Am I Going Crazy, or Is It The Rest of The World?

Let’s just take a few examples from BBC News today the 6th April 2016 and my comments on them.

WHO says that now 1 in 11 people have diabetes – mainly due to poor lifestyles (Too much sugar, overeating, lack of exercise, etc.).

If it is self-inflicted – why should society pay for treatment or cure? 

The Governor of Mississippi has signed a law that allows people to decline to serve homosexual couples based on religious beliefs.

Why not a law that allows a person to decline service because of a client’s looks, skin colour, political convictions – in fact, anything? Why the hell do governments, whether local, state or national, get involved in people’s private affairs? What business is it of theirs who loves and lives with whom, who they worship, who they marry or how many they marry? One big problem today is how governments want to control every little detail of the private life of their citizens. Maybe the Governor of Mississippi could sign a law making it legal for people to decline to serve politicians.

I’d drink to that.

David Cameron’s father had an offshore investment fund.

Good for him! Any legal way of avoiding paying taxes you don’t have to pay will get my vote. Maybe people are jealous because they didn’t think about it.

Actually, when you consider the ways in which Governments in Europe and America waste their taxpayer’s money, I’m surprised more people don’t move their savings offshore.  

A question: If the government was a business and issued a share offer on the stock market, would you invest in it?

I certainly wouldn’t.

Advertisements

Europe’s Lack of Growth – Help the Majority

Today I heard a European politician advising that Europe needs more Financial growth.

Easy: remove some of the taxes and ridiculous bureaucracy that every small business has to deal with.

I own a small business and, because of stupid bureaucratic laws might have to close, or at least, move to another place. Cost to me:€3000.

Cost to the state if I close: €640 per month Social Security, plus the taxes I pay, plus all the money the business spends with the local shopkeepers it deals with. Probably more than €1500 a month.

The general idea is, in a Democracy, ‘The Greatest Good of the Greatest Number’ isn’t it?

I think politicians should rethink their priorities before being persuaded to pass laws in favour of minority groups. These cost a lot of money to those people who actually generate the wealth of a country: the small businessman.

If the politicians want access to all businesses by people in wheelchairs, great – but the Government pays!

If they want to help people who have just come out of prison, are addicts, and have AIDS start a business – fantastic – but give ordinary people the same, or better terms!

On whom does the country actually depend? Normal citizens who pay their taxes.

So help the MAJORITY – not minorities.

 

 

Why Should e-books be Free?

I’ve just published ‘Legacy‘, the fourth book in my series, ‘The Chronicles of the White Tower’. It runs to some 138,000+ words and took me more than five years to write, plus hours spent attempting to proofread and edit it.

So now comes the promoting of the novel.

There are many sites that will give a writer some free publicity. Some are very good, others not so fantastic, but what characterises most of them is that they will only do it for e- books which are heavily discounted, or free.

I’ve even downloaded some of these myself and found that the majority were badly proofed, horribly edited and terribly written in the first place. However a few, only a few, were well worth reading as the author had obviously taken care of his grammar and writing style, and had also taken the time to make certain the final result was readable.

So the question, why should the work of such an author remain unpaid?

I know writers get a kick out of other people reading and enjoying their work. I certainly do. There’s nothing nicer than receiving an e-mail from someone you’ve never met who  praises your efforts and ends by saying; ‘I loved it. Write more.’

Well, that is not quite true.

What every writer really appreciates is not only praise, but a nice fat cheque as well!

So I price my books at, I believe, a fair level. All my e-books are less that $5 (just) and the paperback versions are between $18:00 and $28:00.

Payment for work done is normal in a civilised society. We all need to pay the rent or mortgage, eat,  have a drink or two, heat the house in winter and cool it in summer, get gas for the car and have enough money left for the telephone, internet connection and, of course, have sufficient in our pockets to be able to reply to the question; ‘Can I have twenty bucks for a movie, Dad (or Mum)?’

Why should writers work for nothing?

My web page is: http://www.markpatrick.net,  Twitter  @MarkPAuthor

 

 

Legacy – The New Novel of the Series – The Chronicles of the White Tower

By the 15th March 2016 I should, with any luck, publish ‘Legacy’, the fourth book of the series, the Chronicles of the White Tower.

This book is different from the others in the series as it takes place both in the modern world, and in medieval times. In fact ‘Legacy’, the following book ‘The Summoning’ and the next which has the working title ‘Time Meld’, make up a trilogy within the main series.

I am not the only writer to do this. Anne McCaffrey did this in her series about the planet Pern with the three books: ‘Dragonsong’, ‘Dragon Singer’ and ‘Dragon Drums’.

‘Legacy’ is a long book – some 138,000 words and has taken me some time to write – in total, nearly five years, although I was also doing other things during this time. I am about halfway through ‘The Summoning’ and it has reached 90,000 words already.

However, you cannot judge a book by its length – although some people seem to: ‘long’ is not synonymous to ‘good’. In some cases it could be a synonym of ‘boring’.

If you want a preview of the book, go to www.markpatrick.net/legacy where you can read the first three chapters.

Publishing a book is, I assume, giving birth to a child – a lot of pain and tears, but you love it when it’s all over.

I hope you like it.

Things Have Come to a Pretty Pass

As Ira Gershwin wrote in the verse of ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ – Things have come to a pretty pass here in Spain.

The political situation is – well the best word might be ‘fluid’, and economically, the general populace is doing pretty badly – mainly due to short-sighted politicians who are more intent on fulfilling their own ideological ambitions, than helping their country.

For example, it is probably no longer viable to start a small business in Spain. I have seen small shops open, and within six months, they close. The same with other businesses. It’s certainly true that my own business here, which I started a little over two years ago is still limping along – and that might be stating the situation over-generously.

The biggest problem is the excessive Social Security payments demanded both for the self-employed and employed workers. A person starting a business is charged €319 monthly, as a self-employed worker, from day one. Add to that lawyer’s fees, rent, electricity, phone, internet connection, water (at commercial rates), and payments to the local, and regional authorities for permissions and permits, and you wonder why anyone even attempts to start a business.

I know that I ask myself that very same question when doing my monthly accounts and find I’ve made a profit of less than €100, and that’s working from 9:00 am to 10:30 pm (or later) every day except Sundays.

The politicians, who, of course, enjoy reasonable salaries and inflation proof pensions, don’t seem to understand what running a small business is all about. They can’t – they have probably never done it.

But that doesn’t stop them complaining about unemployment (20%+), especially among the youth (27%+ depending on region – here in Cadiz it’s nearer 60%)

How can a small business employ workers if it is not making money? Most hardly make enough money to survive.

Other things are equally disastrous: airports that are constructed, but never used; tram systems that disrupt traffic for years while being built, but are not put into service because they are not viable (leaving local governments to foot the bill for their upkeep); hospitals that are built, but not completely equipped and, or staffed … … the list goes on. And all these disasters have one thing in common – bureaucratic bungling.

And this bungling is reflected in the current political situation here. At present, no one political party is capable of forming a government, so what is happening? The parties, their leaders, and other members are behaving like spoilt brats – arguing, complaining, protesting and generally making a pig’s breakfast out of the whole mess, which is the situation in Spain.

Not one of them has anything equivalent to STATESMANSHIP in their make-up.

Most of them just want power: to keep on milking the cow that has, in the past, given them so much milk. That was, or course, until some of them were caught with their hands in the cream!

Nowadays, most people in Spain neither respect, nor believe in politicians.

And they are right not to do so.

So why don’t we call the whole thing off and start again from the beginning?

We might even get it right a second time around.

 

Author Interview – The same old questions

A short interview with Mark

What are you working on at the moment?  

At present, I’m involved in the editing of Legacy, which is taking up a considerable time as the book runs to 136,000 + words. Although it is part of the series ‘The Chronicles of the White Tower’, it is also separate from them as it blends the present day into the medieval past. It is also part of an individual trilogy within the series, which is called ‘Throwback’.

Legacy, which has a projected publication date of March 15th. 2016, was, in reality, the first book I had written which was sufficiently well written to present to a publisher. When I finally did get an Editor interested in it, she mentioned that it was really too long for the publishers guidelines, but if I wrote anything shorter, she’d like to see it. I sat down and wrote Janette’s Tale, using the medieval background of Legacy as a setting.

They published that and the second book I wrote, continuing the series, Bennett. Although both books had good reviews, they didn’t sell particularly well, so I regained my rights and self-published them, and the third book in the series, Winter Moon.

What inspired the original Legacy? That’s a difficult question to answer, Maybe I just wondered if dreams could possibly become real.

What writing habits do you have that are a little unusual?

Well, I usually write with a pencil in cheap notebooks of A5 format. Then I transfer this, or at least, the parts that are good, to a word document. When this is finished, which can take considerable time as I type with two fingers, I print it and sit down to read and correct the typescript. This usually takes longer than the writing.

Then it’s a matter of sending the corrected typescript to my editor and discussing changes and adaptions with her. It’s quite a drawn-out process.

Finally, it’s ready and I can send it to print. Winter Moon took two and a half years to get to this stage.

Have any books influenced your writing?

I’ve been reading since I was four, so, I assume, I’ve been influenced by many authors. One is probably Anne McCaffrey whose books are very much character based, but are also very good adventure fiction set in believable worlds.

What are you writing at present?

At present, I’m writing the second book of the trilogy ‘Throwback’, which is called ‘The Summoning’. I doubt if it will be finished much before summer 2017 as it is both long and complicated – I’m talking about 200,000 words +, about three normal novels.

The Summoning follows directly on from ‘Legacy’, with the same characters, and more.

How are you promoting your books?

Actually, I have only just starting to promote my books, up until now I’ve had no time to sit down and work at it. What with the day job – the academy: teaching, writing and running the business, time seems to vanish. And I have to eat and sleep. Maybe …. Someday ….

Any advice for new writers?

I hate giving advice! Nobody takes any notice of it. I suppose the best thing to say is: write, and then, correct, correct, correct. I know typos are easy to make – I make plenty myself. But some of the cheap and free books I’ve downloaded don’t appear to have been revised once, let alone edited. If I find too many mistakes in a book – I give it up and chuck it.

My advice is to have the book professionally edited.

Okay, editing takes time and money – but it is essential for a good product. I price my books high because I believe that a year, or two years, or four years (Legacy) of my time and effort is worth some reward. If people don’t want to spend money on a good product – that’s their problem. As Robert Heinlein once wrote (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) ‘Everything that is free is worth what you pay for it.’

The best advice you have ever heard?

Sir Winston Churchill said it, and it applies to everything in life: ‘Never Give Up.’

What are you reading now?

I’m re-reading some of the old, familiar, Peter Wimsey detective books of Dorothy L. Sayers. I don’t like to read books too similar to my writing as I find the style can influence my own work.

And promoting your books?

On the 1st. February until the 5th. of February I’m giving away Kindle downloads of my first book, Janette’s Tale.  (Janette’s Tale – amazon.com) The idea is that if people read it, and like it, they may dig into their pockets and buy the other two books available at present: Bennett, and Winter Moon.

Can people read part of Janette’s Tale before buying it?

Sure, the first few chapters of all my books are available on my website. (www.markpatrick.net)

 

How do you do it?

How do you invent your stories?

AHHH! What a terrible question. The answer is, ‘I don’t know.’

True. The same as all novelists I start with a blank sheet of paper – it is unimportant whether the paper is real or virtual. The important thing is that it is blank: no words, no ideas, no plot – nothing.

So what happens then?

Dimly, in the back of my mind, there is a ‘thought’. It can be a phrase, a scene, or even a whole story – but it is always bare. It is the skeleton, the basic idea.

And next?

Once the idea has congealed in my mind, I write, more or less, the last chapter. This gives me a point at which to aim. The finishing point. The end. So many writers finish a book with questions still pendant. That is okay if there is a sequel planned, but if it is a one off it is not fair on the reader.

And then?

Then is the hard work: I write, rewrite, then write again. I cut scenes, add scenes, destroy a whole idea, but finally, I get down to the basic plot, sub-plot, and characterization I like.

After about a year – maybe six months if I’m not working on the day job, I have a book. BUT NO!!! It hasn’t been edited, or even revised by other authors.

So then?

So then is the agonizing time. You receive criticism from your peers – and it hurts!!! Even if it is constructive criticism, it is not really welcome. However, you read it and sometimes, once in a while, you even adapt the book to the criticism received.

Of course, you always have to right to reject everything – but to be honest, it is better to, at least, consider the criticism offered.

And publishing?

Publishing is easy these days – however marketing is a nightmare..

 

In my next blog, I’ll explain about marketing a book. I can’t market my own, so I will not give advice. I am looking for a person to market my books on commission – as I don’t employ an agent, I’m willing to pay more or less what an agent would get. Let me know if you are interested.