Wednesday, 26 June 2013

NOT a misery memoir

Phew, the past few weeks have proven interesting.

Following my retirement from public service I've been job hunting and getting a tad despondent with what's available and the number of times I can apply for a job only to receive no response from anyone!  On a brighter note, between temp work and submitting job applications, I've been helping a fellow author with some technical issues for her e-book and the paperback edition. 

Fantastic cover art by Amy Pettingill
I first met Amanda Smith through Verluam Writers' Circle, which I joined around thirteen years ago. We were never close, but over the years I became very impressed with the extracts of her work that she regularly read out at meetings - funny, sad, moving and often tragic, Amanda often moved us from laughter to tears and back gain in fifteen-hundred words or less. Many of the extracts that Amanda read were from her accomplished book debut Toxic...No More (USA link here). 

A few years back, Amanda signed a lucrative, two book, publishing deal with a major publisher. A publication date was set, yet the book never appeared. What happened next is not my story to tell: suffice it to say that there was a court battle and a settlement. Perhaps, one day, Amanda will be able to speak publicly about the case. In the meantime, here are some links to news articles in the Bookseller and The Independent.

Anyway, I have helped Amanda to format her e-book and to format the interior layout of the paperback version, which should be available for purchase through Amazon and other places in the very near future. I am currently 75% through reading the actual text, and it is quite breathtaking. It is all that I expected, and more. The cover art is damned good, too. Why not pay a visit to artist Amy Pettingill's website?

The book details Amanda's rather unusual life as an abuse victim and an alcoholic, and her recovery. It has been described as a 'misery memoir', but that is the greatest of misnomers. Amanda's writing style sucks the reader in: we see everything through her eyes, complete with the rose-tinted slant she displayed through all of her misfortune. Don't get me wrong: Amanda has had her share of misery, but she has translated that into a highly readable, often hilarious, memoir. It is a book that should appeal to the mass-market as well as those who are undergoing similar issues and who need to see that despite the hardship, one can fight through it all and come out of the other side as a winner. 

That Smith person is a very strong woman.

Find out more

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Altering the course of clichés: forever!

Hold me down, I'm about to go off on one.

Last night I watched a documentary on National Geographic TV  - ELIZABETH I: KILLER QUEEN (actually, it was a recording). The basis of the programme was that QEI was possibly in love with Robert Dudley, and that Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart, was assassinated, in order that he would be free to marry the Queen  It was an intriguing, if not wholly convincing, premise.  But that’s all by-the-by.

It was all acceptable until one of the the history bods insisted on using a cliché that not only do I hate, but also makes no sense. Boldly, he pronounced that the murder of Amy “... changed the course of history: forever.” Shock. Horror. Drama.

But think about it: “changed the course of history ” is bad enough, but the addition of “forever” makes it totally ridiculous.

If we accept that it is possible to change the course of history, one must accept that
  1. events throughout history and, indeed, the future, follow a preordained course, but that it is possible to alter that course (the latter tends to contradict the former), or
  2. time travel is possible, and someone can go backwards through time to alter events that have already taken place.

If you believe in destiny and/or time travel, stop reading now, otherwise, continue.

History is everything that has already happened. It follows no course: what becomes history is influenced by the actions of everyone and everything existent at the relevant time. Once these actions occur, what is left is a historical fact. Once that fact exists, it cannot be altered. Also, it is not possible to alter a fact before it becomes one: all we can do is influence what becomes a fact. It is, for instance, a fact that I misspelled RELEVANT, above, and had to alter it. I changed the spelling, not the fact that I misspelled it in the first place.

That which is a fact will remain a fact: forever. The addition of the word “forever” to the old cliché is redundant – once a fact, always a fact. It will always be a fact that misspelled RELEVANT.

How does anything “alter the course of history”? If Amy Robsart was murdered, it set a course of events that have now become historical facts. It didn't alter the course of history, because history had not yet happened! And if the time travel bit were feasible, any alteration would already have happened so would already be enshrined in fact (unless you start theorising about alternative dimensions, universes, time streams, etc) .

And while I'm at it, what about that other hackneyed cliché, "He has his whole future ahead of him." COME ON, PEOPLE! Where else would his future be: in his past?

Here endeth the rant. Perhaps my mate Rathbone Kydd could alter things ...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Progress report

So, I retired from the police service in February, I divulged my ex-profession on this blog (see previous two posts), and now I've had the worst sales period ever!

I suppose it's my own fault: I've been almost completely absent from social media for weeks because I've been really busy sorting out a new website and new sources of income. The website can be found in it's usual place - - but it's so much nicer to look at.
Visit the new-look KJB website NOW!!!

The new source of income, if all goes well, will combine writing, photography and my investigative experience  I am working freelance as an investigations agent, compiling accident reports and photographing accident scenes. Maybe it's not art, but it should produce some income!

Now, I need to find the time to write fiction...

Saturday, 9 February 2013


In my previous post HERE I conducted an experiment to see if my now ex-employers were right to impose a condition on my writing activities. With only 4 hours and 26 minutes of employment with the Metropolitan Police Service left, I set out to ascertain if my being a police officer would increase sales, as my employer had suggested. Well, the results are in.

No. Nil. Nada.

Not one single sale after the announcement.

I knew they were wrong!

Now, how about buying copies because I'm and EX-police officer? Just sayin' ...

Friday, 8 February 2013

A short experiment

Anyone who’s read my bio either on my main website or my Amazon profile will know that I have a ‘secret’ occupation in public service. My employers have had a hold over my life and I have had to have my occupation as a writer approved by them: it was approved on the condition that –

1: I spent no more than 16 hours per month doing it, and
2: I did not divulge what my main occupation was, as to do so might result in me selling more books.

In a recent review, condition 1 was removed – I had been ignoring it for several years, anyway. That left number 2.

As of midnight tonight (GMT on 8 February 2013) I cease to be employed by them. I can now reveal that ‘them’ is the Metropolitan Police Service. I have completed 30 years service and it’s time for me to go, so I thought I would try this: now that I have revealed my secret, will it result in a glut of e-book sales? I very much doubt it, but it would be nice if it did.

The links to my e-books are here

Go on, prove that my employer was justly concerned: buy them in their thousands.

(If I sell even one I’d be surprised).