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Saturday 31 December 2016

The Party started already

Rotherham, England 11:5 am GMT December 31st 2016

The other Rotherham, a village in the Hurunui District of Canterbury Region on New Zealand's South Island is already there. Thirteen hours ahead of the UK and among the first places dipping a toe into 2017 with the rest of us not far behind.

Whatever 2016 brought for you, may the new year be the start of something more beautiful.

Here's to you all, wherever you may be, a Happy New Year.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Seasons Greetings

If you prefer, Merry Christmas, and the compliments of the season to one and all.

An odd little thing caught my eye while wandering around the internet a few days ago. A discussion on the correct way to handle "Tis the Season to be jolly..." in whatever format the words are encountered, and questions were  raised as to what "Tis" actually means. This is and It is were both offered as candidates.

Obviously English and old, but that depends on where you hail from in this sceptred isle. For many inhabitants of the north "Tis" is part of our day to day vocabulary, and means "It is," Personally, I would write it as 't is. The leading apostrophe replaces the capital I, but in the spoken form the whole lot is crunched together.

A distinctive feature of the native Sheffield dialect is this crunching together of the words in a sentence to sound like a single continuous stream. A legacy of the noise in the steelworks and factories where conversation was slotted in between the din of heavy industry.

The late Les Dawson, a popular comedian in his day, worked a double act of two Lancashire women whose conversation would frequently drop out of hearing, leaving only the exagerated lip movements and facial expressions to convey the meaning. Shifting it to a comic setting with a running stream of innuendo prompting the silences let the viewer'a imagination fill in the gaps.

He was tapping into a traditional form of comunication used by the workers in the cotton mills, again striving to converse over the sound of the machines. So the key is pronunciation, and the confusion is about conveying a dialectic element without confusion.

As with local  advice in West Yorkshire regarding foul weather attire. Should you find yourself on a the hills without suitable head gear, be careful. Tha knows what happened on Ilkey moor bar t' 'at.

The truth of it, it doesn't really matter how you say it, we all know what it means and when we say it, the words come out right.

So as 't is, t' season, may your's be jolly and bright, and a happy Christmas to you all.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Going the distance

1st December 2016, I posted a congratulatory note for the valiant band who had emerged from the thirty day maelstrom of NaNoWriMo. Successful or not, maybe the truth is that it doesn't matter.
You, whoever you are, were there.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Been there, done that

Not this November,

Congratulations to all of you. The valiant who plunged into a month long journey of discovery. Charging headlong into a mealstrom of creativity at the witching hour of hallowe'en and now, a month later the words are out, transcribed on to screen or paper and they cannot be put back.

For the first timers this November  was your "one day..." and you followed it with twenty nine others

Now the pressure is off, a little, but that promise to write "One day" has been kept and you willl never be the same again.

Pause a moment and give yourself a chance to relfect on the achievement, whether you hit the target or not, the last thirty days says something about you. You stuck it out and gave it your best. So they words were still pouring out as the deadline loomed, you were there, in the thick of it,  drawing with your imagination on the raw pulse of your inspiration until you crossed the line.

That feleing you have now, the potent mixture of sensations, that's yours to hold and treasure and no-one can take that away from you.

Hang on to it, enjoy it, you've earned it.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Colour Coded

One of the surprising threads on social media after the US elections discussed the colour of Hillary Clinton's jacket lapels, many tweets expounded theories about the colour choice. Comments blended the Democrat Blue and the Republican Red into a common purple echoed in the words of Mrs Clinton's  speech after the vote, and the campaign slogan "Stronger Together."

Friday 11 November 2016

He was a soldier too.

I often think about him at this time of year, an old gentleman I used to see quite often. Almost every morning close to a war memorial, roughly the same time of day, about nine o’clock. Quiet, reflective, the sort of man who keeps himself to himself. Occasionally we would exchange a few words beyond good morning and then he would go about his business.

One day he wasn’t there, and he would never be again, but before that day he shared something that had a profound effect on me. He’d left a card on the memorial, asking people to remember those who had died in the second battle of them Somme. I paused to read the card and he said quietly “I wish I had died with them.”

Sunday 6 November 2016

Who is the masked man?

November the Fifth, Bonfire Night, the Million Mask March through London, all connected by the face of one man. Guido Fawkes. Some say he was the last man to enter the Houses of Parliament with honest intentions 

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Starting over

November 1st, another year and another challenge for hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of writers?

NaNoWriMo swung into gear at 00:01 this morning wherever you are in the world. If you are heading out for the first time into uncharted waters with your first attempt at the fifty-thousand word - thirty-day challenge good luck and enjoy yourself, and the same good wishes go to all the veterans of past NaNoWriMo years.

I'm giving it a miss this November, focusing on completing works in progress.
The finished novels are available through the major eBook retailers, check out the links from cheekyseagull.co.uk  Click the drop down  menu, each title has its own page; or visit the series page at Smashwords for The Grange.

Grab yourself a piece of the action, a good thriller for the dark winter nights is just what you need.

Thursday 20 October 2016

What did you say?

It kicked off with a conversation about language with a colleague and an attempt to introduce him to the delights of the arty bollocks generator, I've touched on this before, but this time, horror of horrors, it was off-line. Mildly embarrassing to head for the reveal and be left with "page cannot be displayed" or a similar message. Happily, the loss was temporary and before too long the generator was back at work.

The temporary denial set me clicking around the Internet, trying to discover where it had gone and in the process stumbled on a cornucopia of generators, all of the same ilk. Brothers in Arms of the ABG and I was introduced to International Art English, after David Levine and Alix Rule's 2012 essay in the TripleCanopy magazine and a variant, one might call it a dialect perhaps, International New Music English explored by Danika Paskvan in cacophonymag.com.

With a liking for word play and a fascination for how language changes, naturally and by mangling and mutilation uncovering the various generators became a serious distraction, touching on the conversation about triggers, safe spaces and the less than tolerant attitudes expressed in both these areas. I left the heavy stuff for another day; returned to the generators and International Art English.

Levine and Rule explored the premise in their essay that the language of art whether by accident or design confused, obfuscated and segregated. Knowing the language was a way of breaking into and advancing through the ranks, without the knowledge advancement was near impossible. They lay some of the responsibility for the development of International Art English with the interns of the art world, at one point describing the language as English inexpertly translated from French.

The pair take it seriously, and many of the art world do, fluency is a mark of the Insider, and Levine and Rule describe it as a unique language, English that definitely is not English. Their research involved running thousands of press releases through the language analysing software, Sketch Engine, to uncover the workings behind it all. IAE uses more words not less. Its structure under analysis pointed towards the badly translated French origin and Levine and Rule pinpoint its arrival via the magazine October, a critical journal founded in 1976 in New York and drawing on French post structuralism's ideas and prose style.

Where ever it began, the language is now as global as its parent and an established part of any exhibition or installation, for good or ill.

I digress, that's how it's been for a couple of weeks, it started with the ABG and went waltzing (without matilda) across the Internet. The original intention of locating the downed ABG sent the click rate soaring and a web of connections. Nowhere seemed safe from jargon of some description or other and the humorous generators were never far away.

IAE was born out of post structuralism and post modernism got  in on the act too, the post modern essay generator was high on the search rankings, click the button and another wordy treatise of intellectual gibberish appears on the screen, and business has its adherents at the commerce B.S. generator. A simple click throws up a snippet of..., click it again and another one appears.

It does seem the art world is assailed by more than its share of generators, maybe an extension of the inevitable creativity expressed through art, but that hyperbolic verbiage comes under ruthless assault - hang on a moment, did I just slip into...?

The Art speak generator offers a quick fix, the Critical Response to the Art Product - the FLA is pretty clear  - offers a quick retort in a tight situation. The apposite comment you wish was in residence all the time visiting fifteen minutes after you turn the light out at night.

The right words at the right moment, what a rare gem that can be!

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Just when you thought it was safe...

It was a sequel to Jaws, the not entirely originally titled Jaws 2, but it had the tag "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..." A classic line from Peter Benchley.

After sifting through the Bowker review of publishing trends, 2010 to 2015 and seeing the hit the Vanity press had taken, a hit so hard that Penguin Random House ditched Author Solutions at the beginning of 2016, and the declining numbers of authors buying their product I should have known there would be something lurking around the corner. Just when you thought...

I had that feeling when I clicked on David Gaughran's blog and started reading, he is running through the latest money scamming idea from the dodgy end of publishing, Vanity Publishers pretending to be legitimate trade publishers and hiding their true colours until the author has taken the hook, been played on the line and finally reeled in.

Just go to David's blog and read it here.

I'll let David tell the story, my job tonight is merely to pass it on, at David's request!

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Looking under the carpet

That moment, you reach the point of searching for something and lift the corner of the carpet  to peer underneath, you know full well that what you're looking for isn't there, but you haven't already looked. So, the corner of the carpet comes up.

I guess it's also the moment that anything you swept under there before stares balefully back at you.

A couple of things had me looking around the other day, one was Bowker's Self-Publishing in the United States. 2010 - 2015; an analysis of print and ebook publishing trends and the other was a search at the top of the page. After wasting a few minutes, alright, more than a few minutes on the trending hashtags of twitter I moved on. I typed in Publisher's Weekly and read the search result at the head of the page; chooseyourpublisher.com.

Some time ago I posted a blog on the workings of the vanity presses in general and Author Solutions in particular, I remarked on the number of times the web page of something like FindYourPublisher had Author Solutions tucked at the bottom of the page (nothing has changed).

Chooseyourpublisher had; chooseyourpublisher. Now I was curious, so who are chooseyourpublisher, moving sideways across to an Internet domain site - I used get dotted  - I searched for chooseyourpublisher found the suffixes still available and clicked on the information icon of a domain name already taken and scanned the whois information.

Sound advice for an individual is to sign up for the privacy deal, big companies and organisations aren't always so particular. The owner of the domain name was tucked into the listed information and the usual suspects' information was there on the screen.

David Gaughran and Victoria Strauss and others have long held a spotlight up to the shady world of Vanity Publishers and the recent class actions dismissed against Author Solutions notwithstanding. Some of their activities deserve closer scrutiny.

What caught my eye about the Bowker report and the trends identified within the industry shed some light on Penguin Random House's quiet release of their hold on the company in January 2016. A contrast to the purchase four years previously

PRH bought AS in 2012 with considerable fanfare, and many thought the new owners would change the MO, not so! The old practises continued and the company expanded under the new owners.

However reluctant AS and PRH might have been to change their ways, the world was changing around them. The attitude towards self-publishing was shifting. Middle ranking and other authors previously held by commercial publishes were moving their back catalogues and self-publishing titles as they recovered rights previously signed away.

Commercial presses were already snapping up successful self-published authors and the expansion of authors working through the medium of the Internet shared their knowledge and experience. All contributed to a decline in the number of ISBN's issued through the Vanity outlets.

Caution is needed here; the Bowker document gives an indication of the trends visible through the distribution of ISBNs, Most self published authors are aware that an ISBN isn't essential for publication, so the picture laid out by Bowker isn't the whole picture.

What that might be is anyone's guess, but one thing seems certain, change is the only constant. Have a look at the article where I found the report and a hat tip to The Passive Voice for pointing me towards the-digital-reader.

Caution should be a watchword, check the links, dig deep into those who come knocking and ask Whois looking for your book to publish it, or help you do the donkey work. protect your investment. The time and effort you have put into your creation are worth it, and if you do make a mistake, pick yourself up and have another go.

When you need that boost, that hand up to get you back on your feet. Dust yourself down and remind yourself the large lady will have to find someone else to entertain.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Sticks and stones, and words too!

Still working with the idea that Brexit could be the source material for future creativity had me digging through the Spectator online the other day and an article about the Creative and Artistic response to the vote as expressed at the Edinburgh Festival. Lloyd Evans penned "Luvvie anger over Brexit is palpable at Edinburgh - and its exposing their true colours.

Are we seeing a social shift where the creatives coalesce into a distinct strata in society deserving of special status? the constant search for funding, sponsorship etc. has always been part of the creative life, but the sense of a right, that as creatives they have a right to be funded has become more ope and the right to pass judgement, to decide who and what the other side are; basically wrong is more openly expressed.

Evans explains that the tantrum throwing mentality of the artistic Remainers is understandable; why? They believe the vote will deprive them of lots of cash. The humour was aimed at the Leave voters and inevitably called into question their intellectual capacity. In four days of comedy he encountered only one pro-Brexit joke from Geoff Norcott who was puzzled by the Remainers conviction the vote had been swung by 'thick' Leave voters. 'Thick?' He said. "The Remain campaign waited until after 23 June to stage their protest.'

Humour is powerful, but it's the sense of power exuded by the Remain camp, that the will of the people, the democratic vote can be overturned by whatever means possible. Evans takes his analysis further, citing the satirist Andy Saltzman asking who was to blame and received a list of the usual political suspects, Cameron, Johnson, Gove et al. received a name check, but the real culprit  - if there is one - was never mentioned; Democracy.

Many writers, especially the thriller and spy genre wondered what would happen after the Berlin wall came down and Communism began to fragment in the early 1990s. None of us at the time could have predicted the events of the next twenty years, the conflicts, terror alerts and the current situation unfolding across Europe with the migration of thousands from the Middle East and Africa.

The material kept coming, more than enough for any writer to slake their thirst for inspiration. Is this the beginning of what we see unfolding within the United Kingdom, a wealth of intrigue and chicanery. Political manoeuvring and judicial interference. Mishcon de Reya,  acting on behalf of clients, has challenged the Government procedure regarding article 50, citing that it should uphold the constitution and protect the sovereignty of Parliament. I thought that's what the whole bloody fuss was about in the first place! Parliament's sovereign ability to function without interference from outside.

Maybe, I'm just being a thick Leaver, but doesn't the vote come after the debate, and isn't that what the relentless bovine scatology hurtling from every direction was supposed to be? Debate first, vote after, then action derived from the result and to quote the legal challengers  'the decision to trigger Article 50... rests with the representatives of the people under the UK Constitution. That's Parliament, by the way.

Literature has worked the theme of the difference between the top and bottom of society for centuries, Dickens explored the class divisions in many of his novels, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and others, all unpacked the society in which he lived. Nearly a century later in the 1950s, British literature embraced social commentary, and the voices of John Osborne, Kingsley Amis and John Braine - among others - the Angry Young Men made themselves heard.

The referendum revealed a complex division among the voters and the over simplification of Leavers and Remainers does neither side any good. The perspective decides the point of view, who is wearing the black hat and who the white? The good guys and the bad?

The House of Commons, the lower chamber of the High Court of Parliament, has 650 members and they asked a direct question and got a straight answer, It's first past the post and the simple majority prevails; the majority vote was to leave. Black and White,  not 650 shades of grey?

Barely two months since the vote was cast and the potential material is gathering already, who knows what the future will bring, thrillers edged with the internal tensions of former colleagues in Pan European co-operation working the national angle into a multi-national agency. The insider who now stands outside? All of it potential material. The rise of the Far Right, and the counter-balance of the resurgence of the Far Left. If you go far enough in either direction do you wind up in the same place - I just wondered?

Kick the imagination into gear and the list grows exponentially, material, material, material. Complex, convoluted, add words to the list. I could go on...

Not today,

One last thought. On the morning after the vote a BBC reporter asked Jean-Claude Juncker is the vote marked the 'beginning of the end of the European Union?' He gave a one word answer - no - and left the podium. What happens next? We are only just beginning to find out.

Friday 12 August 2016

My Precious

David Gaughran posted a piece about the current state of the publishing industry and its attitude towards books and publication. Read it, go, read it, and then come back here. I have my own two pennorth to throw into the ring.

David is known for his advocacy of the cause against Vanity presses and the links between the scammers and the so-called reputable industry. His earlier blog posts are worth looking at regarding the Penguin Random House relationship with Author Solutions, and others.

Wednesday 10 August 2016


I recently bought my first Kindle device; not, I hasten to add the first e-reading device I've had, but definitely the first Kindle.

I've used the Kindle software on other devices, PC, laptop, tablet and occasionally grappled with the smartphone variant, with varying degrees of success.

The Kindle was brought to replace a Kobo mini; for what it is, a reasonably satisfactory device but the kobo had it's limitations.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Keeping it under your hat!

Declining eBook sales, and this has nothing to do with the effects of Brexit, this is routine sales figures for the last quarter. Nate Hoffelder at the-digital-reader.com flags up the recent reticence of the Big Five/Six to discuss eBook revenues, and the apparent decline in sales.

Jim Milliot picked up the thread in Publishers Weekly looking at the decline in eBook sales, citing user preferences changing and wanting more time away from screens.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Henderson's relish

My forays into twitter land can be somewhat erratic, hit one day and skip the next two or three. Tonight, after the day job had finished and I found myself at my desk - the one that looks over the park - I was flicking through the trends and stumbled on #Londonisopen. First reaction, I didn't know it had been shut, but then it is Monday and I suppose some of the businesses might close over the weekend, so I dug a little further and saw it was a post-Brexit trend (Are we already post Brexit, or did I miss something, I thought we'd only had the vote that was going to start the process?)

Turns out that it's an idea from the Mayor of London telling the world that London is still open for business. I don't want to spoil anybody's fun, but I think the rest of the world knows. It's sort of how things work. The morning after the vote nothing had changed, we are still, for the time being, part of the European Union and will remain so until someone pulls their finger out and starts the ball rolling.

Nothing has changed or maybe something has; the perspective. Personally I sense a shift over the past three weeks, sifting through the news feeds covering the reaction to the vote and the prospect of dealing directly with the UK as a trading partner I have become more aware of the wider world. The European blinkers have been peeled back.

The talk is Europe, Europe, but it's really the European Union. Europe is a hell of lot bigger than the European Union (it includes a considerable part of Russia, the  European bit of Russia is almost the size of the European Union- the border lies along the Ural mountains on the other side of Moscow and a little bit of Azerbaijan, a piece of Georgia, the Ukraine, Belarus. a section of Kazakhstan, and smaller section of Turkey.) There is almost as much of Europe outside the EU as there is in it.)

Is it the big fish little pond situation, close down the boundaries of the pool and the little fish look bigger, transfer them to the ocean and the perspective changes relative to the circumstance. Have we been so inward looking and Euro-centric we have forgotten the bigger perspective. Convinced ourselves that being one twenty-eighth part of something was better than standing on our own two feet. A couple of days ago, Love Actually trended on Twitter and one tweet suggested a petition for Hugh Grant as PM - for his response to the President's statement.

It is a good response, but should we be really looking towards a romantic comedy for our political inspiration, to find the balls to stand up for ourselves?

#Londonisopen, I'm not knocking the idea, by all means tell the world that London is still a brilliant vibrant capital, a melting pot of people and ideas.

In the post referendum moment where we are now there is quixotic feeling, of tilting at imaginary windmills, and a better slogan may have been provided by Mrs Laura Henderson, not the spouse of the Yorkshire Relish manufacturer but the proprietress of London's Windmill Theatre who's doors remained open throughout the Second World War, except for the fourteen days compulsory closure at the outbreak of war in September 1939; We Never Closed!

The Windmill added something to the image of London, a little bit of spice, a piquant tang, but whatever happened the show goes on. something to relish on an evening in town.

The Windmill eventually closed its doors in 1964, succumbing to the draw of the private members clubs in Soho.

#Londonisopen; so is the rest of the country,

Don't fool yourself that the leave vote was quixotic, It's not going to be an easy road ahead.

Patch the pieces together, where the traditional industries once drove the economy and noisy factories clattered to the sound of machinery now bear the silent hush of the Art Gallery. the fashionable pied-a-terre or bronze statues stand where metal was once poured, and plot the vote to leave on your map.

James Ashton's column in the Evening Standard today argues that London should not be pulled down to close the North-South gap. He is right, no argument with that. Kicking aside the restrictive traces of the European project was not about bringing London down to where the other regions are. that's a bad idea. Pulling everyone down to the same level helps no-one, we all want to enjoy the sunlit uplands of a strong economy. Who doesn't? Josh Burge posted a tweet to his blog reminding people why he thinks London is a great place, irrespective of the result of the vote.

It's grim up North! A stereotype attributed to J.B. Priestley in his 1934 book, English Journey and his depiction of the Northern landscape was widely publicised but not well received in the North. Priestley himself was a native of West Yorkshire.

He travelled across a landscape of heavy industry and saw a North-South gap. I wonder what he would make of it now.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Once upon a time...

A week is a long time in politics, and a fortnight must seem like an eternity. A couple of weeks ago, in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum and the knee jerk reactions from both sides, the yah boo sucks and teddy slinging I realised that this moment in history may have  significance far beyond any horizon we can see.
As a writer I cannot ignore it, and as someone fascinated by history, I definitely cannot put on the blinkers.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Looking for that something, holdiay reading?

Spot of shameless plugging of the books coming up.
Smashwords summer promotion is in full flow, a shed load of books by authors from all over the globe available at a discount,
The whole of The Grange series is enrolled this summer, get them while you can at half price; click on the link below to grab a piece of the action!

Iceline -free as usual.
Control Escape
What You Ask For 
The Obedience of Fools

There's a lot to choose from this summer, great reads by great authors, once you've grabbed your piece of The Grange, check out the rest of the site. There is a link from each of the discounted Grange stories, or click from Smashwords home page.

Monday 4 July 2016

Upsetting the gravy boat!

Brexit - what happens when the big guy sits the wooden bench; he brexit? A slightly modified version of Yorkshire humour that dropped into my inbox from a friend across the border in Barnsley. I'm in Rotherham; Barnsley's another town and yes, it has its own dialectic variations and there is a border. Well, a boundary sign that says welcome to Welcome to Barnsley, going the other way it says Welcome to Rotherham.

Not quite another country, but that moment is a treasured one in the reams of opinion, comment, vitriol and abuse I've waded through since the 24th June. Now, before I go any further, I have no crystal ball to tell me the reaction of those who voted to leave had the vote gone to Remain, it may have been exactly the same, but one thing does come across abundantly clear from my lofty vantage point "Oop North." London woke up to find itself out of touch with a large proportion of the country to a greater or lesser degree. Leaving Scotland and Northern Ireland aside for a moment and you can check the figures here; London voted Remain. Voila, hey presto, the mainstream media have most of country tagged as racist, xenophobic ignorant knuckle-draggers.

The Publishing Industry has had its reviews and articles, International Publishing unpacks some perspectives on nationalism in its articles, according to one contributor Scottish independence was OK, but when the English do it, it's the dark side and the inevitable fascist reference pops up somewhere? One commentator in the article did make the valid point that both sides involved in the campaign could have done it better and the poster boys and girls on both sides left a lot to be desired, To solely blame the campaigners for the media output is disingenuous. Editors and Publishers reveal their own bias in what they print, so put the responsibility where it belongs. Not unexpectedly the establishment favoured a continuation of the status quo, but they failed to prepare for not getting their way. The agent Diane Banks has her own take on the situation and is worth looking at in the Bookseller, Her comments on the intellectual property of this country and its economic growth rate raised a smile.

Whatever the argument you have for casting your vote they way you did, for the former prime minister, Tony Blair to suggest we saw it as a protest vote reveals the distance between the political elite and the populace. I know it wasn't a protest vote, nor a rehearsal; as I said in a previous blog it was a vote I'd waited a long time to cast. For myself, and no doubt many others, the campaigns didn't always help. The information required for a decision had been gathered, dissected, analysed and weighed in the balance over a long period of time. I gave the European Project a chance, and it was found wanting. The Slovakian Prime Minster, Robert Fico remarked on the 1st of July as his country stepped into the presidency of the European Council there is "too much Brussels in the EU."

Already, the Brexit blame train is under way, market fluctuations, trillions lost off the share value in the stock exchange, all the fault of the Brexit, and amongst the milling throng the ones who hold their cool, wait and mop up after the panic buying and selling calms down. The whole thing was a chance, an opportunity to shift money around and they knew it was coming, and they took it. Give it six months and the market value will be back where it was before, wait and see.

The Leave campaign is being slagged off because they haven't got a plan, no more than it was Remains charge to have a plan for after the vote. Parliament asked the question, Parliament should have a plan, Plan A (Remain) and Plan B (Exit), although the way the screaming hissy fit emanated from London in the wake of the vote you could be excused for thinking they had gone straight to Plan F - ($#!? they voted to go we've got to do it; Plan F; go on, work it out).

Judging by the reaction Plan A went something like, Relax, put the kettle on, have a cup of tea and a digestive.
Plan B was equally simple, standard government buff file with a single piece of paper - Exit; really, you're joking?

You could be fooled into thinking someone had actually started a war, an actual blood and thunder war by some of the media coverage; that we were on the brink of the end of the world as we know it. Strangely that may be so, the world as we know it changed, the relentless march to ever closer political union hit a wall. The establishment walked straight into it and came away with a bloody nose, and the world experienced a WTF! moment.

Commentators have discussed at length the pitfalls and travails that await us as we move forward from the vote, Toxic negotiations with the EU about how we trade with the single market, demands that we go now, or from the Lithuanian angle, clarify the situation regarding the vote, is it binding?
The majority paint a picture of gloom and despondency, dare I say, blood, sweat and tears?

In life there are many things that come down to timing, on the morning of the vote a BBC reporter, Katya Adler asked the European Commission President if this was the end of the European Union?. She got a curt one word answer before he left the podium.

A question considered unthinkable a few years ago, but explored in a recent BBC The Inquiry podcast, but maybe now is the time, the euro-sceptic is as widespread across the continent as the Euro-phile.

Historians will pick over the bones of the 23rd June and the months and years ahead, aided by the forensic glare of hindsight, weighing up the odds, balancing the pros and cons seeing the whole story laid out in the tapestry of history, weighing up what Churchill actually meant when he discussed a United Europe, whether he saw us part of it or allied but not bound by it, as a sponsor not a member.

Perhaps it is a question of timing, June 23rd now has another entry for this day in history, then look at the month around it, from the British point of view and its historical relationship with Europe. Topped and tailed by iconic events, It begins with a miraculous escape and ends, as beautifully commemorated by the Ghost Soldiers who drifted through Britain's railway stations one hundred years to the minute after their countrymen had gone over the top, with a name synonymous with death and destruction.

Tinkering with the psyche of a nation can have strange consequences, book-ended by such iconic events with memories that touch deep personal emotions maybe June was the wrong month, perhaps there isn't a right month to ask the question, especially where the English are concerned.

Immigration may have been the top media topic, but accountability and the democratic remit was also there, Emily Hill writing in The Spectator explores a social media angle and honesty about revealing voting patterns.

I had chat with a friend the morning of the vote, he'd nipped out for a few minutes to ponder on the result and admitted to feeling like the only one who voted Leave. I told him he wasn't, the Leave vote had been definite in Rotherham, but I know how he felt. It didn't take long to be left feeling the whole of Europe was against us, that we had few friends left in the world, and then the remarks from Commonwealth countries appeared, who didn't seem too upset by the vote.

Familiar tale, stuck on the beach with your back to the tide, all the world against you and nowhere to turn? Does a nation possess a collective psyche, a shared history, a memory that becomes embedded?

The eyes of the world were upon us, we made made the choice and the consensus was that we we're doomed, Captain Mainwaring, Doomed! The pollsters and experts, who got it wrong over the General election and the Referendum were queuing to cast their entrails and bones.

I don't know where it came from, we shook hands and I said to him, "We've stood on this beach before." #littleships

Maybe Churchill can have the last word, whatever the experts may say, "this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Sunday 3 July 2016

This one gets my vote!

Bit of light relief, Fed up with the endless stream of news and comment, looking for the way out? Smashwords Summer and Winter promotion is now on, All the Grange Series are listed, Iceline is free, and the others, Control Escape, What You Ask For and The Obedience of Fools are discounted to 50% of their normal retail price, but only at Smashwords and with the code SSW50. Get yours, grab a slice of the action, and trust me nobody will mention Brexit?

You only have until the end of July, then everything goes back to normal, whatever that is!

Saturday 25 June 2016

The morning after...

Not an opportunity I could miss really, to post a comment on the EU referendum. Yesterday's vote has been discussed,  argued over and specffulated about for months. For some of us the opportunity to make our mark regarding the relationship with the rest of Europe has been a long time coming. Forty one years have past since the people of Britain went to the polls over Europe. Back then it was a 67% yes vote from 65% turnout.

Back then it was the European Economic Community, no-one was openly talking about fiscal and political union. I wasn't old enough to vote, a couple of years short of voting age. Now you're trying to do the maths and work out how old I might be, well, good luck.

The important factor is that I, along with the biggest turnout (72;2%) for any vote since the 1992 General Election, made our way to the Polling Stations and put our cross in the relevant box.

In the first past the post system in British politics, a vote over fifty percent of the votes cast is a majority. 51.9 voted to leave, 48.9 voted to stay across the country. A close call nationally but looking at the country region by region the vote was clearer. Across the Yorkshire region the split between the votes was 61,56% to leave, 38.44% to stay. A clear majority. The BBC website has an intriguing scale of how the regions voted

London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain, and had the lowest turnout. Flooding in parts of London may have had some effect. The south east mirrored the national vote almost exactly and in every other region the vote was to leave, only the margin varied.

I'm sure that will be investigated by future historians who look back on the events of the past few days.

The result throws up as many questions as it answered and the ripples of the vote were felt in the financial markets across the world almost immediately. The reaction from some of the figures at the heart of Europe was emotionally charged and maybe had the power to launch teddy bears out of prams. Behind all the flimflam, bluster and bull I think the establishment thought they had it in the bag.

It takes nerve to be the first to get up and leave the party, you just know everyone will be talking about you when you've left.

So how did I vote, well, it's a secret ballot, so I can't say.

Through the window from my desk I look out on trees, and the greatest tree in the English wood is the Oak. Roots planted firmly in the soil and its trunk, with a good solid heart pushes up to the heavens, gnarled time worn and weather beaten boughs reach for the sky, branches lift a crown fit for a king: a crown of... leaves.

I'm going for a beer now; a Spitfire, a good Kentish ale,  Seems appropriate to the day.
I waited a long time for this one!

Friday 24 June 2016

Sliding back into the groove

I've had a slack couple of weeks from a writing point of view; the day job and life generally disrupting the yet to be achieved ideal habits of creativity. After I had spent April punching Gone to Earth further towards a conclusion and suffered an impromptu plot twist that threw me off course for a while.

Set the clock to do a bit of digging around on twitter yesterday, 23rd June, inevitably the referendum generated some amusing traffic and hashtags including #dogsatpolingstations and after the Internet poll to select the name for the new survey vessel,  eventually named the RRS David Attenborough, in honour of the Naturalist and broadcaster who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. The public vote wanted BoatyMcBoatface; the name was given to the small remotely operated vessel on the "Attenborough." Inevitably the referendum threw #voteymcvoteface into the mixture. 

Skipping past all that I tracked down some of the people I follow, and have done since I started out as an author. David Gaughran always come close to the top of the list here. I began reading his blog before Iceline hit the digital shelves and have found his book Lets Get Digital a valuable reference. It's currently on the updated second edition, and now free, maybe forever!

David has been grinding an axe against the machinations of Author Solutions for as long as I can remember and his twitter feed has been busy with traffic regarding the attitude of the big publishing houses and their relationship with authors. Go for the fifteenth of June and work your way back.

The sub-title of David's book, Let's Get Digital, is How to self-publish, and why you should, goes a long way to explaining the choices I made in my personal journey to authorship. 

I was tempted, honestly, before I took the plunge with smashwords, the adverts were very tempting especially to an Internet newbie. What saved me, what held me back from the promised honeypot? Cash was tight, there was no spare to throw away, and so I kept my wallet in my pocket and looked deeper. The shadows behind the glittering facade were deep and dark like the spooky cellar in the haunted house that you just know  the dumb ass hero is going down to their fate.

I had to find another way, and David's blog is worth following, for his dogged persistence, he is not alone, Victoria Strauss at WriterBeware weighs in with her own research, valuable stuff for the newbie and the more experienced. 

Finding David Gaughran still working the case for the self-published author against the vanity presses and their relationships with the big publishers rekindled a spark somewhere, breathed life on to an ember that seemed to be cooling. 

The past few weeks have been a reflective time, ideas percolating at the back of my mind have found their way forward and hopefully a resolution. Realistically, the end product may be a classic English compromise. Cheekyseagull, the name again, and I have been over this before, weighing up the pros and cons of sticking with it, well, the solution may be found in the header of the website. Reconfigured over the past couple of weeks, the tag is now cheekyseagullbooks.co.uk. The familiar cheekyseagull.co.uk is tucked underneath, just below "home of the Grange Thrillers by Martyn Taylor." 

The next question, where to go from here, and in the spirit of the re-ordered website, the new About Me page I have to make the journey myself, independently. I may have to rejig one or two other things before I'm happy with the result.

Thanks for stopping by to share this post.


Wednesday 1 June 2016

Working the Angles.

The previous post "Who's the Man," touched on the identity of a character in Iceline, a voice heard over the telephone and referred to as The Man. Suggesting a person of power and influence, but leaving the details of legitimacy vague and unexplored, the insinuation of the context is that the power is illegal and beyond reach of the civil power.

The thought stayed with me and provoked a look at Rudyard Kipling, and his six honest serving men; What, Why, When, How, Where and Who! A handful of troops I've mustered to unravel a number of situations, both fictional and real.

Saturday 21 May 2016

Who's the Man?

Working through the text of Control Escape the other night, the regular plod of edit and check gave me a moment to stop and think. The writing time between Control Escape and Iceline was quite a few years - life has a habit of getting in the way sometimes - and although there is an element of continuity between the novels, Iceline has had a stand alone feel to it, until last year. 

Saturday 23 April 2016

Happy Birthday Bill

400 years, Four whole centuries since the greatest writer in English passed this way, April 23rd, the day he was born in 1564 and the day he died in 1616. William Shakespeare. A playwright, poet and actor from Stratford on Avon about whom we know very little but who left his mark on our language and culture like no other before or since.

A genius who scratched out the trials and tribulations of life, wrapped up in comedy tragedy and history. The aspirations of commoners, Kings and Emperors for our delectation and delight.

Love, lust, jealousy as well as honour and nobility;  all found in the pages of his plays and the words we've often sought for that moment then borrowed, adapted or plagiarised to make a point!

He was 52 when he died, not a bad innings for his day, and yet that vital spark never died, nor will it. Whenever an actor treads the boards, a movie director calls "Action!" or someone looking for the right words for that extraordinary moment where the whole of life hangs by a delicate thread, to draw the hushed "yes!" to a fateful question and Romeo wins his Juliet: that spark will glow brightly.

My uncle Bill called him Billy Wobbledagger and as a child it took me a while to work out who he was talking about, Scholars have spent years doing the same, compiling theories about who he really was, where he came from. The name behind the alias or whatever flights of fancy took them to unpack the history of the lad from Stratford, Blue-ing his blood to explain the extraordinary talent, convinced his real identity lay in grander circumstances, convinced no commoner could create such works.

Perhaps Shakespeare's greatest creation is himself, The puzzle that surrounds the genius. The imagination, wit and wisdom of his plays., the playfulness and passion of his sonnets. The chronicles of hard won lessons of life, of victory and defeat!

The blank pages of his life about which we know so little may tell us what is important; the source of the gift is a mystery but his gift to us is well known, loved, imitated and respected. He walked this way once, as we all do.Then left his words, his dreams and stories for us to hold, cherish and pass on.

So many times, the whispered homage, "I wish I'd written that!"

For every one of them... Thanks,.

Happy Birthday Will!

Tuesday 12 April 2016

World Book Night

 Eleven days to go

23 April, a portentious date in English literature, the birthdate, and the day he died, of William Shakespeare, shared with the festival of George, England's patron.

Shakespeare used the saint as a rally; Cry Harry, for England and St George.
It's time to rally the forces again on World Book Night, originally celebrated with World Book Day in March but recently as a stand alone, volunteers across the globe will be handing out books; as a gift, genuinely something for nothing.

Statistically, 36% of adults in England are said never to read, and along with World Book Day in March, World Book Night aims to put books into the hands of people who might not usually read
There is the official selection of titles, but what can we do as individuals, as authors and readers?

Share what we love, spread the words. The official selection may not be to everyone's taste, but there is something out there for everyone; a novella, an epic, a cracking good read. Put the imagination in gear and share a book with someone you know, a book you have read and loved, your choice, see if you can work out what they might like...

...and let the adventure rattle onwards!

Thursday 31 March 2016

Deceptive Appearances

March 2015, a little over a year ago I posted "A Cautionary Tale from Becca Mills" which linked to Becca's own post at The Active Voice and recounts how her book Nolander was blocked by a DMCA notice,

Now via the Passive Voice, comes another tale of the perils of publishing; plagiarism

Eilis O'Hanlon recalls how her novels were swiped by a stranger in the Irish Independent newspaper. She unpacks a story worth telling and like most real-life stories the outcome for O'Hanlon and her co-author, Ian McConnell, writing as Ingrid Black is not tidy.

The discovery came through a tweet from @donnapatel asking the simple question; "Are you Ingrid Black?"

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Don't be a fool!

Time on your hands, space on your device? Are you still enjoying that break from the day job?
Visit The Grange and check out the action.
Discount codes available until the 31st March, Don't hang about and get caught on April the 1st, the clock is ticking!

Iceline -free as usual.
Control Escape - enter TP79Y at the checkout
What You Ask For - enter NT97R
The Obedience of Fools - enter JD95K

Thursday 24 March 2016

Dropped the ball...

One way of putting it, more like dropped a ball, in a manner of speaking. Had a phone call this morning from a friend and reader about What You Ask For. I had the manufacturer's name wrong for a car, the Mitsubishi Pajero, and half the story was missing.

Once the slight panic and feeling of "Oh bollocks" had dissipated I dragged the tech across the desk and went to Smashwords to check.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Offline - Gone to Earth

Gone to Earth comes off line tonight, I shall unpublish the work in progress at Smashwords. Not ready for the premium catalog the uncompleted text has noly been available as a download at Smashwords.

Gone to Earth is, effecively going to earth, like the fox pursued by the hunt, heading for cover only this time, not to hide. but to be completed, so when it appears again the whole story weill be revealed.

April is the month for getting stuck into the job, so I should find myself in various corners of the house, depending on the time of day or evening, or if the weather is kind enough, outside ejoying the spring sunshine and the steadily lengthening evenings.

The rest of the Gramge Thrillers remain available through all channels and for the rest of the month at Smashwords, discount codes are available

Iceline -free as usual.
Control Escape - enter TP79Y at the checkout
What You Ask For - enter NT97R
The Obedience of Fools - enter JD95K

Saturday 12 March 2016

Reaching the line

"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to hang in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully," was Dr  Samuel Johnson's take on a deadline. Not something we are likely to face, even if we consider writing in the same vein as Bill Shankly, the legendary manager of Liverpool Football Club, who considered the game to be more important than life and death.

Chris Baty, founder and chief instigator of NaNoWriMo considers the dead line to be the writer's secret weapon. Douglas Adams  always enjoyed the sound of them whooshing along as they sped past.

Deadlines, not facing the hangman, or speeding by, but a limit. Self set, and policed, by the independent. There's the rub, self control makes them potentially flexible. Ideally they should give enough time for the job to be completed with a smidgeon of leeway, and not come up like you're running at a brick wall, even if it can move ahead of you.

The next deadline comes up tonight as Read an eBook week closes its doors and the discount code (RAE25)  at smashwords expires. The alternative codes remain valid,  on this blog and  at cheekyseagull.co.uk for the individual Grange Thrillers.
Which brings me to the plan, it's a bit formal calling it a plan at this stage, more a what am I going to do next arrangement.

Two projects,  both of them Grange Thrillers, Gone to Earth and  ClearWater, both unfinished and frankly, Gone to Earth needs a kick start, so, in need of a dead line, I've given myself a prompt. April, twenty five thousand words and hopefully a first draft put to rest by the end of the month. The protagonists are mustering for the final denouement and the scene will shortly be set, once Josie Burke has figured out the necessary deployment.

The plan is to unpublish Gone to Earth, to pull it offline until the work is finished. Once that's dealt with Clear Water takes the head and will be the focus.

When the time comes I'll keep you posted as to how things are progressing.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Read an eBook Week starts here....

Read an eBook Week kicks off for 2016, seven days of discounted and free ebooks at Smashwords. The Grange thrillers are involved, with a 25% discount code - especially for this week.

Check the links with the books at their Smashwords pages;
Iceline -free as usual.
Control Escape - enter RAE25 at the checkout
What You Ask For - enter RAE25
The Obedience of Fools - enter RAE25

Flag them for your e-readers, give your friends a nudge towards new writers and books at the summer promotions page.

Thursday 3 March 2016

World Book Day, here again!

Today's the day, World Book Day, check the website for the latest updates on the day's progress. and to throw in my sixpenn'orth discount codes are online for all The Grange thrillers at Smashwords
Iceline -free as usual.
Control Escape - enter TP79Y at the checkout
What You Ask For - enter NT97R
The Obedience of Fools - enter JD95K

Gone to Earth is still a work in progress and the unfinished text is available free at Smashwords.

Buy one for yourself, point someone in the right direction; head for The Grange.

Encourage reading, you know it does you good!

Grab a piece of the action; enjoy!

The Grange, Thrillers and Suspense, ebooks by Martyn Taylor
The codes expire on 31st March, 2016.

Monday 29 February 2016

Reading this month?

Read an Ebook month kicks off tonight, as the last stroke of the witching hour fades into the silent darkness, March comes in, Roaring like a lion, or a page turning maniac, devouring words voraciously.

In the spirit of the event, discount codes are available for all the priced titles on the Grange
Iceline -free as usual.
Control Escape - enter TP79Y at the checkout
What You Ask For - enter NT97R
The Obedience of Fools - enter JD95K

Gone to Earth is still a work in progress and the unfinished text is available free at Smashwords.

A shameless plug, driven by a good idea, encourage reading, you know it does you good!

Grab a piece of the action; enjoy!

The Grange, Thrillers and Suspense, ebooks by Martyn Taylor

Wednesday 24 February 2016

World Book Day

3 March, 2016, just over a week to go and the literary initiative takes on a global perspective with World  Book Day. Here in the UK vouchers to buy a book for £1 are distributed through the schools. With a selection of titles to reach most tastes in literature, listed among this years authors are David Baddiell, and Roald Dahl.

Check out the details at worldbookday. Over 14 million tokens with the aim to reach every child and young person under 18, encouraging the habit and love of reading. Who knows, maybe one day they may come to write a novel of their own?

Update, Thursday, 25th February: Discount codes for the Grange thrillers will be available from the 29th of February, 0600 GMT

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Look for me here...

Flanders and  Swann introduced me to the romantic melody with The Hippopotamus Song. Too young to grasp the nuances of romantic entanglements, I would sit mesmerised; listen to the airplay on the radio and repeat the chorus to an annoying degree. Five years old and all I could remember was the chorus. I probably drove my mother mad with it!

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me, follow / down to the hollow
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

The love song of the hippopotami and the wooing of his fair hippopota-maid, playing on her innocence and naivety to encourage her to spend languorous hours in the water,  His melodious tones rising from the river to her ears, and drawing her closer; follow me, follow...

Reminded me of the chirp of the little blue bird on the Internet; follow me, follow me back, and it's often about knowing where to look

To follow you have to find me and it helps if you know where to look!

You can find me  
twitter; @MartynSeagull,  
Blogger at Martyn's Blog - basically here!  
Smashwords at my profile page, About Martyn Taylor ,
NaNoWriMo at participants/Martyn 
and my own website at cheekyseagull.co.uk, (CSG) .net - uk - .me.uk also point towards (CSG) .co.uk.

Ask me a question, tell me something, or just drop a line via cheekyseagull contacts  or through the blog contact at the top of the page.
There, I hope that's useful!

Chill, follow me, I'll follow back...
the mud thing's not really necessary, 

Unless...no, better not go there!

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Spaghetti on the wall

"Throwing spaghetti at the wall," ark Coker made the comment in a conversation on Late Night Library, and as such a brilliant description it stayed with me, the red glutinous mass, straggling strands of pasta slowly pulling and sliding down the wallpaper before the whole lot comes off and hits the ground with a squidgy splat.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Looking ahead

January already kicked into touch, the march of crossed out days snaking across the calendar into February, Candlemas, Groundhog day gone already and the meteorological prognostications made for the next six weeks, and before we know it the march of time will have reached - March!
By virtue of an Order by the 41st Parliament of Canada, First Session, Motion M-293 was passed asking that the month of March be declared Read an E-BookMonth.
The Order reads:

Sunday 24 January 2016

The Bottom Line

An article on Philip Pullman in the Guardian over a letter penned in his capacity as President of the Society of Authors kicked off a cluster of blog posts. Warning of the likelihood that the professional author may become an endangered species; drawing attention to a recent survey indicating that the median income of a professional author in the United Kingdom is £11,000, with less than 12% of writers making a living solely from writing.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Starting at the end!

Not the end of the year post, but the start of the New Year, 365 days to build on whatever has been achieved so far and on day one of the first month a personal milestone. At 1800 GMT on the 1st of January Martyn's Blog hit 12,000 page views, five minutes later 12001 clocked up, and it wasn't me checking the post.

Not many compared to some of the hardened veterans of the Blogsphere, but a good number to play with.

A good start, the best we can hope for and I hope you are having a good one; the hangover not too severe and subsequent exposure to daylight not too much of a strain on the eyeballs or the head. Drink plenty, but reduce the alcohol content unless you really do need the pelt of the whole dog, not just the hair.

Friday 1 January 2016

Happy New Year

Wishing you all the best

May your storylines never tangle,
your plot holes be marvellously filled,
words pour effortlessly from your fingers and
time flow gently until your deadlines are met!

Happy New year to you all