but he’s also a victim of his own success. The Andak compound cannot function efficiently without him and everyone is afraid of losing his expertise. He’s a glorified prisoner and unlike his twin he hates it. Cayden wants adventure; the world outside the compound intrigues him as strongly as it repels Jayden. He is opinionated and is politically very vocal, though he accepts that Tom and Ryder know more about how the outside world is run than he does. He’s an interesting mix of arrogance and compassion; he wants to do the right thing… he’s just confused as to what the right thing is.

 

I’m hoping to start book three very soon, I have it all planned out and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Deeta and the gang get up to next. One thing I can be sure of is that they’ll have a lot of surprises for me!

 

A huge thanks to Jim for letting me take over his blog; I’ve tried not to leave too much mess behind!!!

 

D.D. Chant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Jim,

I’ve added an excerpt just in case you want to use it, I wasn’t sure how much material you wanted! No need to put it up if you think my rambling is the right sort of length. Thanks again!

 

DeeDee.  ;-D

 

[Comment from Jim here, the universe has an almost infinite number of electrons, so it isn’t as if I’m short of room on the page, so here’s the excerpt.]

 

 

Broken Truce (Broken City, #2)

 

Excerpt

 

The keys jangle in the lock and the soldier pulls the door open, his grin displaying gaps where his two front teeth should have been.

“Well come on, stop hiding in the shadows, no need to be scared of me.”

Tom doesn’t answer him but walks past him and in to the room beyond. Presented with Tom’s back the soldier seems to lose what little sense he has, he launches himself at Tom. Tom twists away from him, catching his collar as he passes and ramming him in to the opposite wall.

A dull crack fills the room as the soldier’s head connects with stone work, he collapses, sinking to his knees and groaning. With a sharp expletive, the second soldier comes at Tom slowly, very cautiously.

They circle each other measuringly, looking for weaknesses, for any opening. This soldier is younger than the first, not so beefy, but still strong. He holds back, studying Tom even as Tom studies him.

He’s better trained, Tom realises, not the mindless thug that usually passed for a Lewis soldier. This man had been taught caution, to think three moves ahead of his opponent. This man was dangerous, but he used his brain, so maybe there was a chance that he could be reasoned with.

“We don’t have to do this.” Tom holds his hands up, palms outward. “I’ll go back into my cell and we can forget this happened.”

The soldier smiles menacingly.

“You’d love that, wouldn’t you; to get your own way here, just like you do in the City.”

His left hand falls to his waist and he pulls free a six inch long blade. One edge is curved down into a point, the other carved into jagged notches that gleam in the artificial light. Tom’s face loses all expression, his hands curl into fists and he raises them slightly.

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“What’s wrong?” spits the soldier tauntingly. “Are you scared?”

Tom’s eyes never waver from the face, filled with fury, before him.

“You fight with fists the worst you’re going to get is some bruises, maybe a few broken bones, but you had to go and pull and knife. One of us is going to end this bleeding.” Tom’s voice drops, his tone blank. “It won’t be me.”

The soldier laughs, an angry, mocking sound.

“Arrogant son of a…”

Before the soldier can say another word, Tom’s fist crashes into his mouth silencing him abruptly. He staggers back, eyes dilated in shock.

“If you want to make it out of this fight alive, I suggest you leave my mother out of this.”

“You crazy bas…”

Tom’s eyes snap coldly.

“I mean it; you’ll leave my mother out of this if you want to continue breathing.”

With a quick thrust, the soldier slashes his knife through the air. Tom jerks back and pivots, catching hold of his knife arm. They sway together dangerously, crashing into chairs and the table.

It isn’t a pretty fight, there’s no time to do anything but react, and more than once Tom finds himself deflecting the blade at the last possible second. They struggle together a little longer, beginning to pant as their exertion slows them down a little.

Tom reflects grimly that if he wasn’t being so careful about hurting the guy, he would have finished him already. He couldn’t cause the brute too much damage, it would only mean more trouble in the long run, more of these pointless, posturing fights.

Tom knew if he gave in to his desire to have it over and done with quickly, it would become a point of honour, and the rest of the soldiers would consider it their duty to grind the prisoner into the ground. That was the last think he needed, he had enough to worry about without taking gladiatorial events in to account.

Ned’s voice interrupted his thoughts, calling out a frantic warning and Tom turned just in time to see the first solder, recovered from his close inspection of the wall, baring down on him with a chair levelled at his head.

Tom has no time to avoid the blow, but raises his arm slightly to deflect it from his head to his right shoulder. The force sends him reeling backward, clutching at his arm. The first soldier stands, the chair now a splintered wreck in his hands, and glares Ned.

“You warned him.” His voice is filled with shock.

Ned’s eyes widened in fear, and his mouth opens and closes a few times without any sound coming out.

“What’s wrong with you, shrimp?” The furious soldier advances on the boy slowly. “Forgotten whose side you’re on, have you?”

Ned backed away nervously, his hands rising in a pleading gesture.

“C-captain Max said…”

“Captain Max said,” mimics the soldier. “Take a look around you, shrimp: Captain Max isn’t here.”

He makes a lunge for the boy, catching him by the collar, but Ned manages to twist away. He skids across the floor to stand beside Tom, his retreat only making the two soldiers angrier. With a deft flick of his wrist, the second soldier throws his knife and Ned closes his eyes, bracing himself for the pain of impact.

The moments pass and the boy prises one eye open.

Tom’s arm is stretched out in front of him, on a level with Ned’s throat. The knife is buried deep in his forearm, blood beginning to ooze from wound to drip on the floor. The room is silent, Ned’s horrified gaze transfers from the gruesome sight of the blade protruding from Tom’s arm, to Tom’s white face and icy expression. He coldly appraises the men before him, and the two soldiers expressions fill with horror and fear.

 

Who wants sexy check-out girls anyway?

‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Yes, I wish to register a complaint. Someone out there is taking the micky. It’s like this. You’ll probably have worked out by now that I’ve written ‘Justice 4.1’ which is out in March. But it doesn’t stop there. I’m working on further books in the same setting. Indeed if you want to visit the Tsarina sector there’s even a facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/TsarinaSector

So wander along, click the ‘like’ button and bring a little sunshine into my life.

But the problem is I’m currently trying to create a decent villain who does unpleasant things. Not only that but I’m trying to portray the unpleasant and dysfunctional societies that he dominates.
‘Fair enough,’ I hear you all mutter, ‘Stop whinging and get on with it.’
The problem is that no sooner do I get a really cool, evil and devious idea for my villain, than along comes the real world, sneers at me and points out that reality has already surpassed me.
I was setting up a background where there population would be oppressed and kept in poverty by those employing them. I was a bit worried that I might be getting carried away. After all, when you’re writing fiction you have to make sure you carry the reader with you. They have to suspend their disbelief which means you have to keep things ‘real’.
And then I saw this.
http://www.upworthy.com/that-one-time-when-a-company-with-a-gajillion-dollars-tried-collecting-food-donations-for-its-staff-6?g=2&c=ufb1

Sorry but that is beyond a joke! I literally dare not make that up. Yet somebody sat in an office and decided to make that company policy!

Mind you, the great Terry Pratchett once wrote “There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.” (Small Gods)
But do we care? Will enough people be so revolted that they stop shopping in Walmart and Asda?
Why do you think I put ‘sexy checkout girls’ in the title? How many people would have bothered reading a rant about supermarket employment policies?

Fabulous free holiday

Excursion, n ; An expedition of so disagreeable a character that steamboat and railroad fares are compassionately mitigated to the miserable sufferers.
(Ambrose Bierce.)

Everyone needs a gimmick and to sell a book I decided on a fabulous holiday competition. Other people give away bookmarks or free copies of the book or even signed free copies of the bookmark. I would go one step further. For everyone who buys a copy of Justice 4.1 (The Tsarina Sector) and turns up at the check-in desk at the Kaunas City Spaceport, Tsarina, will get a two week, free, all expenses paid holiday for two on Tsarina.
Cannot say fairer than that surely?

The problem is, whilst everyone is doubtless convinced that the book will be a true classic of its genre; folk asked difficult questions about the holiday, along the lines of what is the place like, what factor sun-block will I need; is there a nudity taboo which might impact on the beach holiday they have planned?

Now Haldar Drom is as nice a guy as you’ll meet but he’s a bit slow at getting back to me so I started pirating pictures off the web.
So obviously we need a spaceport. Where do I find a picture of a spaceport? After hunting round I found this and posted it to Facebook.

Spaceport

But I wanted to somehow make it unique to Tsarina so I added the comment
“So I’ve included an artist’s impression of the Spaceport. It’s been lying about in the files for a few centuries to be honest. Not only that but we never had the budget to build it as designed but the picture gives you some idea. Just replace the domed structures with an assemblage of converted transport containers, pre-fabricated industrial units and a couple of obsolete spaceship hulls which were too good to scrap completely. (Strip the drives out of them, leave in the power systems and they make perfectly acceptable office accommodation.)
Oh yes and the grass is greener and more verdant than in the picture. Apparently the artist was from off-world and never got to terms with our climate. (Or the geography for that matter, he’s completely forgotten to put in the river.)
And it’s still possible to land here without getting eaten by the natives.”

This only brought forth more comments. What does the place actually look like? So frantically I scoured the web again. I found this one, I liked it.

ad hoc offices

Actually I’d have liked it in real life because of the ingenuity, but it’s a very practical combination of shipping containers and a covered working area. So it’s there on the spaceport somewhere.
People commented that are site was rather more run down that I was claiming, so honesty compelled me to post this, an atmospheric shot of the breakers yard which is on the periphery of the spaceport.

ad hoc offices 3

Finally because Tsarina has seen better days, there is part of the spaceport which is no longer used much, and is sliding into dereliction. I found this…

ad hoc offices 2

Now then, in the second book, (about to go to the editors) Haldar takes a trip to the spaceport by river taxi and I describe the fishing village which is growing out of a decaying industrial suburb. Whilst I was looking for other stuff I found this.

sudan_slums

And then Susan Watson posted this picture, asking why I was covering up Tsarina’s less attractive face

the-road-desolation1

So I looked at the picture and liked it. I could work with that, so I merely commented
“I don’t think it shows the place in the best light. The old power station isn’t normally that bad but there’s too much Lignite available close to the site to ignore, and it does date from the messy period during the fall of the Salinid Emperors. We had to keep the lights on somehow. It’s wearing well for 350 years old. It’s actually some distance south of the Spaceport and you cannot normally see it from Kaunas City. The old access road has been scrapped since the winter that was taken; it had outlived its usefulness.”

And by chance, by design and by the suggestions of friends, Tsarina keeps growing. The background has now acquired a Lignite fired power station which will inevitably warrant a passing mention in a future book, if only because the smoke might delay flights, or alternatively act as a marker, more visible from orbit than the space port itself.

♥♥♥♥

As a reviewer commented, “Having read many of Jim Webster’s Historical Fantasy books, I looked forward to seeing what he would do with a Science Fiction story.
I was not disappointed.
Webster’s trademark style of weaving the main storyline with several, seemingly unrelated sub-plots was in evidence throughout, all of which are neatly brought together in an unexpected, but satisfactory, finale.”

Now all four books of the Tsarina Sector are available

Stranger than fiction, or just strange?

As the boy confessed when caught peering over the partition into the girls section of the showers; “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

The problem for most of us is that we’re trapped in the shadow of the giants. Not only do we not share their vision, but we’ve not even got the initiative to step out into the sunlight that is there for us, had we only got the courage to shift.
The last couple of days have been a quietly thought provoking time. Remembrance Sunday has gone, and on it I managed to finish reading the new Terry Pratchett, ‘Raising Steam.’ Brilliant book but reading it is not an entirely unalloyed pleasure. You see I am not without my literary pretensions. If you click on the ‘About’ link on the red bar above you’ll see the fantasy books I’ve written. I’ve even got a Sci Fi book coming out in paper back this coming March
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-4-1-Tsarina-Sector-Webster/dp/1908208236/

Hence I was seriously chuffed when someone told me my books reminded them a lot of Jack Vance and Terry Pratchett. It’s nice to think I’m good enough to remind people of the greats, but it does keep me in my place.
So I sat down to read the latest book by the master

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Raising-Steam-Discworld-novel-Novels/dp/0857522272/

And for me, he did it again. Engineering and Steam hit Discworld. But it is so much more than that. He hasn’t merely written a book which is both a good read and amusing in places, page turning in others, he’s shone a light back into our world.
In this book he manages to shine a light into the dark places of religious fanaticism and the use of terror, as well as to get the feel of ‘The Age of Steam’. And the problem is, as he gently looks at the magic of the railway and the nature of the world the railways made, he somehow sets our own world in stark relief.
A century and a half ago we were a people who could build things, who could dream and hammer the dreams into shape with steel, brass and steam. Now we’re just a people who, if they want to make money, rip each other off with financial services scams, wheel clamping schemes, and now the latest is the car parking protection rackets.
We’ve seen the giants, and now we are the pygmies trapped in their shade.

Now, even having literary pretensions isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, reality ends up being more fantastic that anything a writer feels they can create. I went to a meeting locally. A local store, The Range, has got a car park for customers. They’ve handed over the management to Parking Eye who monitor it and ‘police’ it. Now, if you go to the store and buy something, that’s fine, you’ve got two hours to park or else they’ll give you a ticket. But if you buy something, go home, and find that you’ve misjudged the quantities and need more, there’s no return within three hours or you’ll get a penalty charge notice!
Even more strange, if you’re keen to buy something, and turn up before the shop opens, that too earns you a penalty charge notice.

Sorry, but don’t they want our custom? Aren’t they trying to sell us stuff or is the margin on car parking fines better than the margin on actually selling stuff? Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

I’m left hoping that Terry Pratchett is fit enough for a few more books; he mentioned wheel clampers in ‘Raising Steam’, perhaps he can throw so light on car parking charges in his next. After all, I think he’s the only person with the imagination to come up with something more surreal than the reality.

Einstein parking eye

Sex, drugs, rock and roll; (and cute cat pictures.)

Very-cute-cat-position

 

It was Samuel Johnson who said “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”
He also said “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” and I have tried to follow his guidance in this matter.
I once got the job of writing up the annual article in one local paper on what the local authorities in the county had been doing in the way of development within the county. A topic so tedious and worthy that they always hired in a freelancer to do it. I wasn’t complaining, it fed us for a fortnight. Two thirds of the way through I dropped in a couple of dry asides on the general tedium of the subject and the sorry nature of the freelancer’s lot. I got an email from the editor, who proudly announced he’d noticed them and after mature consideration had left them in.
But now where does the hack writer turn for gainful employment, where will his work be most sought after? Just look on Facebook at some of the beautifully scripted stuff which circulates.
Imagine, you’re running a charity that wants to raise its profile but cannot afford to hire a firm of chuggers to mug their way into the newspaper headlines? Then hire a decent writer to produce for you the sort of story that will beguile the tears from the most stony hearted and you’re half way there.
But only half way; we’ve become far more ‘visually orientated’ than our parents generation. Now there has to be pictures as well.
Currently like a lot of people who blog I’m trying to sell something. I’m not too fussed about pushing a political philosophy or this weeks ‘must have’ brand of cosmetics, I’m just trying to sell my books.
But there are millions of blogs and books out there. Everyone and their dog are at it, and thanks to Facebook the dog’s probably got the edge provided he can get someone else to take the pictures.
So we wannabe celebrated authors have to be really tricksie. We’ve got to somehow grab your attention and to lure you in, to get you to at least look at the stuff we’re trying to sell.
Now then, the web is a wonderful tool for collecting feedback. Not only do I know what blog posts I’ve written, WordPress will tell me how many people read each blog and even what countries my readers come from. What is interesting is the difference between what I think is good and what people actually hunt down and read. So I may stick a post up on my blog and think to myself as I do so, “Now that’s a nice piece of work” only to discover that it’s read by a mere handful of people.
Just for the record the best read piece was ‘Horse Burgers and Hypocrisy.’ It was followed very closely and will doubtless be overtaken by ‘Marks and Spencer knicker adverts.’ It has to be said that ‘Four lesbians in a fast car’ is also climbing the charts steadily. Yet ‘A traveller in search of the exotic,’ which I thought rather good; is pretty well nowhere.
Yep, we want sex, drugs and ‘rock and roll’.

When the process of telling the world about the forthcoming release of the latest book, Justice 4.1
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-4-1-Tsarina-Sector-Webster/dp/1908208236/

got serious the book got its own page on Facebook. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/TsarinaSector?ref=hl if you’re interested. In fact if you want to click the ‘like’ button while you’re there feel free, it gives me a transitory moment of pleasure and costs nothing.

But there’s no point in having a page with nothing on it, so the page has to be kept ‘new’ and ‘interesting’ so I’ve got to keep posting stuff. Of course this is on the web and therefore I get stats. I know how many people look at each post.
And what do I discover? That if the post is just words, a handful of people look at it, but if I include a picture, then the number of people who look at it increases massively. So I’m no mug, I need pictures.
Yet here we hit a problem. Tsarina is a long way away and in our future. Haldar Drom is an obliging sort of chap but even he struggles to get the pictures back through space and time. So what to do? Given that one underlying theme of the book is piracy; there is a certain irony that I’ve taken to ransacking the web for pictures to help promote the book.

To an extent there are openings here for us to help each other. Artists who have work that is sort of suitable and don’t mind it being hijacked (and credited) can get themselves more widely known and shared as they get incidentally promoted by the author, whose book is also incidentally promoted by the artist. We could take this sort of thing further. In Justice 4.1 I mention in passing the sultry chanteuse, Dwine Tillanvor and the song she made famous, ‘Dreams of Ancient Earth.’ If we have a chanteuse out there willing to sing such a song I’m not too proud to promote her video. Indeed I’m probably not too proud to edit the manuscript and change the name of the song.

One thing Facebook has taught me is that as a society we’ve moved beyond being happy to just read the words. We demand the titillation of pictures to attract our attention. What am I doing about it?
Well I’ve finally managed to work in a ‘cute cat’ picture as well. Shame? Me? In this matter I have none……….